Discover the latest fishing conditions and catch trends on the South Platte River in Waterton Canyon with our comprehensive fishing report for July 9th 2024

Current River Conditions

The water flow on the South Platte River in Waterton Canyon has calmed down a bit since our last update. Denver Water is keeping flows between 600 - 700 CFS, although occasional spikes up to 900 CFS may occur due to heavy rainfall in the mountains above Denver and in the Foothills. Anglers should stay tuned to the weather forecast and hit the stream before any impending rain. If you happen to miss the window, it's best to focus on using Juan Worms, Stoneflies, and other larger bugs for better presentation in the murkier water.

Despite the roaring dam, downstream from the top offers slower water, with pools, grass beds, and structure providing perfect fishing spots during high runoff. Fish are likely to stick near the bottom and avoid the strong currents, so focusing on nymphing is a good idea unless there's a significant hatch and the stream level is lower. Stay sharp, exercise caution while navigating the swift currents, and keep an eye on your surroundings for a safe and enjoyable fishing experience.

You will have company on this section. When fishing alongside fellow anglers, it's crucial to uphold courtesy and respect. Remember, communication is key as we all strive to appreciate the beauty of the stream and make the most of our fishing adventures. Take a moment to connect with your fellow anglers, ensuring everyone is on the same page. Before exploring a new section, scout the area to secure enough space for casting and avoid encroaching on someone else's fishing spot. By creating a welcoming and considerate fishing environment, we can all elevate our experience and reel in more unforgettable catches together.

Exercise extreme caution! With the swift currents and hazardous footing, our team has witnessed members unexpectedly drifting down the river twice this season. The runoff conditions in Colorado are no laughing matter, as they have tragically claimed lives or caused serious harm to numerous river visitors over the years. Stay vigilant, watch your step while wading, and always inform someone of your whereabouts if you plan on fishing alone.

waterton canyon Stronia Springs Reservoir


Source: Colorado Division of Water and Natural Resources Stream Flow Station Report



Notable Hatches & Fly Patterns for Mid-Summer

In the midst of summer on the South Platte River in Wateron Canyon, anglers should look for several exciting hatches and fly patterns. These include a variety of insect species, such as mayflies, caddisflies, and stoneflies.


Mayflies are abundant during this season and can be mimicked with patterns such as the Blue Wing Olive or Pale Morning Dun. Anglers have successfully used these patterns in both nymph and dry fly variations.

Available from us Here

Parachute Adams


Caddisflies are also on the scene, and patterns like the Elk Hair Caddis or the X-Caddis do a fantastic job of imitating them. These patterns can be fished on the surface or subsurface depending on how the fish feed.

Available from us Here

Parachute Caddis Detail


Stoneflies are another key player in mid-summer. Patterns like Pat's Rubber Legs or the Kaufmann Stone are popular for imitating stoneflies. These patterns are best fished near the riverbed, where stonefly nymphs are commonly found.

Available from us Here

Pat Rubber Legs


Current Fly Fishing Tactics

Nymphing is a popular tactic involving fishing with subsurface flies that mimic aquatic insects in their nymph stage. Anglers have shared their success stories using various nymph patterns, including timeless classics like the Pheasant Tail, Hare's Ear, and Prince Nymph. These patterns can be fished with or without an indicator depending on factors like water depth and current speed.

Dry fly fishing is another effective tactic, especially during hatches. Anglers can present dry flies that imitate the emerging insects on the water's surface, leading to exhilarating visual encounters as fish rise to take the fly. This method can be thrilling and rewarding for anglers seeking a more interactive fishing experience.

Streamer fishing is a popular choice on the South Platte River for those aiming to target larger fish or cover more water. Streamers, being larger and more imitative flies, can be retrieved in various ways to mimic baitfish or other prey items. Patterns like the Woolly Bugger or the Sculpzilla have proven successful for anglers targeting predatory fish in the river.

Snow Pack Update: Colorado 2024 Front Range UPDATED 6.24.24

Cheesman Reservoir is overflowing at full capacity, with run-off at higher elevations just beginning. In Western Colorado, lower-elevation snowpack has been plentiful, resulting in significant early-season runoff in various basins. This has led to observed flooding in the Yampa and Dolores basins, with further snowmelt anticipated. While Western Colorado has experienced above-normal April streamflow volumes, different outcomes have been seen in other parts of the state. NRCS Hydrologist Karl Wetlaufer has highlighted the diverse snowpack and streamflow forecasts for this year's April-July runoff period, with certain basins expecting below-normal seasonal runoff volumes.

Reservoir storage is improving in areas with deficits, such as the Gunnison and the San Miguel-Dolores-Animas-San Juan River basins. It is essential to closely monitor forecasts and changing conditions in your local area throughout the spring and summer due to the variability in streamflow forecasts across the state. Statewide snowpack peaked on April 8th at SNOTEL sites, signaling the onset of the primary snowmelt runoff season. Wetlaufer has stressed the significance of closely monitoring water resources during this period, as conditions can shift rapidly. While abundant streamflow is beneficial for water supply in the Colorado River Basin, all residents in Colorado must be mindful of flood potential and associated risks.

Other References & Links

Denver Water - Waterton Canyon Fishing Regulations


Source: USDA Natural Resources Conversation Service

Tymothe Meskel
Post by Tymothe Meskel
July 9, 2024
Tymothe Meskel is an avid fly fisherman who spends every week out on the water, rain, shine, or snow. He is an outdoor enthusiast who shares their experiences, tips, and insights on this fly fishing blog. With a wealth of knowledge about various techniques, equipment, and fly patterns, he helps anglers of all skill levels improve their fishing game. Join Tymothe on this journey as he uncover the joys of fly fishing and inspire others to appreciate the wilderness and preserve our natural resources.