Overland Park Pond needs Water

UPDATE – Water is flowing into the pond!! Thanks Paul, Alan, Ronnie, Casey and the powers that be !!

3/15/2016 5PM

With the help of Ronnie’s extensive contact list and fast acting officials, water is again flowing into the pond and will be more closely monitored in the the future. Thanks to all involved.

3/6/ 2016 …  Overland Park Pond needs Water.

Who do you call?  Help us out? We are trying to find out.  … Ronnies call to S.O.B.  Save Our Bass.

In July 2014 CPW planted 100 fingerling largemouth bass in Overland Park Pond after the fine restoration of the pond, $15,000 of it funded by Denver Trout Unlimited. We envisioned this great urban pond as a Gateway Fishery for kids. We didn’t envision it drying up. No river water since the Sept 2015. The bass must be gasping. We are down about 2.5 acre-ft or 840,000 gallons.

Are there trout in the Denver South Platte ?


Ronnie’s 24in Rainbow – 11/5/2015

 Denver, it’s my city and “A River Runs Through It” **

     Recent fishing (October and November 2015) in the Denver South Platte. This is a rainbow trout that I caught recently near Evans Ave and released healthy and strong for another day. The fish measured 24 inches and fought me very hard. It is a personal best
for DSP rainbows.
     Fisherman travel from all over the country to fish in Deckers Colorado, Green River Utah, and the famous Madison River in Montana, and yet we have this wonderful and vibrant fishery right here in our own backyard.

Lets promote it..!

     I’m also catching a lot of walleyes this year. Usually I catch 1 or 2 a year at 10-12 inches long.This year I am landing many over 16 inches, the biggest so far is 21 inches. Some people think that they washed out of Chatfield with the prolonged runoff this spring and summer. The smallmouth bass are strong and plentiful as usual, and the carp are still breaking my rods. No channel cats yet this year.
     The Denver Trout Unlimited, 10th Annual Carp Slam will be next September. The Carp Slam is DTU’s annual fund raiser. We raise and contribute about $25,000 dollars every year to studies, causes, and issues that effect fishing, wildlife and water quality in the Denver South Platte. The DTU Carp Slam is the biggest and longest surviving carp on a fly rod and fly tournaments in the country. Help support DTU, as all of the money goes back into making the DSP and riparian area a better place to go and enjoy yourself.
     If anyone wants to fish the DSP with me, let me know. I’ll take you to the best spots and I have equipment for you to use. All anglers have a place that they call their home water. I’m proud to call the Denver South Platte, “my home water”.
Feel free to share this to your groups and friends.

Tight lines everyone, Ronnie Crawford,
Vice President, Overland Park Neighborhood Association
DTU Board member.
** “A River Runs Through It”, a movie starring Brad Pitt, fly fishing the Madison River.

Here are a couple rainbow that my nephew, Shawn Coulter, Carp Slam 2015 Slamateur, caught recently (October 2015) in the Denver South Platte in some of my favorite spots.

Why we should support the EPA and Corps #CleanWaterRules

Why we should support the EPA & Corps of Engineers Clean Water Definition Rule.

Since Congress has been unable to fix the damage to the very successful Clean Water Act of 1972, the EPA and Corps of Engineers are soon to publish, I hope, a simple 2 page rule that defines exactly what “Waters of the United States” are protected from pollution and wetland destruction. Water, like air, is not a free resources that a property owner can pollute or destroy just because they have temporary custody. We all live downstream. Support #CleanWaterRules

Support this rule and tweet our Senators
@SenBennetCO @SenCoryGardner Support #CleanWaterRules  We must restore and maintain the biological integrity of the nation’s waters.

Read more … Is there a difference between littering the banks and polluting upstream water ?

Read more … Background from David Willis


Ronnies near completion River Report and Brian’s additional comments.

New riffle below the former Florida drop structure.  Click this photo to link to the annotated album Ronnies River Reports. (The water intake structure for Overland Golf course is in the upper right.)

