Colorado rafters spent at record levels last year, outfitters ready for another big season

May 15, 2016 — 

Commercial rafting remained a strong economic driver in Colorado’s high country last year with the state’s outfitters logging more than a half million user days for the sixth time in a decade.

The 508,728 commercial raft trips on 29 stretches of Colorado rivers generated $162.6 million in economic impact in 2015, setting a new record just above the economic benefit estimated for the 2014 season.

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Launch ramps on Mother Nature's timeline at Dillon, Frisco Bay marinas

May 14, 2016 — 

Mother Nature isn’t quite ready to let Lake Dillon sailing season get started. But soon enough.

At Dillon Marina and its sister south across the pond, Frisco Bay Marina, sailing season is on temporary hold until the majority of ice and snow has cleared from docks and slips. Exact opening dates depend wholly on the weather, according to Dillon Marina manager Bob Evans, even though boats at his docks currently sit in unfrozen water. It all comes down to safety — property and otherwise.

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Summit County experts pitch water conservation at 'State of the River'

May 5, 2016 — 

The major water bodies around Summit County and throughout most of the state are in strong shape after a slightly above-average winter season. However, the region is far from out of the woods on the matter of water in the West.

That was the thrust of speakers at Summit’s 23rd annual State of the River meeting on Wednesday evening, May 4 at the Silverthorne Pavilion — the first of six such meetings along the Colorado River Basin. With the Western Slope encompassing an average of 28 percent of the state’s water and spanning 15 counties, including Summit, this meeting of water wonks often sets the tone on consumption strategy and planning for rest of the year.

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Whitewater season arrives in Colorado with rafting in Browns Canyon, Upper Colorado River

May 3, 2016 — 

SUMMIT COUNTY — You’d better believe it’s whitewater season. And the best is still yet to come.

Over the weekend, local company Performance Tours Rafting and several other outfitters started running tours on the Arkansas River and perpetually popular Browns Canyon route, found in the Buena Vista area about an hour south of Summit County. Flows there are 311 cfs (cubic feet per second), which is about 200 cfs down from the early-May average of 522 cfs. But, warming temperatures and plenty of runoff are expected to bring new conditions almost daily.

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How safe is the ice on Dillon Reservoir in spring? Not very, say Summit experts

April 22, 2016 — 

SUMMIT COUNTY — Drew Fontana has one piece of advice for anyone tempted to walk out on Lake Dillon right now: don’t do it.

“It’s hard to give solid advice on ice because you can’t really say it’s ever safe,” said Fontana, captain of the all-volunteer Summit County Water Rescue Team. “With the warming temperatures there will be variable conditions, and right now, the best thing to do is just stay off the ice.”

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Best of 2015: A day of sailing the unpredictable Lake Dillon waters

January 1, 2016 — 

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the July 31 edition of the Summit Daily.

It’s an eerily calm day at the Dillon Marina, and Bob Evans is praying for something Summit sailors rarely need: A good, strong wind.

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Summit County local earns invite to World Rafting Championships in Indonesia

November 26, 2015 — 

Just 24 leg-cramping hours from now, longtime Summit County resident Koreen Padjen will step off the trans-Atlantic flight from New York City to Jakarta, Indonesia to spend early December rafting a subtropical river.

But the river is not just any river, and it’s far from just another float trip. She joins seven elite members with the USA Women’s Raft Team (aka The Red Ladies) for the 2015 World Rafting Championships on the Citarik River, found just outside the city of Sukabumi in West Java.

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Colorado Fishing Guide: Tenmile Creek in July

July 9, 2015 — 

Rain can be an angler’s best friend.

After a few solid weeks of summery weather, Mother Nature reared her fickle head over the holiday weekend and brought nearly a week of consistent rain to Summit County. Each morning and afternoon brought at least a minor drizzle — more often than not it became a legitimate downpour — and unlike a typical July in the Colorado Rockies the clouds rarely disappeared. For hikers, bikers, rock climbers and just about everyone else, it was a long and lonesome week spent inside.

