Thursday, May 8, 2014

Big water, high water and low water.

This past weekend I was able to get back on the South Platte River.  After spending the last 6 weeks on the Arkansas River, it was quite the difference.  On the Ark, the water has been higher, colder and stronger.  It beats you down, wears you out and makes you seriously consider not getting in the water at all.  The rocks are round and hard to grip and when using studs and there are times when it hurts more than it helps.  There aren’t many places to cross the river safely and when you do, after fishing and getting beat down, you have to cross back again under tired legs.  This is possibly after the river has risen with a little snowmelt so an additional 150 CFS is added to that water volume on your way back.
The South Platte is controlled by man.  It’s not nearly as wide and as strong as the Ark.  It’s been tamed and it’s been controlled.  The granite rocks here are a dream for studded boots.  The studs grip the rocks like a cat’s claws into a leather sofa.  The water can be strong, but normally, it’s not.  There are a ton of places to cross the river, even in higher water.    There are always people fishing on that water and if you happen to fall in and go for a swim downstream, you are likely to piss off a few people.  On the Ark, you will die. 
Ark in mid April
After visiting the Ark and the Deckers section of the South Platte, I visited 11-Mile Canyon.  At 77 CFS, it was as if I was fishing a small creek.  The water was crystal clear and flowed gently over the rocks.  If wading the Deckers stretch was fairly easy compared to the Ark, this was like walking through the wet grass.  Most of the water I walked in was less than knee deep and any other water deeper, you were fishing it.  It’s easy to get lazy when wading these lower flows.  Things will change here in the future so enjoy the lower flows while you can.  Oh, and the fishing was pretty good too!

77 CFS

Late March flows

11-Mile Canyon

Clear, low flows before run-off.  


  1. Juan.

    Very nice piece, the water looks wonderful.

  2. Hey Juan, I was there this past weekend myself. The fishing was great. We just need some strong flows to get all the moss of and make some of those riffles a little more productive to fish.