Ronnie Crawford. – Unofficial River Conscience of the Florida Ave/Overland Stretch. 5/20/2015

Ronnie’s River Reports will be winding down as work on the Overland stretch, Florida to Evans Avenues, of the Denver South Platt was scheduled to be completed by now. The ongoing rains have put them back a few weeks as the DSP has been roaring for a month. Today (5/20) at the ENGLEWOOD station, it is at 3,000 cfs and 4,000 cfs yesterday-Tuesday. The DSP has been over 2,000 cfs all month and is scouring itself, as it does annually. The normal Summer flow through Overland is 75-100 cfs. The scour is a good thing and every year when I walk into the river for the 1st few times, I see many changes in the configuration of the bottom.
Last fall the 8 foot high Florida drop was removed and replaced with a 2 1/2 foot drop. The new river, below the new drop, was lined with large rocks 1-2 feet in diameter and mashed down with the “little yellow machines” so they won’t be displaced with water flow. I’m not sure why they did this, as it impedes the scour below the drop.

On upstream toward Evans Ave, are several more small drops. I asked Brian Murphy, of CDM Smith ( the engineers) what the depth between the drops would be at 75-100 cfs and he stated “about 18 inches”. An 18 inch depth for a hundred yards between drops doesn’t seen like enough depth to support much fish and there are no plans to make it a riffle for the trout and bass to feed in. Its a sculptured section. I asked Brian why they didn’t dig it deeper and he said “because the bed-rock was closer to the surface than they thought.”

The bed-rock there is a hard Colorado clay, not rock. It is removable with the earth moving equipment that Naranjo has. In my eyes, they could have dug into the clay, to create some depth and habitat. (Naranjo Civil is following engineering plans and is not responsible for the depth.) On up toward the bend in the river, a jetty is being built that extends into the river about 20 feet. This should work out well and push the water to the west side for a good scour along that bank.

The DSP, between the Florida bridge and Sanderson Gulch will be changed forever, some good and some bad. All of the holes on the west side are filled in with large gravel. It was suggested that a large structure be placed in the WEST channel under the bridge to create turbulence and help push the gravel out of the holes. These are some of the best smallmouth and rainbow holes in the DSP. This is where I caught my 18 inch (measured) smallmouth last summer. A large boulder structure was placed under the EAST channel of the Florida bridge at our suggestion. This has cleared out a deep and extended hole on the east side. This area looks good.

I like what they have done out of the river on both sides. Crusher fine walking trails have been put into place to get pedestrians off of the hard surface trail. Viewing and seating areas have been built, trees and indigenous shrubs have been planted. Most of this work is on the EAST side and it is going to look really nice.

Brian Murphy, says that it may take a year or two for the river to sort itself out. I understand that. What I find objectionable is;

  • 1) That they miscalculated where the bed-rock was and didn’t dig deeper into it, to create an acceptable habitat between drops,
  • 2) Lined the bottom of the river below the new Florida drop, which will impede future scouring,
  • 3) Let all of the classic holes south of the bridge, WEST channel fill in. The engineers don’t think this can be changed.

All along the hydrologists have told me how unpredictable water is and I understand that. My concern is that when the river finally sorts itself out, the “little yellow machines” will be long gone. It is my amateur opinion that things can still be made better while the big machinery is still in the river.
Overall, the out of river improvements are really nice. Michael Bouchard, Denver P+R Project Manager has done a good job. Salute..! The in-river changes appear to be net loss as far as fishing habitat is concerned, in my humble opinion. I want to be wrong on this…..time will tell.

Thanks, Ronnie Crawford. – Unofficial River Conscience of the Florida Ave/Overland Stretch. 5/20/2015


Editors Note:  Brian Murphy, managing engineer on this project for CDM Smith, provided this additional information and response 0n 6/2/2015

“It is true the new channel is not deeper because of the bedrock – a “hard Colorado clay” bedrock is in fact difficult (and therefore expensive) to excavate – but the new channel depth was also based on the slope we had to work with from the upstream tie-in to the downstream tie-in below the new drop structure, and the channel cross section. The new channel follows the bedrock profile exactly from upstream to downstream. The river used to follow a similar slope before the drop structure was installed in the 1970s.


Even if we had not hit bedrock, digging the channel deeper between the main riffles would not have been sustainable because the new channel would have filled up with sediment similar to the old channel behind the 8’ drop structure. The sedimentation would occur due to the top elevation of the riffles and drop structure being above the bottom of the main channel. The elevation of the new drop structure was the controlling variable – it is critical to the water delivery system that provides irrigation water to Overland Golf Course.


