FLOW: 20 cfs
ROD: Redington Pursuit 8’6” 5wt
In 2013 torrential rains created a massive flood that swept down the St. Vrain causing massive amounts of damage to the water way and the surrounding communities. Most locals go elsewhere to fly fish nowadays saying that the St. Vrain hasn’t recovered and isn’t fishing well yet. Even the guides at the local fly shop in Longmont said it probably wouldn’t be worth my time, but I figured I’d give it a shot since I’m new in town.
The water level was pretty low up and down the creek, as most of the snow that feeds the creek throughout the year has long since melted. However, there was still some flow and a few nice pools that were holding decent fish. The trick was finding a deep enough pool. When I first started fishing I worked upstream for about 20 yards without catching a thing.
Finally, I found a good spot right below a waterfall with a pool about 5 feet deep. It wasn’t a large spot but the fish were stacked up in it. Casting into the calm water to the left and right of the riffle I pulled out four nice trout, 3 browns and a rainbow. As I continued to work up stream I noticed a pattern. The fish were all sitting in the deepest pools they could find close to riffles. There were numerous long riffles and runs but they were just too shallow to hold anything.
The St. Vrain probably isn’t what it was before the flood but there is still good fishing to be found if you know where to look and can recognize patterns. You’re not going to find huge fish here like you can in the Platte, Big Thompson, and Poudre but there are some in the 10”–15” range to keep the angler happy. I spent about 5 hours on the water and pulled in seven fish. Most were in the 6”-8” range but I did land this nice 15” brown.
Overall, the South Fork of the St. Vrain is tricky to fish when the water level is low. Also, be prepared to do a lot of rock hopping to get around. However, there are nice fish here and if you work the water right you can have a successful day. The scenery isn’t bad either. I’ll have to give the St. Vrain another look in the Spring and Summer months when the water level is up.
– A. Egli