Outdoor Articles

Crash The Hatch!

by Pursue The Outdoors on November 30th, 1999 in Trout Fishing

The  “Dream Stream”  section of the South Platte River is a beautiful winding stream that’s filled with trophy trout.  Deep bends filled with large boulders and logs are typical fishing holes in this section of the South Platte.  The nickname “Dream Stream” is a perfect description of this tailwater fishery.

Like most famous tailwater fishing rivers, the Dream Stream gets a lot of pressure from fly fisherman.  It’s not uncommon on weekends for parking lots to be filled, and every bend of the first two miles of the river having a fly fisherman in it…all in search of those trophy fish for which this section of water is reknowned.

As a spin fisherman, its intimidating to read the reports on the Dream Stream.  All they usually talk about are these tiny little flies that the super educated trout “microscope over” before biting.  While spin fishing its impossible to delicately present a tiny fly with a drag free drift using a clear bubble.  Your standard trout spinners and spoons will produce results from time to time,  but for the most part these big P.H.D. carrying trout will pass them up.  So do you need to pick up a fly rod and learn how to use it in order to catch fish out of the Dream Stream?  Of course not!  With the method I’m about to tell you about, there will be many times you will be catching fish and leaving the fly fisherman next to you astonished and bewildered.

Most of us have heard the phrase “match the hatch” while either learning how to fly fish or just reading through fishing magazines.  It’s simply matching your fly pattern to the insects the fish are currently feeding on.  It’s a time proven fishing method that can really put you onto countless fish in a single outing.  However, sometimes hatches are so prolific that artificial flies get lost in swarms of emerging insects and getting bites can be very difficult at best.

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Sometimes during these hatches, trout feed exclusively on that particular insect, ignoring all other aquatic life forms and any terrestrials that might fall into the water.  Situations like these are what fly fisherman dream of, and why so many of us have picked up the sport.  Having your fly rod and a fly pattern that matches the emerging insect can’t be beat at times like these.

Do trout feed in between hatches?  The answer is yes,  and heavily.  A common misconception is that trout feed exclusively on small flying insects.  A big portion of a trout’s diet is indeed on small insects that are in different stages of their life cycle,  but trout are also opportunistic feeders with hearty appetites that make crayfish,  smaller trout,  grasshoppers,  and even field mice the meal of choice.  Another myth among anglers is that trout are finicky eaters that only eat certain flying insects.  Trout, like most game fish are opportunistic feeders that find it hard to pass up an easy meal,  or for that matter a big meal that’s rich in protein.
  
So how do spin fisherman take advantage of all the information stated above?  We “Crash The Hatch” instead of relying on weather conditions for certain hatches to take place and trigger a feeding frenzy.  We are going to use the aggressive and territorial nature of big tailwater trout to our advantage.  Not only relying on hunger for strikes but also anger and territorial responses that will put fish on the end of your line.
  
While Crashing the Hatch, two different types of fishing lures are vital to success.  The first is minnow imitation jerk baits such as  floating Rapalas or  Smithwick Rattlin Rouge Shallow Diver.  A few other fishing lures to consider are the Storm Thunder Stick,  Bomber Long A,  Rebel Minnow,  and Yo-zuri Crystal Minnow.  I generally look for fishing lures with a tight wobble that run at a depth between 1 and 3 feet of water.  Most of the lure companies have the running depth printed on the box, but if not, you can always tell by the size of the plastic lip on the front of the lure.  The bigger the lip the deeper the fishing lure will dive.  Between the different companies, there are hundreds of different finishes, and all have certain situations in which they will shine.  For the Dream Stream stick with natural colors like a rainbow trout finish or a silver minnow finish.
 
The next type of  fishing lure we are going to discuss has been highly under utilized by trout fisherman for years.  The tube jig!!!  Bass anglers have been successfully using tube jigs in clear water for years.  Tube jigs are extremely versatile fishing lures that produce when nothing else will.  Some of the most productive tubes include Berkley Power Tube,  Chompers Ultra Tube,  Strike King Bleeding Bait Tube,  Yum Wounded Mega Tube,  and Zoom’s Big Tube, to name a few.  Color schemes are endless, but the colors that produce the best results are white with black flakes,  black,  and pumpkinseed.  Some people prefer to Texas rig their tubes with an offset hook,  but for fishing the Dream Stream the hooks made specifically for using tube jigs are much more practical.  With the weight hidden inside the tube and the eyelet of the hook barely showing it makes for a more natural presentation.

Before we get down to the nitty gritty of fishing the Dream Stream, lets cover an invaluable tool for stream fishermen.  Polarized glasses are a must  for river fishermen in Colorado.  They not only protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays, but will help you see fish that otherwise would go unnoticed.  Although they can be pricey, a good pair of polarized lenses will, without a doubt, will help you catch more fish.  I never fish a river or stream without my polarized glasses and after using them for the first time, I strongly doubt you will either.
  
When using spinning gear on the Dream Stream, there are a few different types of structure that will produce the best results.  The Dream Stream, from the dam below Spinney Mountain Reservoir to the bridge close to Eleven Mile Reservoir has a great number of deep pools usually located on one of the many river bends.  The bottom of these deep holes often has big boulders which are perfect ambush points for the resident population of big rainbow trout,  cuttbows,  and brown trout.  Targeting these boulders, cast your tube jig a few feet past them and start with a slow retrieve with pauses just before and after rocks.  Many of your strikes are going to be on the initial drop of your jig, so be ready!
 
Another great location for spin fishing on the Dream Stream is right below the makeshift dams made out of boulders located all up and down the dream stream.  Casting a minnow type jerkbait across these area’s with a jerk, jerk,  pause retrieve will without a doubt stir up some reaction strikes.

With your polarized glasses, sight fishing on the Dream Stream can be unreal at times.  Look for fish sitting in shallow rocky bottomed water gorging themselves on bugs being washed down by the current.  The strategy here is not to provoke a strike out of hunger, but from anger.  These fish are very territorial when it comes to feeding lanes, and bigger fish defend their feeding lanes violently.  Cast your jerk bait just past the feeding fish, bringing the lure past him with a steady retrieve.  Now stop your lure six inches to a foot in front of the feeding fish, letting the resistance of the current give your lure its swimming action.  If you don’t receive a strike right away, stay persistent.  After a few casts, the fish’s territorial instincts will kick in and it will strike to protect its feeding lane.  

A couple things to consider while fishing the Dream Stream.  Fish here can run anywhere from 10 inches to well over 10 pounds!!!  Make sure you have a smooth drag thats set properly before taking even one cast.  Every cast is a possible trophy when fishing this section of water.  Watching a 10 pound plus rainbow trout snap your line due to an improperly set drag will surely turn your Dream Stream experience into a nightmare.
 
The water running through the Dream Steam is extremely clear.  Smaller diameter fishing lines are a must if monofilament is your preference.  If you like using super fishing lines such as Spectra Power Pro or Stren Super Braid, make sure you attach an invisible fluorocarbon leader.  I personally use  P-line’s Fluoroclear  in 8 pound test.  It’s a fluorocarbon coated copolymer which has great strength and is virtually invisible underwater.

This section of the South Platte River that runs between Spinney Mountain Reservoir and Elevenmile Reservoir is filled with trophy trout and serious fishermen.  It fishes well year round and is considered by many to be the best trophy trout destination in the state.  With the “flies and lures only” restriction and being a “catch and release” water it’s perfectly managed to insure trophy trout opportunities for generations to come.  A beautiful winding river filled with monster trout and a gorgeous mountain back drop, this section of the South Platte River has certainly earned its nickname the “Dream Stream.”

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