The 18” minimum depth in the new channel may not be optimal for carp and trout. Unfortunately this plains river wants to be shallow and wide in this stretch.  The constraints listed above limit our ability to create a narrow and deep channel here. With that said, the design did include floodplain benches to increase the overall channel depth. In addition, the design included a pool downstream of each riffle and the drop structure for aquatic habitat.


As for the filling in of the holes south and north of the Florida Avenue bridge west channel, the river is doing what it naturally does – moving water and sediment. Those holes were originally created by the old drop structure. The drop structure captured and removed most of the sediment so the water downstream of the drop was “starved” and “hungry” for sediment and scoured out the holes, which are in a bend where they naturally form. I still expect holes to form in the bend, but they will fill and scour with sediment throughout the course of the runoff cycle. I do agree that the depth of the holes will be less because of the increased sediment supply.


I realize and respect that the river is different than it was nine months ago. It is adjusting to yet again another new paradigm.Nevertheless, the river and its ecosystem are healthier now than before the project. The fish will come back, just give it time.”

Brian M. Murphy, P.E., P.H., CFM, D.WRE.  

RU fishing in the street?

Fish in the stream, NOT in the streets !

by: John Davenport, editor of The Drift. 5/2014

Popup Mist sprinkler head. 1.5 inches of water an hour is TOO MUCH. After 10 minutes in Denver It will run off before it reaches the roots.

  • Denver soils absorb water at .25 inch per hour.

  • Traditional popup mist sprinklers soak them at 1.5 inches of water per hour. So if you run your sprinkler for more than 10 minutes, you are actually moving fishable water from the Fraser, Blue, and S. Platte to the Denver Streets.

  • Rotator Head
    A rotator head pumps out only .5 inches per hour so you can water for 30 minutes and get water deep encouraging your grass (RTF of course) to send down deep roots.

    But you can easily swap out to popup rotator heads (.5 inch per hour), plug unneeded heads with a 3/16 in washer, and water for 30 minutes 2x/week and keep the fishable water where it belongs.

  • Check out this slide show to see how easy it is to do. 

  • Questions? email me  

Ronnie Gets Reel

By Ronnie Crawford – S. Platte Riverkeeper, Riverwatcher, Riverhead. 1/25/2014

Ronnie’s Hardy Reel

Several years ago, my nephew Shawn, called and said that he would be coming to Colorado to visit a client. He asked me to set up a fly fishing trip for us. Then he said, “Ronnie, I’m going to bring your reel back.” What the heck, I don’t remember loaning him a reel, so I asked him what he was talking about. “Well, I have your first reel and I want to return it, for you to enjoy.” This all seemed so nuts. What reel?
He went on to explain that when I had gotten older (college age) that my father, Shawn’s Grandfather, had given him the reel as a hand-me-down and would be Shawn’s first reel. Shawn has fished with this reel from the early 70’s thru the 90’s, before he updated to the newer equipment.
A few months passed and Shawn visited and walked up to me gave me a big hug, stepped back and proceeded to hand me the reel. As he held it in his palm, it was shining in the afternoon sun. I stared at it… picked it up… and felt like I had been united with an old friend. I remembered that damned old reel. He told me it was very valuable now and for me to enjoy it as we both had years ago.
Several years have passed and I wanted to know more about that reel. The Fly Fishing Show 2014 was on the horizon. I put the old reel in my pocket and headed to the show. It was burning a hole in my pocket, so I skipped a bunch of booths an searched for the Hardy booth. I walked up to the booth with the reel in hand, to talk to the Hardy rep. John Shaner. He was just finishing a conversation, saw the reel and politely excused himself from that conversation.
I told him that it was my first reel and handed it to him. He smiled like someone had handed him some gold. He looked down at it, looked at me, looked down at it again, and then with the biggest smile, looked me square in the eyes…he was almost speechless, “you were a very fortunate young man.”

