Saturday, March 30, 2013

Waterton Canyon

I haven't fished Waterton Canyon once last year after it reopened, so I thought I would check it out today and see if all the bad news of no fish, bad conditions etc. is true. Waterton Canyon is a part of the South Platte system, arguably the last stretch of this river that can sustain a year-round trout fishery (yes, there are trout caught occasionally below Chatfield Reservoir but I doubt the flow of 0cfs during summer is helping the few trout that escape Chatfield much).

Waterton Canyon is part of the Colorado Trail (end or beginning depending on your view) and access to it is either by foot or by bike. No motorized vehicles are allowed. It is apx. 6 miles from the parking lot in Kassler to the dam of Strontia Springs Reservoir (the 6th reservois of 7 before the river hits Denver). I am not much of a walker, especially if I want to start fishing below the dam and 6 miles would take me a while in my waders. With my "tenkara bike", this is much more manageable. And I get a good cardiac workout, too.

The Tenkara Mobile and Tenkara Bike
tube attached to frame to transport collapsed rod (MUCH easier than with a fly rod!)
The reason why I drive all 6 miles up to just below the dam is that the fishing - and fish stock - is significantly better. The flow is typically higher out of Strontia Springs than below the Marston Diversion Dam which is about halfway up. Regulations for the upper stretch are artificial and flies with a 2 bag limit of 16"+. Below the Marston Diversion, regular Colorado regulations and bag limit apply.

Strontia Springs Dam

The weather was nice, lower 60ies as a high, a bit chillier in the morning and the shade of course. At times a bit windy but nothing that would spoil your casting for long. Flow was 32cfs below Strontia Springs and 15cfs below Marston.

I thought this would be more of a scouting trip, not having heard really good news about the fishing last year. Luckily, I am happy to report that at least in the upper section trout are still around, spooky, yes, and typical South Platte residents - focused on the small stuff. I still managed to to land 5 nice browns, the biggest around 13" or so (longer than the handle of the Iwana 12' I was fishing with yet. A few more got away, as always.

looks almost like parr marks of a juvenile rainbow... never saw those on a brown before

BWO's were coming off and fish were feeding on the emergers. All fish were caught on a gray RS2, fished as a trailer behind a beadhead little black stone fly sakasa kebari and a generic green sakasa kebari. Go figure.


  1. Nicely done. It's only a matter of weeks and I'll be back in Tenkara mode.

  2. Very good fishing and pictures .... congratulations ...

  3. Very nice report! Beautiful brownies in a great lanscape, what can one need more?