Manitou Springs Colorado

Anyone who enjoys great scenery and prime tailwater fishing (and who doesn’t!) will enjoy Manitou Springs, Colorado. Located near Pike’s Peak and surrounded by national forest, this beautiful small town of under 5,000 people has a lot to offer fly fishing aficionados as well as other outdoor enthusiasts.

Within a few miles of town it’s possible to reach some of the finest trout fishing in Colorado, if not the country, on the South Platte River. The three top sections along the Platte easily reached from Manitou Springs are Cheesman Canyon and Deckers, northwest of town; the Dream Stream, which runs between Spinney Mountain Reservoir and Eleven Mile Reservoir, and the Eleven Mile Canyon stretch that runs downstream of its reservoir.

There are other great choices as well. The Middle Fork of the South Platte is designated as both a Gold Medal and Wild Trout Stream while the South Fork of the South Platte is blessed with Gold Medal status. These waters are defined as being able to produce at least 60 pounds of trout per acre, and at least twelve 14" or larger trout per acre on a sustained basis. Only 316 miles of Colorado's 9000 miles of trout streams, and three lakes, carry the Gold Medal label. Spinney Mountain Reservoir is one of the few still waters in the region to carry Gold Medal distinction. Downstream from Cheesman is another good section that runs next to the town of Deckers. Deckers has good public access and can be fished throughout most of the year.

While Manitou Springs is now a historical town that attracts tourists and sports minded visitors, it began as a mining town and spa, made famous by its natural mineral springs. Founded in 1872, it became known as a place to go to “get the cure” from the town’s healing waters and serene setting. Situated on the Ute Pass Trail, covered wagons eventually gave way to rail cars when in the late 1880’s the Colorado Midland Railway succeeded in getting tracks through the passage. Today the town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In addition to any number of outdoor activities, the town also hosts entertaining events. Concerts, speaker series and arts and crafts festivals are well attended. Perhaps the most famous is the Pike’s Peak Ascent and Marathon, so difficult and physically taxing, that runners must pass a qualifying test before being allowed to enter the competition.

There are several ways to get to Manitou Springs, including:
  • Fly to Colorado Springs Municipal Airport and drive for approximately 20 minutes
  • Fly to Pueblo Memorial Airport and drive for approximately 45 minutes
  • Fly to Denver International Airport and drive for approximately 1½ hours
  • Fly to Albuquerque International Airport and drive for approximately 5 hours
Addictive Angling Colorado Guide Trips take place on the South Platte River. The South Platte is one of the most well known trout rivers in the United States. The South Platte begins ... morewest of Denver as a small, meandering mountain meadow stream. As the South Platte flows east, it pours into a series of Reservoirs. Starting with Antero Reservoir and flowing into Spinney Reservoir, the Upper South Platte River located in South Park, Colorado, provides anglers with ample opportunities to catch Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, and Snake River Cutthroats. From Spinney Reservoir the South Platte flows for 5 1/2 miles before it meets Elevenmile Reservoir. This stretch is known as the Dream Stream due to the large trout that call this section of the river home. Below Elevenmile Reservoir the South Platte River flows through Elevenmile Canyon. This beautiful boulder filled canyon offers amazing fly fishing for anglers looking to wet a fly close to Colorado Springs. Eventually, the South Platte flows further downstream into Cheesman Reservoir. Below Cheesman Reservoir exists another beautiful Canyon. Cheesman Canyon Trout are some of the smartest and most beautifully colored fish in Colorado and will test the skill levels of even the most experienced fly fishermen. Downstream of Cheesman Canyon is one of the most popular stretches of the South Platte River. The Deckers area provides easy access and many miles of Public Water fly fishing full of trout eager to take a fly. Below Deckers, the river continues into Strontia Springs Reservoir before it once again flows through yet another beautiful canyon and finds itself flowing into Chatfield Reservoir on the South West Corner of the Denver Metro Area. After the South Platte leaves Chatfield it continues is journey North East until it eventually meets up with the North Platte River. Whatever stretch you decide to fish, the South Platte River offers some of the best fly fishing in the country.
Fishing Waters
Headwatered high in the Collegiate Range of the eastern Rockies, just north of Leadville, the Arkansas River begins its long journey to the gulf. It traverses the valleys of Mt. Ebert ... moreand other 14,000+ peaks, passes through Buena Vista, and turns east to Pueblo before reaching the Kansas state line. Measuring over 1,469 miles, it is the second longest river in the Mississippi-Missouri river system and the 45th longest river in the world.

According to several sources, including the Colorado Parks and Wildlife agency, this freestone section on the Arkansas River has become the most popular fishery in the state. This may be attributed to high fish counts, easy public access and its recently acquired, (2014) 102-mile Gold Medal Water designation, the longest continuous run in the state. Once polluted by mining runoff, state intervention and conservation efforts have restored the water making the Gold Medal status possible.

Once home to native cutthroat, the river is now predominately rainbows and browns. Densities range from 2,000 to 5,000 fish per mile with an average size of 13 to 15 inches, while 18+ inchers are not uncommon and are there to be taken. Within the Gold Medal section it is catch and release for rainbows.

In contrast to the upper freestone part of the river, east of the Pueblo Reservoir there is great tailwater fishing. Here the river is characterized by gentle bends, deep holes and majestic stands of cottonwood groves. Here cutthroats and rainbows are abundant while the trophy browns, usually older and wiser fish, tend to be difficult to catch.
Game Fish Opportunities:
Southwest of Denver, the South Platte River is formed by the convergence of the South Fork and Middle Fork rivers. Its drainage basin, on the eastern side of the Front Range Rocky ... moreMountains, is quite substantial covering large parts of Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska. Together with the North Platte, they form the Platte River that winds through Nebraska and eventually joins the Missouri River. There are three main areas along the South Platte that are known for great trout fishing, each a unique and worthwhile adventure: Cheesman Canyon, Dream Stream and Eleven Mile Canyon.

Cheesman Canyon has the rarified distinction of being ranked as both a Wild trout and a Gold Medal stretch of water. Known for its huge boulders, arid clime and towering Ponderosas, the river is also considered to be one of the most technically difficult tailwater fisheries in the state. It is also known for rewarding anglers with large rainbows (average 14-16 inches and many over 20) and sizeable browns. Throughout the canyon you can expect to find deep pocket water, rifles and small pools. Fishing is possible year round although it is catch and release only.

Open to the public, the Gold Medal Dream Stream runs from the Spinney Mountain Reservoir to Elevenmile Canyon. Famous for it trophy rainbows, cutthroats and browns, the Dream Stream is also known for its Kokanee salmon that arrive during their fall spawning season. Trout weighing 2-3 pounds are commonplace, while larger fish, including monster 20+ inchers, are also possible. Fish here tend to be skilled at avoiding detection and prepared to put up a good fight, humbling even the most experienced anglers. This 3-mile section is strictly catch and release, artificial lures only.

Between the Elevenmile Reservoir and Lake George, the South Platte flows through a gorgeous canyon with riffles, runs and pocket water. Steep canyon walls protect from wind and offer shade during summer months. Largely a rainbow fishery, browns and cutthroats are also here. Most fish measure over a foot long but much bigger fish can be found. The top two, Gold Medal miles of the canyon have the highest concentration of trout; catch and release only here. Public access to the canyon is excellent, and this year-round fishery can be crowded. Miraculously, the fish seem oblivious, easier to catch here than on other parts of the river.
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