In 1981 the City of Aurora finished the damming of the South Platte River to create the Spinney Mountain Reservoir and the Spinney Mountain State Wildlife Area to access the five miles of meandering tailwater prior to its flowing into Eleven Mile Canyon Reservoir. These three linear miles are, as of 2010, now known as the Charlie Meyers State Wildlife Area, in memory of the great Denver Post outdoor writer Charlie Meyers. It has been my pleasure to have guided, read and enjoyed the company of, one of the great ambassadors of fishing and hunting in the State of Colorado.
Charlie Meyers and the Dream Stream
It was some time after I had arrived in the fine state of Colorado, coincidently in February 1981 that I unsuspectingly read a weekly column in the Denver Post, written by Charlie Meyers, about the then not so famous “Dream Stream”. Charlie, skillfully described how fly anglers were pulling out lots of large fish, on carpet flies, eggs, scuds and midges. He said, the area was recently opened and that a 1,370 acre public tract was put into place to enhance the fishery with consistent flows and water temperatures. Meyers told of the special catch and release regulations enacted, in part to maintain the quality of the fishery by schooling fly fisherman who would potentially visit the “Dream Stream” on the regulations and river etiquette.
It was one of the many articles penned by Charlie Myers that sent me forth one cold snowy November day in October 1997. Yes, I did manage to land several Brown trout, Rainbow trout and Kokanee Salmon all over twenty inches, a normal day for the Dream Stream in November, I thought.
Remember the Dream Stream got the name for a reason and the Kokanee ended up being over 25 inches long and five and a half pounds. Trying make things difficult, I was using 6X tippet with my size 22 home spun chartreuse egg and landed a IGFA World Record, Kokanee Salmon, that day. What is even more nuts, is that one of my fishing buddies that particular day was current Denver Post Outdoor Columnist Scott Willoughby, neither of us new Charlie at the time.
In Landon Mayer’s new book, Colorado Best Fly Fishing, the Colorado Springs guide and author states, that “you will have a better shot at a wild trophy Brown Trout on this section of the South Platte than anywhere in Colorado. Rainbows, Cutthroats and Browns… 17 pounds is the largest I’ve seen”.
Before you get too excited know this; the trophy fish here are seasonal, 12 to 18 inch browns cuts and bows make up the majority of resident fish in the river unless some type of spawning activity is present in October and November and again in February, March and April. The water is most always clear and the primary reason for all the super large fish is the sanctuary they find downstream in Eleven Mile Canyon Reservoir. When they run up river they get spooky and challenging to approach; stay low, walk with stealth and do not cast your fly line over the fish.
Do not be afraid to move to find fish. Look between some of the large pools as fish tend to spawn near tail outs. Below these spawners, other large trout will be feeding on eggs and insects dislodged by red construction. The fish will also feed and hide in the riffles or under one of the many cutbanks common on this stretch of the South Platte. Here they have some overhead cover. Since this is a small stream where sight fishing is a common tactic, please avoid fishing for trout that actively spawning on redds. It might be tempting but it is not sporting. Despite their visibility, these trout are not a challenge and the wild fishery depends on their success.
The Dream Streams trout are very challenging, it will take your best presentation to take these fish and seeing them before you cast can be half the battle. Some of my favorite flies for this stretch are Larva Lace San Juan’s, Midges, Orange Scuds, Eggs and Streamers. As a guide in the Colorado River Basin it is impossible for me to enjoy the fine summer fishing the Charlie Meyers SWA of the South Platte River offers, this is why my fly selection is limited to spring and fall selections.
Should you decide to venture into South Park, near HartseI, Colorado and fish this classic tailwater, bring more clothes than you think you might require. In just a couple of weeks, big rainbows and cutthroats will begin pushing out of the reservoir and the fishing will really pick up.There are no trees along the banks of the Dream Stream, because the wind absolutely howls in this high desert plateau of 8,700 feet above sea level. Head to this fine public water jewel and catch a trout in remembrance of the great Denver Post outdoors writer, Charlie Meyers.
Bill Perry, Guide and Content Writer