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Officials host opening for Gore Canyon Whitewater Park

July 11, 2015 — 

After more than six years of planning, the Colorado River is home to a brand-new whitewater park, and it’s much more than a pretty plaything.

On July 13, officials from Grand, Summit and Eagle counties will host a grand opening for the Gore Canyon Whitewater Park, a $1.7 million project found within steps of the popular Pumphouse Campground and recreation area outside of Kremmling. The ceremony is a bona fide celebration for river rats, with kayak and stand-up paddleboard demonstrations from American Whitewater veterans, along with just about anyone who wants to test their mettle on the new waves.

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Braving the Lower Blue

July 5, 2015 — 

A little over halfway through a raft trip on the Lower Blue River, 8-year-old Remi Linderman got her first taste of Class III rapids and let out a scream somewhere between shock and giddy excitement.

“That was cold!” Remi said and turned to her mom, Julie. The two from Dallas were sitting on the front bench of a bright-blue inflatable raft when the relatively mellow waters turned choppy. As the raft rounded a corner, it entered the first set of rapids spread across nearly 3 miles of the Blue between Silverthorne and Green Mountain Reservoir.

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Lake Dillon, Colorado: Camping, Floating, Fishing and More

July 5, 2015 — 

On a summer day at Dillon Reservoir, land and water come together to create Summit County’s most iconic recreational playground. Known fondly as “Lake Dillon,” it’s one of the only places in this land-locked state where mountain sports are inspired by a combination of bikes, boats and tiki bars.

“We call Lake Dillon the ‘Tahoe of Colorado,’” said Javier Placer, co-founder of Stand Up Paddle Colorado, following a sunny Sunday lunch at Pug Ryan’s Lakeside Tiki Bar at the Dillon Marina. This is the third year the paddleboard and kayak rental company has been out on Dillon Reservoir.

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Colorado's rainbow trout population once again breeding in the wild

July 2, 2015 — 

For the first time in about two decades, rainbow trout are successfully reproducing in Colorado’s waters.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife fisheries biologist Jon Ewert said after years of strategic stocking, he recently has seen wild-hatched rainbows in Summit County’s Blue River, especially north of Green Mountain Reservoir.

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A never-ever gets a crash course in whitewater kayaking in Summit

June 27, 2015 — 

It’s hard to pin down exactly what went wrong when I accidentally flipped my kayak for the first time and, well, got pinned down.

Here’s how it went down. I was at North Pond with another never-ever boater, Ken Joel of Denver, trying to learn the basics of whitewater kayaking. Our instructor-slash-lifeguard Matti Wade of Ten Mile Creek Kayaks had led us through the basics of paddling and turning (more on that to come) when it came to the first big hurdle for any newbie: rolling.

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Mohawk Lakes Hiking Trail outside of Breckenridge, CO

June 28, 2015 — 

Lower Mohawk Lake is located in the Spruce Creek Trailhead south of Breckenridge. The lake is nestled in a deep amphitheater formed by Pacific Peak, 13,950 feet, and Mount Helen, 13,165 feet, in the Ten Mile Range. The hike is an intermediate ascent of 1,400 vertical feet, with a total distance of 6.6 miles from the Spruce Creek Trailhead. The elevation of Spruce Creek Trailhead is 10,400 feet, a thousand feet below tree line, while Mohawk Lakes are surrounded by rocky tundra and krumholz. The Mohawk Lakes Trail provides access to an area with dramatic waterfalls, rich fields of wildflowers, and relics of the mining era.

Allow at least five hours to explore the area and plan to descend in early afternoon to avoid the frequent thunderstorms that tend to form over the mountains later in the day. Carry two bottles of water to remain hydrated during the hike or pack a water filter to take water from the stream. Be prepared to find a crowd of hikers on this popular trail, accompanied by many free-roaming hunting dogs.

