Are we seeing the rebound of the South Platte River below Cheesman Reservoir? Some guides think so.

For those of you who need some backgrounding, this section of the South Platte is one of the most famous trout fisheries in the West. About an hour from Denver, it’s a tailwater, and a virtual small bug factory (bring RS2s). But the poor river has been much maligned recently … due to the inevitable pounding it takes from anglers/proximity to a major metro area … the effects of whirling disease … and of course, the 2002 Hayman Fire that burned nearly 150,000 acres; the runoff from the burn later choked the river with muck.

But here’s what’s happening now (yesterday): Guide Jeremy Hyatt from The Hatch Flyshop says the fishing is going ballistic, especially at Deckers. Why? Bugs. Mass clouds of caddis that start about 9 a.m. and roll consistently until sundown. Standard tan elk hairs in various sizes. Then around noon, the PMDs start hatching. The hatch lasts about two hours.

Relatively high flows (the river just dropped to 456 cfs from 600 cfs) is keeping the fish tight to the banks (and flushing some of the mutants out of the Wigwam Club). Cast tight to the bank with dries. Do it right, Hyatt says, and it is literally an every-other cast type of deal.

So is the South Platte Back? It always amazes to see how well Mother Nature can rebound … and the South Platte is tougher and more beautiful than most, despite taking its share of punches. Let’s hope this is a sign of good things to come, rather than a brief reprise of what was. KD