Annual insect hatches have begun on some rivers, lakes
Fishing across Colorado has moved into prime time.With the official arrival of summer some two weeks away, conditions across much of the state are becoming optimal. The only exceptions may be rivers, where the spring runoff is under way, and some alpine lakes where ice might still be lingering and access can be blocked by remaining snow drifts.Fishing in many reservoirs has been good for trout. Fish still are feeding close to shore in many lakes, within easy casting distance for bait and spin fishermen. Aquatic insects such as Chironomidae midges and Callibaetis mayflies have appeared on many lakes, including the North Park lakes and Elevenmile and Spinney Mountain reservoirs, and damselflies are not far behind. The lake hatches offer potentially good fly fishing for large trout to boating and belly-boating anglers and in some cases to shoreline casters. Kokanee salmon have been a little slow in coming around, but some fairly good catches have been reported in the Granby complex of lakes and Blue Mesa Reservoir. As a rule, the salmon still are in relatively shallow water, where they are accessible to fishermen without the need for lead-core line, downriggers or other deep-trolling aids.Northern pike, for the most part, have finished spawning and soon will be feeding aggressively in shallow water. No limit applies to pike, and fishermen are encouraged to catch and keep the toothy predators, which provide excellent table fare.Many streams remain high and discolored, but the runoff appears to have peaked on most. Consequently, the remaining runoff is likely to be of short duration.An exception might be the South Platte River. The basin had one of the highest snowpacks in the state, and plenty of snow remains on the slopes. Upper basin reservoirs including Antero, Elevenmile and Spinney Mountain are full, and flows in the tailwater stretches below the dams have been rising. Once conditions stabilize, fishing should be good well into the summer. The annual stonefly hatch is well under way along the upper Colorado and lower Gunnison rivers. Summer hatches such as pale morning dun mayflies and caddis are becoming prominent on many other rivers.June often is the best month of the year for warm-water fishing. Bass, walleyes and wipers, among other species, are in a feeding mode. Many are in fairly shallow water and can be taken on crankbaits and other shallow-running lures.Denver MetroClear Creek (above Hwy. 119) – The water level remains high; use caution. Fish along the edges with black Woolly Buggers or dry flies with a dropper. Clear Lake – The lake south of Georgetown off the Guanella Pass road is open and recently was stocked with catchable-sized rainbow trout. It also has some brook trout and a few browns. Fishing can be fairly good on a variety of baits and lures, but success largely depends on periodic stocking. The north shore often is the best location. No boats are permitted on the lake. South Platte River (Waterton Canyon) – The river has been unusually high and discolored. Fishing is difficult. The section from Strontia Springs Dam downstream to 300 yards above the Marston diversion structure is restricted to artificial flies and lures and offers the best fishing. The most effective lures for spin-fishermen often are small Panther Martins, Mepps or Blue Fox spinners. Night crawlers usually are the most effective bait in the unrestricted lower stretch. NorthwestBlue River (below Green Mountain Reservoir) – Flows below Green Mountain Dam have dropped dramatically and on Tuesday morning were 438 cfs. A catch-and-release provision went into effect May 1 for the river from Green Mountain Dam to the Colorado River. The river holds its share of trout, but through much of this section courses through private property. Blue River (Dillon to Green Mtn. Res.) – The river below Dillon Reservoir has been flowing at a cold, clear 800 cfs, but that could change at any time if Dillon Reservoir spills. If so, the water will be warmer and fish will feed more actively. Many of the giant rainbows, cutthroats, and browns that generally reside in the no-fishing zone move downstream at the higher flows. Though wading can be difficult, fish with San Juan Worms, large Mysis shrimp, egg patterns, red midges and larger nymphs. Walk the banks and look for fish feeding in the soft pockets along the edges of the river. When you find a pod of fish, cast from the bank. North of Silverthorne, conditions are less than prime from the tributary creeks. Colorado River (below Parshall) – Flows at Parshall, below the Williams Fork confluence, on Tuesday were 513 cfs. Near Kremmling, the volume was 1,170 cfs, a marked decrease from last week. If flows remain reasonably constant, fishing should be good with dark stonefly nymphs and possibly adults, caddis and even some terrestrial patterns. Colorado River (Glenwood to Rifle) – The Colorado River has been flowing at 6,840 cfs below Glenwood