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Summit County Fishing Report: Rivers still strong option

October 23, 2013 — 

River fishing continues to be excellent and should continue until we have a cold snap that starts icing things up. Tailwater sections and the lower Colorado and Roaring Fork often offer open-water opportunities most of the winter.

The Colorado from Parshall downstream has been offering good fishing with a variety of patterns. Midges and mayflies are the primary surface action, although attractor pattern continue to trigger strikes (consider terrestrials to be attractors at this time). Nymphing, especially with eggs or San Juan worms is effective. Fishing deeper water, especially when stained with streamers is a great tactic right now. That makes the lower Colorado and Roaring Fork great sections to fish when the weather is clear. As most river sections are in the 40s for temperatures, the best action is often in the afternoons once things have warmed slightly.

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Summit County Fishing Report: Lots of open water in Summit and surrounding areas

October 16, 2013 — 

With temperatures dropping, it won’t be long before folks start encountering iced-over waters. Until then, it’s a good time to enjoy some great fall fishing. As waters cool, fishing typically picks up as the fish feel an urge to fatten up as much as possible before nature puts a lid on their home.

Williams Fork Reservoir has been producing the occasional northern pike, but the best action has been trolling pop gear with a worm harness for rainbow trout. Run a second line with a small, bright spoon and you have a good shot at an occasional kokanee.

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Summit County Fishing Report: Rivers, streams and reservoirs still producing

October 8, 2013 — 

Rivers and streams are running clear, low and fishing very well. With the cooling water temperatures, look for fish not in spawn to start moving to deeper runs in preparation for winter. Fishing is typically better in the afternoons and evenings after the waters have had a chance to warm. Streamers, especially woolly buggers, which can be dead drifted are effective under low light conditions. On cloudy afternoons expect to encounter some dry fly action from blue-wing olives and midges. Attractor patterns are also still effective.

Kokanee action remains hit or miss at Wolford Mountain Reservoir. Be aware that the boat ramp is scheduled to close Oct. 13. Trollers have been having good success on small rainbows.

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Missing Durango kayakers found in Tajikistan

October 4, 2013 — 
The five-member kayaking expedition in Tajikistan that called for emergency help Monday has been found, but one of three Durango men in the group is too sick to continue.

Ben Luck, suffering from hypothermia and altitude sickness, was airlifted to the U.S. embassy in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital, said Julia Klema, the sister of two Durango brothers, also among the kayakers.

Klema said her father, Tom, was notified of the rescue at 3 a.m. today. The search for the three men was coordinated by GEOS Alliance, an emergency-response service, which alerted her family of the men’s call for help on Monday.

Cooper Lambla and Charles King are the other members of the expedition. The men dropped off Sunday in Badakhshan National Park from where they were going to hike to the Muksu River for a five-day run.

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Summit County Fishing Report: It's fall — the leaves are turning & the fish are jumping

September 24, 2013 — 

Fishing rivers in fall is second only to catching them just before spring runoff. Angler pressure is low, and the fish begin feeding heavily before winter. Plus, brown trout are getting increasingly aggressive with spawning just around the corner.

The Eagle River is running clear and fishing well. Morning has been best for dry fly action. Blue winged olives, midges and caddis are good choices, but don’t overlook ants when there’s a mild breeze. Streamers and egg patterns will become increasingly effective the next few weeks.

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Man completes first solo trip of two main tributaries of lower Colorado River

October 28, 2013 — 

Imagine spending 90 days kayaking 2,400 miles alone and without support on the two main tributaries to the lower Colorado River, with only enough gear that can be stuffed into the small boat, and being the first man to ever complete such a trip.

Bryan Brown, 57, of Los Angeles, Calif., recently completed the first ever source-to-mouth solo trip of the two primary tributaries that form the lower Colorado River, according to his own research, in just longer than four months.

