Don’t Hate the River

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Plenty of Room for Everybody Photo by Louis Cahill

I was talking with a friend the other day about doing some fishing in Colorado, his home state.

This is a good topic to bring up if you are trying to lure me into an extended conversation. Colorado is near to my heart. He was throwing out places we might fish and said “I know you love the Dream Stream, but I hate that place”. This really took me off guard. How could anyone hate that place? If you’ve never fished it, trust me, the name says it all. A gorgeous high elevation tailwater, this section of the South Platte snakes thru a quant little valley between two reservoirs, bending back on itself time and time again, each glass clear bend stacked with big, beautiful, educated trout. What’s so terrible about that?

I do love that place and I’ve had some great days there the best being the first. Kent and I showed up with one of the S. Platte’s famous trico hatches in full swing. Glass calm runs turning into boiling caldrons of rising fish. Kent’s triple trico was born that day. The hatch was epic but we caught great fish all day using everything from dries to streamers. How can you hate a place like that? The answer is pretty simple, pressure.

You can’t put a stream like that a couple of hours drive from a major metropolitan area and not expect the word to get out. It’s true that the Dream Stream sees a ton of traffic but I’ve always had good experiences there and on a lot of other highly pressured rivers and I think it’s more than luck. Some of it is strategy and some of it is outlook.

I have structured my life so that I can be on the water while everyone else is at work or with family or just has better sense than to be out. Give me a bitter cold Wednesday on the river anytime. Valentine’s day, Easter Sunday, New Years Day, all good fishing days. Kent and I actually watch the weather looking for the worst possible weather days to hit popular streams. We’ve had to adjust our tactics to catch fish and it’s often tough on the picture taking but it works for us. Some days you just get lucky. Like that first day on the Dream Stream. It was a beautiful day and it should have been packed. Come to think of it, it was! So why didn’t I hate it? Partly because the fishing was so good and partly because I didn’t expect anything different. Sure there were a lot of guys fishing, but no one was rude. I understand that’s not been everyone’s experience but it’s always been mine. In fact I was fishing the Platte one day and set my camera down to take a leak and forgot about it. I went back three hours later and it was sitting there on the bank where I left it. These Colorado anglers can’t be all bad!

I find that I get along pretty well with most guys I catch holding a fly rod. Kent and I met while I was poaching his favorite honey hole and we are the best of friends. One of my favorite things about fly fishing is that it is not competitive. If we enjoy each other’s company and each other’s success we all have a better time on the water. So here are my humble suggestions for having a good day on busy water.

•Try to fish when there is less pressure. It’s better for you, the river and the fish.

•Be courteous, be friendly. Give other anglers some space. Share the water and don’t pound it into submission.

•If there isn’t enough water for everyone, invite someone to fish with you. Take turns on a run. I’ve met some great folks this way and we all caught fish.

•If someone is inconsiderate, try being friendly. Often they are just ignorant of the anglers’ ettiquette. If they really are jerks, move on. They will find someone to have an argument with, without ruining your day.

•When space is limited, find a tough fish and work him until you get him. I’ve seen Kent do this for hours and when you finally catch that fish, it becomes a fond memory.

•Most importantly, respect the river. Don’t beat down the banks, leave trash or wade through spawning habitat. Practice your best catch and release practices. These fish take a beating and we all want them to stay beautiful and healthy. Volunteer for stream restoration or clean up days. Popular rivers become popular for a reason, because they are special places and it’s up to all of us who use them to help keep them special. Don’t hate the river, what it needs is all of your love.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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8 thoughts on “Don’t Hate the River

  1. I’m headed to Colorado with work in a week, and booked my flight a day ahead to get some fishing in. I’m hoping to find some lake run rainbows on the S. Platte, but was a little hesitant hit up this crowded stream. Thanks for reinforcing my decision to go. Hopefully Monday April 9th will be a great day on the dream stream.

    • I don’t think you’ll be sorry. I’ve never had a bad day there, even when the fishing was not at it’s best. Have a great trip and put some photos on our Facebook page when you get back!

  2. Windswept, treeless open valley. The river looks like an irrigation ditch. Usually very crowded by people who are dead-set on catching a trophy. Sometimes ugly confrontations break out amidst these conditions, much like the Bighorn. No thanks, not my idea of a dream stream. Give me a mountain meadow and 10-inch cutts to “dream” about. But hey, different strokes, y’know? Fewer people in my “dreams”. That’s why I’m happy people golf.

  3. Great comments on the What To Dos……keeping it so the next person can enjoy it. I enjoy reading articles like this.

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