Wow, the biggest smile yet. Inside were the stamped initials, JS. He explained that JS was the old master reel maker at Hardy Bros., Jimmy Smith. He told me some Jimmy Smith stories and spoke of Jimmy’s expertise. He coveted my reel and gently said that it was, with those initials, one of the most highly sought after Hardy reels around. I told him that I would send him quality photos of the reel, ’cause he wanted to show his friends. John and I had a great conversation about my old reel and his excitement and enthusiasm were infectious. He cleaned the reel and lubricated it before handing it back to me.
I think that I’ll use the reel this season. I might even pull my original Orvis Battenkill out of the closet and reunite the rod and reel and act like a kid, fishing in Ohio, again.

Fishing with Ricardo

An Entertaining Gateway.

by Ronnie Crawford, V.P. Overland Park Neighborhood Association and Board Member, Denver Trout Unlimited.

A funny thing happened the other day on the Overland area of the South Platte. I finally got to meet-up with my old friend Ricardo Baca. Ricardo has been a music critic and writer as long as I can remember. He’s the lucky guy that gets to go to any and all concerts and events that he wants. He lives the “rock-n-rollers” dream of having access to, spending time with and interviewing artists. Ricardo is a regular at the Skylark, as a small cadre of writers are.
Somehow several years ago Ricardo and I started to talk about fishing. The conversation quickly turned to fly-fishing. His father is an ardent fly-fisherman, dry flies only. Ricardo mentioned that he hasn’t fished locally and didn’t know where to start. As this conversation progressed, my smile must have gone ear to ear, because he asked what I was smiling about. I had to, with reserved guilt, tell him that I’m on the Denver South Platte 4 or 5 days a week. He was very curious. “Where on the S. Platte?” he asked.
He and I have tried many times over the years to hook up and meet on the river. He’s so dammed busy, with all of the concerts and deadlines, that he’s cancelled with me many times. I keep him in the loop and bait him by sending him my fishing stories.
Finally, he contacts me and tells me that he is going to do a story about fishing, in the Denver South Platte. This is trouble. He’s the Entertainment Editor of the Denver Post. We set a day, a Monday morning, (after the Prince concert the night before.) Will the Denver South Platte be as entertaining as Prince? We meet up at Overland Pond parking lot at 10 am. A little early for him.
I was curious as to how he would present himself. How does the Entertainment Editor of the Denver Post present himself for a day of fishing. What would he wear? What kind of equipment would he have? I had no idea what to expect. Would he look like me ( I purposely try not to look like the suited-up typical fly-fisherman) or would he look like John Davenport, as if an Orvis Store has thrown up on him. Incidentally, I invited John to join us for the day on the DSP. Ricardo brought his photographer, Cyrus McCrimmon.
Ricardo got out of the car with his Converse All stars on, shorts, and a casual shirt. He simply put on his wading shoes, and got his equipment from the trunk. A few minutes later we were headed to the falls, upstream of the Florida bridge. Incidentally, he uses one of the “old school” Pflueger Medalist reels, not one of the cool aluminum ones. I had caught several 14-16 inch smallmouth there a few days before. I knew that we were in for a good day. John and Ricardo hit the riffles below the dam and I tried the deep hole immediately below the falls. Cyrus was cruising around getting shots of us from all angles and directions. It’s a little weird to me to be photographed while fishing. Maybe that was the problem. None of us caught anything. We even went down to where Bear Creek hits the S. Platte. Still nothing. I wish that I could blame it on the photographer, but I can’t.
At any rate, John, Ricardo, and myself had a good time fishing the Denver South Platte. The post article should be out soon. Then we’ll know what he thought of us and the DSP. I don’t think that I’ve ever read a Post fishing article, from anyone other than the Outdoors writer. It’ll be interesting.

Construction has finally started on the improvements at Overland Pond, which DTU helped fund. The improvements include a revamped dock, for easy and improved ADA access, deepening of the Pond, and a boat launch and easier water access at the N.E. corner of the Pond. The pond will be stocked by the state with smallmouth bass, bluegills, and channel catfish.The Overland Pond has always been a “gateway fishery” through the years. Now with deepening, it can come up to it’s full potential. There’s hardly anything cooler than hearing a kid squeal when they hook into a fish. Very gratifying. Squealing will start next Spring. Maybe DTU can organize an event there.
The City of Denver will present the Overland Park Neighborhood Association with the “60%” plan for the redesign of Grant Frontier Park, north past the golf course, to and including Overland Pond Park. Cutting down the old growth cottonwoods and other flora, is in the plan. Come and join the neighbors for this presentation, as it is sure to create much controversy. It will be an open meeting at Grant-Frontier Park on June 27th at 6:30 pm.  G-F park is at the S.E.corner of Evans and Huron, paralleling the east side of the river. Everyone is invited and we will be given the presentation by Michael Bouchard, City Project Manager. Join us.