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Summit County Fishing Report: Choices abound for fall fishing

September 17, 2013 — 

For the most part, the rivers continue to fish well and, short of an afternoon storm, are running clear. Increased flows on the Blue River below Dillon have made it more comfortable to fish and brought about a bit of a Mysis “hatch.” Keep in mind that with each passing week, brown trout will become aggressive and streamers will become increasingly effective. Fall is a great time for caddis, terrestrials and attractor patterns. Once we have a frost, the terrestrials will be less effective.

Williams Fork Reservoir has been fishing well for small pike, most less than 24 inches long. Fly-fishers using streamers along edges (weeds or drop-offs) will do well. As the waters begin to cool, concentrate on fishing in the afternoons and don’t be afraid to fish waters up to 20 feet deep for northern pike. Note that the boat ramp is closed Tuesday through Thursday.

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Summit County Fishing Report: Kokanee salmon are coming

September 11, 2013 — 

Afternoon rains have been messing up various sections of river across the state. When faced with off-colored waters, increase your fly size and go to darker patterns. It’s easier for the fish to spot your offerings that way.

The increased releases to the Blue River, below Dillon Reservoir, have resulted in additional releases of Mysis shrimp; consequently, fishing with small translucent or whitish patterns has been effective. Midges also continue to be effective. Further downstream, work terrestrials in the afternoons, and if the rains come be ready to switch over to streamers.

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Summit County's Blue River reveals hidden charms and a kayaking legend

September 6, 2013 — 

Looking down at a steep, muddy, roughly 10-story drop on a near 50-degree slope, all I could think was, “I have to get my kayak down that?”

I now understood one of the descriptions I had heard of the runnable section of the Blue River, below Green Mountain Reservoir.

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Summit County Fishing Report: Cooler weather means less anglers on the water

September 3, 2013 — 

Labor Day has passed, and there are a number of changes in the air — or soon will be. We can expect rivers to remain low and clear (most days, as storms abate for the year).

With cooler weather, afternoon fishing will be less worrisome, as water temperatures will be cooler than the near 70s we’ve been seeing. The real treat is fewer anglers, and soon, very soon, the browns will become aggressive due to spawn. Big streamers will be the ticket as we move into October. Meanwhile, terrestrial and large attractors, such as Royal Wulffs and humpies, are a good option (away from tailwaters).

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Summit County Fishing Report: Water temps too warm? Try Blue River below Dillon

August 27, 2013 — 

The Eagle River from Minturn on down is fishing outstanding. Flows are perfect for wading, and anglers are having some great days. Many patterns are working, but caddis and terrestrials remain top choices for many. When no obvious hatch is on the water, nymphing is a good option. Attractors such as prince nymphs are doing well. With the hot weather, be sure to check water temperatures and avoid fishing if they’re higher than 70 degrees.

Fishing tailwaters such as the Blue River below Dillon is an option when water temperatures elsewhere are too warm. The Blue has been fishing fair, but with the large number of anglers, the fish are wary, so light tippets, midge patterns and good presentations are needed for success.

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Summit County Fishing Report: Best options for the week's catch

August 13, 2013 — 

Rivers continue to fish well most days, but afternoon rains can muddy things quickly. The lower stretches of the Eagle and Colorado rivers are especially prone to discoloring. When conditions permit, nymphers are having good success. When waters are stained consider dark streamers. Look for solid dry fly action early and late in the day; caddis or terrestrials are a good option.

Another river worth visiting is the Roaring Fork. While also in great condition for floating, that has created a raft/boat hatch that makes wading a better option. Like the Colorado, nymphing the deeper runs is often your best bet when boat traffic is heavy.

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Summit County Fishing Report: Summer slowdown

August 6, 2013 — 

As we move into August, many anglers find the fishing slows. There are several possible reasons for this. One, there’s an abundance of food, so the fish can afford to be picky. Further, trout have been exposed to a large number of manmade “food” items, and fish do tend to become a bit more wary. Savvy anglers adjust by fishing less-pressured waters and trying new tactics (time, location, lure/fly/bait and presentations).

