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South Platte River | Tomahawk

Tomahawk SWA Fly Fishing Information

The Tomahawk section of the South Platte River is located just out side of Hartsel, Colorado.  The Tomahawk SWA State Wildlife Area can be accessed off of HWY 9 in two different areas, each of which have public parking areas.  Tomahawk is actually the Middle Fork of the South Platte River.  Once Tomahawk meanders though miles of flat meadows it joins the South Fork of the South Platte and empties into Spinney Reservoir.

Tomahawk is one of the most beautiful sections of river in South Park, Colorado.  Tomahawk is a medium sized river, about two thirds to half of the size of the South Platte section of the Dream Stream.  Tomahawk is a summer and fall fishery.  The river freezes during the winter and is unfishable.  During the spring, Tomahawk does receive a good dose of runoff.  Tomahawk is not tailwater controlled, so water melts and flows freely off of the rocky mountains.  It is still fishable in the spring, but there are much better options in the area (Elevenmile Canyon and Dream Stream).

The fish in Tomahawk are by no means gigantic.  In fact, the average fish is quite small.  The river boasts a healthy population of brown trout.  Most of them in the 6-12 inch range.  The Colorado Division of Wildlife has been stocking catch able rainbows the past few years.  Most of those fish are in the 8-14 inch range.  Tomahawk does have a few large fish in it though.  There are not many and the large fish are all brown trout.  Undercut backs and deep holes allow for these fish to reach larger sizes.  Once the brown trout reach larger than 16 inches, they become predatory and sulk beneath the undercut banks.  A streamer or large grasshopper are the best way to coax them out from under the deep banks.

A dry dropper rig, or “hopper dropper rig”, are a great way to fish Tomahawk in the summer months.  Terrestrials and Caddis are important in diet of Tomahawk fish.  If the fish are not looking up, then nymphing is the most productive way to fool some fish.  Expect most of your rigs to be no longer than a total of 9 feet long.  Most of the time your nymph rigs will be about 3.5-5 feet in length.  Most of the holes are in this range of depth, so there is no need for long leaders.  Streamers can be quite productive in the fall months, once the brown trout have the urge to spawn.  Large to medium sized black or olive streamers are very effective when fished near the undercut banks.

Tomahawk South Platte River Hatches
Summer – Caddis, Stoneflies, Midges, Terrestrials, Pale Morning Duns
Fall – Midges, Terrestrials, Caddis
Spring – Midges, Stoneflies, Caddis
Winter – FROZEN!

Tomahawk South Platte River Flies