What’s the fun of Christo’s Over the River? None for you sucker.

What’s the fun of Christo’s Over the River? None for you sucker.  

OTR Corp Photo of live OTR installation test on private land.

By: John Davenport 3/24/2013

I love art. Ronnie loves art. We all love Luna’s ballet, Clint’s landings, Casey’s flies, Fred’s casts, Will’s poems, Tim & Randall’s photos, and Scott’s gyotaku prints, so don’t call us anything but art lovers. So it is with trepidation that I have to point out the cautions on Christo’s fabric Over the (Arkansas) River projects. We love art but we love fly fishing more and there is no love for fly fishing in this project. In fact the final environmental statement from the BLM states:

Because casting would be difficult or impossible under many of the cables, this would result in displacement of anglers from the panel locations, or from the Project Area as a whole.”


Here are the areas of impact on a composite map I created.

Probable impact areas

The problem for us, if we’d like to fish the project area between February and November like we always have, is that we can’t because of the cables and construction. The project is currently on hold but will probably be started in February of 2014 with the viewing to take place the first two weeks in August 2014.

Of all the recreation, restaurant, lodging, local tax authorities, and myriad other entities, only Fishing and Hunting are predicted to show negative impact from this project. An estimated 1,600 angler visits will be precluded out of the 100,000 normally on the Upper Arkansas. Read the whole FEIS here.

It is  almost impossible put  fly fishers off their game with a piece of fabric. All we need is:

  1. access to the water, which on public land is usually not a problem.
  2. at least a little water, which on a river like the Arkansas, unlike the South Platte is not a problem.
  3. and some fish, which at 5,000 a mile is absolutely not a problem on the Arkansas.


And we share. Whether its rafters, tubers, swimmers, kayakers, gold panners or hikers along the banks; they all love us, watch us cast, and wish us luck. We know that they don’t seem to put down or disturb the fish too much. (Beware, we don’t share well with trash droppers, dynamite chuckers and gold suckers.)


Our impact on the river is tiny. Our tippet, leader and line are designed to be almost invisible and our fly is chosen to look like thousand already in the river. We don’t tromp down bushes along the bank because our feet are usually in the river.


Yes, there is  one thing we are guilty of as charged; hanging an occasional fly in the trees. At $3 a crack, we try our damnest to free it from the tree but it does happen. With the wind on the Arkansas, lack of roll casting skills, and flawed vertical sets flies in the over head trees are inevitable. So picture what would happen if the number of trees along 5.9 miles of the Arkansas are increased by 1,300 with branches that stretch from bank to bank dipping down to as low as 8 feet above the water. Here’s what happens in Golden.

Cast meets Cable in on the Golden Mile in Golden, Colorado

Cast meets Cable in on the Golden Mile in Golden, Colorado


The Over The River project is a two week public art installation in the first half of August by artist Christo (The Gates in Central Park). It is expected to draw 344,000 visitors. None of it is on private land, so all of it is presumably on fishable stretches of Bighorn Sheep Canyon between Parkdale and Salida.


Currently, 3/21/2013 the project is on hold pending resolution of two law suits. See http://www.overtheriverinfo.com for the current status according to the artist.

It is expected to draw 344,000 visitors. Over two years anchors will be placed on opposite sides of the river. Over a 4 month period cables will be strung across the river. Two weeks prior to opening, the fabric will we fastened with carabiners to the cables. After the viewing, the fabric will be removed in 2 weeks, and the cables during the following two months. All surface level holes will be filled and ground restored and re-vegetated.