South Park waters have been seeing a lot of pressure these recent weeks, but some waters continue to produce well. Jefferson Lake is worth the drive if you’re looking for fast action. While baits are popular, the fly-fishers, either long rods or spinning with fly and a bubble, have been doing best, as there’s been plenty of surface action. Any small pattern in black or peacock has a good chance of working.

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Frisco guide finds business niche with kayak tours

August 5, 2013 — 

There’s an old adage commonly known among both Colorado’s natives and transplants: come for the winter, but stay for the summer.

For South Carolina native Kyle McKenzie, 30, Colorado’s draw was just the opposite. He came for the water. Winters just happen to be one of state’s most valuable perks.

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Summit County Fishing Report: Try the nearby Eagle River for wade fishing

July 30, 2013 — 

Rivers continue to fish well, and many are offering some outstanding dry fly-fishing. A couple of things to keep in mind: Afternoon storms can quickly muddy things up. Such is the case with the lower Colorado River. We are moving into the time of year when hot weather, coupled with low flows, can result in water temperatures exceeding 70 degrees. Please avoid fishing at those times, as it can stress fish beyond their ability to recover. Opt to fish still waters or tailwaters.

Of the area rivers, the Eagle is offering outstanding wade fishing. Excellent dry fly action is occurring; it just depends on where and when you fish as to what will work best. Patterns to have on hand should imitate pale morning duns, caddis, small stones, ants and hoppers. Nymphs are always an option when surface action is quiet; pheasant tails, prince nymphs, midges, small stones and caddis larva are always good choices.

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Summit County Fishing Report: Rivers continue to be best options

July 23, 2013 — 

Rivers continue to be one of the better fishing options at this time. Flows, for the most part, are perfect, water temperatures are still good, and excellent hatches are occurring with regularity. Toss in a few terrestrials, and you have the fly-fisher’s dream — although, afternoon storms can quickly discolor the water.

The Upper Colorado River is a great choice at this time. Flows are strong, so use caution wading. Anglers will find solid dry fly action; mayfly and caddis patterns are a good choice. Small stones and hoppers are also worth trying. Nymphing is a good option when there isn’t an obvious hatch. Small stones, prince nymphs, San Juan worms and pheasant tails have been productive. Leach patterns and small spinners will also produce in the deeper runs.

Nearby Gore Creek offers anglers a small-stream experience, although it has been running a bit high and off color due to storms as of late. When clear, the dry fly action has been good with caddis and mayfly patterns. Use lighter tippet, as fishing pressure has the fish a tad spooky.

The Eagle River has also been off-colored due to afternoon rain. Come evening, when it’s running clear, look for some excellent dry fly action with caddis patterns. On breezy afternoons, ant patterns are a great choice.

Dillon Reservoir continues to produce well. Those looking to kick back with a cooler and fish with bait are seeing decent action in Frisco Bay with dough baits, such as PowerBait. Typically, early mornings are best. Evening anglers have been doing decent with a fly and bubble rig. Slowing down the retrieve (no visible wake) will often produce best.

Pike fishers are doing well right now at Williams Fork Reservoir. The only issue has been size, with most fish running less than 30 inches. Working the deeper edges will often produce a larger fish, and keep moving.

Nearby Sylvan Lake has been seeing damselflies coming off in force. These makes for exciting fishing with large dry flies. Don’t hesitate to fish smaller nymphs if the damsels fail to produce. Consider calibaetis, pheasant tails and soft hackles.

Those looking for lake trout might consider Mount Elbert Forebay. Using sucker-tipped jigs vertically jigged in 10 to 30 feet of water has been producing good action. While fish can be taken all day, the evening action has been the best.

Dave Coulson is the Colorado state editor for www.fishexplorer.com. He contributes a weekly fishing report to the Summit Daily.

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