Winter keeps creeping in, and with it open, still-water opportunities are beginning to wane. Waters above 10,000 feet in elevation are mostly capped with ice, and with each passing week, the elevation threshold for ice drops. While early ice can offer some of the best fishing of the year, it also can be thin. In the best case, if one crashes through, wet is all that will happen; in the worse cases, lives are lost. So when heading out on early ice, be prepared and consider never going out on less than 4 inches of hard, clear ice.
Nearby Officer’s Gulch is reported to be ice-capped but is not considered safe by one report. Dillon Reservoir is mostly open, with ice forming around the Snake River inlet. Expect to see early icers there, but venturing onto ice with open water nearby is dangerous. No reports of kokanee yet, but the trout fishing has been solid.
Downstream, Green Mountain is seeing a little ice in the shallow inlets. Now is a great time to be throwing large spoons, spinners and jigs for lake trout near the steeper slopes with open water. Further away, Wolford has been producing kokanee and trout. Bright streamers with a fly rod can be productive, as are small jigs below a float.
For those looking for a warm-water fix, Rifle Gap and Harvey Gap reservoirs to the west have been producing perch and a few pike and smallmouth bass. The ramps are closed to boats, but float tubes are all right.
The Blue River below Dillon Reservoir offers decent fishing at this time. As we move into winter, expect midges to be your primary fly, be it a dry or nymph. There remain a couple of weeks before the other rivers ice up, so consider fishing them. Right now is a great time to be fishing the lower Colorado River around Glenwood Springs. Some reports indicate that midge patterns are good, but this is a good time to work streamers. You might not get as many strikes, but those that hit will be better fish. Size up those tippets to 3X to keep from breaking off.
Finally, the kokanee have shown in the Dream Stream. If you don’t mind the crowds, it’s offering some good action.
Dave Coulson is the Colorado state editor for www.fishexplorer.com.