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About the North Fork of the South Platte River

The North Fork of the South Platte River offers yet another opportunity to sample the South Platte River system. The vast majority of this swift, fast flowing stem of the South Platte River is within an hour’s reach of metropolitan Denver, nevertheless, this branch gets over-shadowed by the renowned South Fork. The headwaters of the North Fork, as it is referred to, commence on the eastern side of legendary Kenosha Pass. The North Fork is extremely small and expeditious for the first several miles until it joins forces with diverted water from the bottom of Dillon Reservoir via the Roberts Tunnel. Another tributary—Geneva Creek—further adds a substantial quantity of water to the North Fork near the small town of Grant. This creek is especially influential during run-off as the North Fork swells and becomes high and roily. Several other smaller side-streams also enter the river but are not the magnitude of the two previously mentioned sources of water.

The North Fork is comprised of shallow riffles, runs, and an abundance of pocket water. Deep holes are uncommon throughout this section of river. The water is gin clear, and standard sight nymphing tactics work best on a day-to-day basis. Short-line nymphing is the most effective technique with the heavy brush, small pockets, and quick seams—all of which are key holding areas for the trout. Typically if it looks “fishy”, it generally is, and of course it’s always lucrative to find fish positioned where you think they should be.

Public access is limited, but trophy trout await you on many of our private leases on the North Fork of the South Platte. To book a day at Shawnee Meadows, or Rawhide  Fly Fisher's call the Blue Quill Angler (303-674-4700, Option2) and we'll gladly assist you.


Suggested Flies
Tungsten Slush Egg - Barbless
Tungsten Slush Egg - Barbless
Tungsten Slush Egg - Barbless
Tungsten Slush Egg - Barbless

Tungsten Slush Egg - Barbless

$2.95
Flossy Worm
Flossy Worm
Flossy Worm
Flossy Worm
Flossy Worm
Flossy Worm

Flossy Worm

$2.00
Mop Fly # 14
Mop Fly # 14
Mop Fly # 14
Mop Fly # 14
Mop Fly # 14
Mop Fly # 14

Mop Fly # 14

$2.95
Mayer's Mini Leech Jig - Radiant
Mayer's Mini Leech Jig - Radiant
Mayer's Mini Leech Jig - Radiant
Mayer's Mini Leech Jig - Radiant

Mayer's Mini Leech Jig - Radiant

$2.95
Mayer's Mini Leech Jig - Tungsten
Mayer's Mini Leech Jig - Tungsten
Mayer's Mini Leech Jig - Tungsten
Mayer's Mini Leech Jig - Tungsten
Mayer's Mini Leech Jig - Tungsten
Mayer's Mini Leech Jig - Tungsten

Mayer's Mini Leech Jig - Tungsten

$3.75
Jiggy Pat's Rubber Legs
Jiggy Pat's Rubber Legs
Jiggy Pat's Rubber Legs
Jiggy Pat's Rubber Legs
Jiggy Pat's Rubber Legs
Jiggy Pat's Rubber Legs

Jiggy Pat's Rubber Legs

$3.25
Latest Report

Updated 6/6/24

Flows are around 350 cfs, which is right around the North Fork's historical average. The water is off-color, so throw flashy fare like Slush Eggs, Flossy Worms, Mops, and jigged Mini Leeches. Size up to 3x tippet, especially as flows continue their upward climb. It would be worth throwing streamers as well!

Updated 4/2/24

The North Fork of the South Platte River is ice free for the most part. All of our private leases are currently closed due to very low river flows due to the Roberts Tunnel being shut off.  Denver Water will hopefully resume releasing water through Roberts Tunnel soon!

Seasonal Hatches and Tips

Fishing the North Fork of the South Platte River near Bailey, Colorado, in spring can be excellent, but it's important to consider the impact of Denver Water's control over Roberts Tunnel on river flows.

 During spring, flows can vary due to snowmelt and water releases, so it's essential to check current conditions before heading out.

Here are some effective fly patterns to consider for spring fishing on this section of the river:

Blue-Winged Olives (BWOs): These may hatch sporadically in spring. Carry patterns like Parachute Adams, Sparkle Duns, or Pheasant Tails in sizes #18 to #22 to imitate BWOs.

Midges: Midges are prevalent year-round but may become more active in spring. Use patterns like Zebra Midges, RS2s (Rim's Semblance 2), Mercury Midges, or Disco Midges in sizes ranging from #18 to #24.

Stoneflies: Stonefly nymphs become more active as the weather warms up. Carry patterns like Pat's Rubber Legs, Hare's Ear Nymphs, or Prince Nymphs in sizes #10 to #14.

Caddisflies: Caddis activity increases as temperatures rise. Patterns like Elk Hair Caddis, X-Caddis, or Stimulators in sizes #14 to #18 can be effective imitations.

Attractor Patterns: Bright and flashy attractor patterns like San Juan Worms, Egg Patterns, or Rainbow Warriors can be effective in catching the attention of fish, especially during runoff periods.

Streamers: Larger fish might respond to streamers, particularly if the water is high and off-color due to runoff. Woolly Buggers, Sculpin patterns, and other streamers in various sizes and colors can attract larger fish.

As flows on this section of the South Platte River can be controlled by Denver Water's management of Roberts Tunnel, it's crucial to check current flow rates and adjust your fishing strategies accordingly.

The Blue Quill Angler's shop staff and  guides are very familiar with this section of the river can provide specific insights into recent hatches, successful patterns, and techniques tailored for spring fishing in the area, taking into account current flow conditions. They often have firsthand knowledge that can greatly enhance your fishing experience.

Weather
River Report Pics (3).png__PID:f85868fc-2ac0-45bf-a3b9-9a624c58c4ff
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River Report Pics (1).png__PID:2ac0c5bf-a3b9-4a62-8c58-c4ff5e4a59c8

Pictures by @austindanielsflyfishing


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