Thirteen hundred cables will be strung from 8 to 25 feet above the river. Cables would span the river for up to 6 months (generally April – October) at Three Rocks, a portion of Spikebuck, and a portion on Parkdale. Cables would span the river for up to 3 months at County Line, Tunnel, Vallie Bridge, Texas Creek, and Maytag. For most of this period, the cables would not support fabric panels, but would be marked with flight diverters. The birds will probably be pissed.

Luckily there is a many places to fish in Colorado. The 1,600 members of Denver Trout Unlimited will be impacted by Over The River, but we won’t stop fishing.


We love kayakers, but …

We love Kayakers ..

by John Davenport, editor DTU eNews – My own opinion.

rafters, and even float tubers sharing the stream with us. We wave, they talk to us and wish us well. The trout that we spook with just the cast of a shadow don’t seem to be bothered by the floating rafts or slicing paddles.  The more of us that are enjoying the streams the better our chances of keeping them clean, full, and cold.

But ..

when permanent cables are strung across streams near rapids, boulders, or back water pools, then the river recreation site becomes a single use boating venue. The vertical slalom gates are hung from these cables only during the competition events or practice sessions a few times per year, as far as I can tell. But the cables themselves hold permanent guard over the best trout habitat and fishing spots on the stream. Regardless of skill or type of fishing equipment, on frustration can result in trying to fish these spots. If you don’t become tangled in the cable on the forecast, you’ll be tangles on it during a missed strike. You can’t wade into the stream and untangle it, as you can from a rock or tree branch because it is far above the stream surface. The only choice is to break it off leaving an additional obstacle for future anglers and an unsightly mess for other river users. (And parenthetically an extremely dangerous sharp invisible hook dangling at head height over the rapid ready to impale a kayakers face or eye.)

Clear Creek “Golden Mile” in Golden, Colorado. Not visible in this photo is another cable holding a tangle with at least one hook directly over the chute.

After years of effort, fund raising, permitting, and construction the West Denver Trout Unlimited’s Golden Mile has been made un-fishable in spots by these permanent cables crossing Clear Creek.

Confluence Park Slalom Course refuse 2012.

Confluence Park Slalom Course refuse 2012.

Improvements over the years in making the South Platte a multi-use recreation river are also impacted by the “permanent” installation of slalom course cables. The high water of 2011 uprooted the “permanent” poles cemented into the banks and tangled the cables in the downstream waterways and mid-channel islands leaving an efficient net to snare plastic bags, cans, tree limbs, and fish. Unfortunately, no boating organizations showed up to help Denver Trout Unlimited and The Greenway foundation clean up this mess at the 2012 Spring RiverSweep. We were only partially successful. There is about a half a mile of unsightly cable out of reach still strung from bank to bank opposite Cuernavaca Park.

The good news is that this type of kayaking is no longer very popular among kayakers, according to some interviewed on the Denver South Platte at confluence park. Removal of the permanent cables would probably not be met by any opposition.


Fishing for Manhole Covers

Fishing for Manhole Covers  by  Ronnie Crawford


While at my bank last summer, at Evans and S. Broadway, where everything is torn up for street improvements, I noticed that Denver has new manhole covers. Manhole covers, how mundane.

Well they are really cool. They are completely redesigned and very arty. I have seen three variations so far, two with rainbow trout and one with a bass. They say on them “City of Denver-Storm Sewer, No Dumping-Drains to River”, with a fish motif in the middle.

I got to thinking about the damaged manhole cover in front of the Skylark. What a neat thing , if I could get the damaged one replaced with a “fish motif” cover, instead of a generic one. So, I started a conversation with my councilman and City Council President, Chris Nevitt. Nevitt is a friend of mine and I call him Nevitt, not Councilperson Nevitt, which would be the appropriate thing.

Following is an e-mail conversation between Nevitt and myself. Quite humorous. Not the usual exchange between a City Councilman and a constituent.

The next time you are at the Skylark, check out the manhole cover. They can be cool, and it WILL make you smile. This goes along with what Jeff Shoemaker was saying at our last DTU meeting, about street trash, ending up in the river. The new man hole covers are a conscious and sub-conscious way of getting people, to think and realize, that all street trash, and water run-off, goes straight to the river. Kids walking with their parents will spot the fish long before they know how to read what the message is. That might start a conversation between the kids and the parents, concerning improving our environment.