Spring Fishing Fever Brewing On The South Platte

~ by Bob Volpe ~

Now that the annual Rainbow Trout spawn has entered its final throws, it’s time to get the season going full tilt.

Springtime is an especially good time to fish the South Platte. The fish are coming out of their winter doldrums and are beginning to feed heavily. Bugs are hatching with the warming water and the fish are moving into the riffles to take advantage of the spring hatches.This time of year one of the most anticipated hatches is the Blue Winged Olive (BWOs) hatch. Blue Winged Olives are a dainty mayfly that
has a short lifespan once they become airborne, but when the swarms of tiny bugs hit the air, trout feed on them heavily. It’s a great time to throw dry fly BWO imitations. The best conditions to find a strong BWO hatch is on cloudy, overcast days.

Aside from the BWO hatch, this time of year also finds Stone Flies beginning to leave their larval state and take to the shore and rocks to shed their outer husks and begin their search for mates. Unlike Mayflies, Stone Flies don’t mate in the air, they prefer to find love on land. That doesn’t mean you won’t find them drifting on the water’s surface.

This dressing of the Stone Fly that Richard Bowlker describes in The Art of Angling (1757) departs from the general rule of the blog and uses a size 10 hook …

The Stone Fly is one of the larger insects trout will take on the South Platte. This is a welcome change from the normal small size flies anglers must rely on the rest of the year. South Platte Stone Fly imitations can be as large as size 8.

The most common Stone Flies on the South Platte are Skwala’s, Golden Stones and Yellow Sallies. Skwala’s are the first of the Stones you’ll find and from late March to the end of April is the best time to fish these imitations. Good Skwala nymph patterns are Pat’s Rubberlegs or a 20 incher. The best dry fly Skwala imitations are a size 8-10 Chubby Chernobyl, Stimulator, or Amy’s Ant. Trout will often lurk near the banks to wait for an errant Stone to slip into the drift.

When a trout takes a dry Stone Fly pattern it can be the most exciting thing an angler will ever see. They hammer those things hard. As April slips into May and the river bank willows begin to leaf out, the avid angler’s love turns to the Caddis hatch. While some fishermen covet the famous Mother’s Day hatch on the Arkansas River, the South Platte is no slouch when the Caddis come out to play. Some of the best dry fly fishing takes place when the Caddis hatch gets going. From Strontia reservoir to the headwater of the Platte on Hosier Pass, fish love to take a Caddis imitation when the opportunity strikes.

The Caddis life cycle is a three-stage process; larvae, pupa, and adult. The adult stage is when the bugs take to the sky to mate and the females then dip in and out of the river surface as they deposit

Caddis. fly developed as an egg-laying skater.

their eggs. This is when you’ll find hungry trout high in the water column looking for an easy meal.


The best dry fly Caddis imitation is one that has been around for generations. The Elk Hair Caddis is a must have fly for any angler’s fly box and is still as effective as when it was first introduced.


This year the flows on the South Platte from above Spinney Reservoir on down to Strontia will not like see an average runoff. Right now the snowpack on the South Platte drainage is at just above 60 percent of normal. While Spinney Reservoir and Elevenmile Reservoir are at near capacity, Cheesman Reservoir is pretty low. Therefore, the water boards responsible for releasing water through the dams is likely
going to be minimal until Cheesman is filled.

The slow/low runoff can make for good Spring fishing conditions as long as it doesn’t get crazy low. On the plus side, wading will be easier, the river will be clearer, and the fish will be as hungry as

So, if you’ve been cooped up all winter and waiting for Spring, now is
the time to break out the waders and hit the river.

Tight lines.