One of my favorite Denver fly fishing destinations is the South Platte River, right at Harstel where Highways 9 and 24 intersect. Just a short drive from Denver and Colorado Springs, Hartsel offers over 25 miles of public access for fly fishing in an area designated as Gold Medal Trout Stream water. The area is surrounded by peaceful meadows with Pikes Peak Ranges providing a breathtaking backdrop. I have done a few trips to this area with very knowledgeable guides from Minturn Anglers. They know all the tricks and tips for fly fishing these waters.
The South Platte runs right through Hartsel and three state reservoirs, Spinney Mountain, Eleven Mile and Anterio, are only a ten minute drive away from the town. This geographic center of the state offers the most famous fly fishing water in Colorado, with abundant trophy size brown trout, native cutthroats, brook trout and rainbow trout just waiting for your next cast. The Spinney Mountain reservoir also offers northern pike, while the famous Kokanee salmon is a catch at the Eleven Mile reservoir. Year round hatches mean that the avid angler can fish these waters in any season.
The Middle and the South Forks of the South Platte merge near Hartsel. The South Fork is fed by a number of thermal seeps as well as a large thermal spring near the village, making it both a tailwater and a spring creek. Fly fishing the area means that I have a great choice about the kind of water to fish. When the spirit moves me, I choose to work the large meandering meadow streams with their deep corner pools and undercut banks. Other times I choose waters with a more mountain stream character a bit farther upstream. Here I expect a more cobbled and freestone bottom and a steeper gradient as I move upstream.
Many anglers refer to this area of the South Platte near Hartsel between the Spinney Mountain and the Eleven Mile Reservoir as the Dream Stream, and once you try it you will know why! You are in God`s Country and will appreciate every second of your time there.