The Best Stretch of the South Platte River: Colorado's Dream Stream

One of the most unique and highly prized stretches of the South Platte River flows through the Charlie Meyers State Wildlife Area and is known to anglers as the "Dream Stream."
One of the most unique and highly prized stretches of the South Platte River flows through the Charlie Meyers State Wildlife Area and is known to anglers as the "Dream Stream." Graham Silver
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The South Platte River flows northeast through Colorado’s Front Range and could be considered the home-water to more Colorado anglers than any other river in the state. Small tributaries pour down from the Continental Divide and collect into the headwaters of the South Platte in the high alpine grasslands of South Park, about a two hour’s drive west of the Front Range. One of the most unique and highly prized stretches flows through the Charlie Meyers State Wildlife Area and is known to anglers far and wide as the "Dream Stream." 

For beginner and seasoned fly fishermen alike, the Dream Stream can produce excellent year-round, day-trip fishing. The relatively flat mountain grassland contains over five miles of river within a three-mile stretch of land separating Spinney Mountain Reservoir to the West and Eleven Mile Reservoir to the East. 

Surreal day at the Dream Stream
Surreal day at the Dream Stream Graham Silver

The slow and dawdling water is regulated by the Spinney Mountain dam upstream, which creates hospitable conditions for trophy trout and predictable conditions for those seeking them. Throughout the year, Brown, Cutthroat, and Rainbow trout, as well as Kokanee Salmon migrate up the river from the reservoir below, which can offer the opportunity of hooking up with a trophy-size fish. 

The Dream Stream is easily accessible and easily fished, with deep pools tucked under banks along the river’s winding course. Averaging about 20 to 30 feet wide, fisherman can work from shore to position their fly in an ideal drift, while some pools are best approached by wading in knee-to-waist deep. Due to the popularity and fishing pressure, the fish can be savvy and quickly spooked, so keeping a low profile on the water is key. The biggest challenge will be competing with other ambitious fisherman for an ideal spot to present your rig.

The Dream Stream is easily accessible and easily fished, with deep pools tucked under banks along the river’s winding course.
The Dream Stream is easily accessible and easily fished, with deep pools tucked under banks along the river’s winding course. Graham Silver

For the year-round fly fisherman, this stretch of the South Platte may be one of Colorado’s top winter waters to visit. Resident trout still linger in the deep pockets though the flows are low and may experience some icing. Springtime comes alive with the migration of Rainbows in March and April, and it’s not uncommon to see a lucky angler engaged in a long fight with a 20+ inch rainbow trout.

Summer mountain fishing is all about the dry-fly, and the Dream Stream experiences a true trout frenzy throughout the long days. Success will come with matching the hatch or splashing a grasshopper down on calm water. 

The Wilderness Area is deemed gold-metal water by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which ensures the health and vibrancy of the river’s residents.
The Wilderness Area is deemed gold-metal water by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which ensures the health and vibrancy of the river’s residents. Graham Silver

Dry-fly fishing stays exciting through the fall when Brown trout and Kokanees move up the river for their spawning run. This is an excellent time to throw streamers to the aggressive fish that cruise the bottom. In the late Fall, the river is very popular with anglers looking for the experience to catch a monster Brown and Kokanee on the same day, which is achievable on a small handful of waters in the Rocky Mountains. 

The Wilderness Area is deemed gold-metal water by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which ensures the health and vibrancy of the river’s residents. Between the reservoirs, the river flows through 8,600 feet of elevation, making a pristine mountain fly-fishing destination that contains some of Colorado’s most outstanding fish.

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