Springs, where visibility into the water is ranging from 6-12 inches. With the recent heat wave, fishing has slowed down because of rising water levels. Fish can be caught tight to the banks in the “softer” water. Stonefly and drake nymphs are fishing the best. In a change of pace, carp fishing has been very good from Rifle downstream to DeBeque along the backwater sloughs using Clouser Minnows, Woolly Buggers, Princes, 20-Inchers and scuds. Colorado River (near Granby) – Flows on Sunday morning were 145 cfs below Windy Gap, 389 cfs near Parshall and 1,290 cfs near Kremmling. The river still is somewhat discolored in all but the immediate tailwater sections. The fluctuating flows below Windy Gap make interesting fishing patterns. The annual stonefly hatch has started, though timing the activity is hit-and-miss. Some caddis also have been reported. In the immediate Granby area and downstream to the bridge at the west end of Byers Canyon, bait fishing is permitted and two fish may be kept. Inquire in Granby for the latest conditions. Fryingpan River – Fishing along the Frying Pan has been exceptionally good lately. Flows below Ruedi Reservoir are at 132 cfs, with gin-clear water. Because of that, light tippets of 6X and 7X are mandatory. Good hatches of BWOs are being seen daily, as well as sporadic hatches of PMDs and caddis along the lower river. The best fishing has been midday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Several fish in the 2- to 6-pound range have been caught lately in the top two miles below the dam. Hot fly patterns include: No Hackle BWOs, CDC Comparadun BWOs, E/C Caddis, Bill’s Midge Emerger, Poxyback Baetis, PTs, RS-2s, BWO Soft Hackles, PMD Sparkleduns, PMD Cripples, Tim’s Mysis and Sands’ Epoxy Mysis. Grand Lake – Consistent fishing on this deep, natural lake requires some learning and experience but can be highly rewarding. Spinners, Rapalas, vertical jigging, fly fishing, trolling and bait fishing all can produce brown trout, rainbows, large lake trout and kokanee. Boat access between Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain Reservoir is possible. The water level of this lake remains constant. Fishing off the public dock area has been good. Inquire in Granby for updates. Green Mountain Reservoir – Fishing is still good from the shore and boats. Night crawlers and orange Power Bait are the hot baits. Red and yellow Rooster Tails and lures with a frog pattern are also working. The lake level is still coming up. Rifle Gap Reservoir – Conditions at Rifle Gap are excellent. The water temperature is about 58 degrees. The boat ramps are in the water and accessible. The buoys are also out in the water, so please pay attention to the no-wake areas. Early trout fishing from the bank has been good on Power Bait and worms. Several walleyes have been caught by Rainbow Point. Boating fishermen have taken some northern pike by trolling large Rapalas and similar lures, or gold or silver spoons. Smaller pike also have been taken on streamer flies. Some 8- to 13-inch yellow perch have been taken on jigs and by fly fishermen using Clouser Minnows off the bottom in 5-8 feet of water. Roaring Fork River – The Roaring Fork climbed dramatically in recent days, though good water clarity exists from Aspen down to Carbondale. Below Carbondale, the river has about 6-12 inches of visibility, making for decent floating conditions but tough for the wade fisher. Good hatches of BWOs and caddis are being seen on a daily basis. Expect the river to clear up in the next week to two weeks. Hot fly patterns include: 20 Inchers, red Copper Johns, Princes, Molting Stones, Kaufmann Stones, Stimis, Parachute Quill BWOs, King Kongs and Paranobyls. Williams Fork River – Flows below Williams Fork Dam on Tuesday were 381 cfs, a bit high for prime fishing, but still manageable. Midges still are the dominant hatch and provide most of the action for brown trout, but some small blue-wing-olive mayflies have been coming off in the afternoons. Likely fly-fishing patterns include beadhead Barr’s Emergers, Black Beauties and Pheasant Tails in sizes 20-24. Yampa River (Stagecoach through Steamboat) – The river remains high, flowing at around 1,000 cfs, but it has been fishable. Stonefly nymphs and various streamer patterns have worked best. The .6-mile tailwater below Stagecoach Dam remains a productive stretch of river but it can get crowded. Midges and a few blue-wing-olives are on the water there. SoutheastArkansas River No.3 (Through Pueblo) – Flow below the dam has risen considerably and were at 2,180 cfs early last weekend. The water is stained and visibility is limited. Fish will be concentrated in clearer water near the banks and in pocket water. Fish a No. 12 bead-head Prince Nymph, and use a San Juan Worm as the dropped fly. Black or olive Woolly Buggers fished in the deeper water will be effective. Habitat improvements have created deeper pools and structure for the fish to thrive in even when releases from Pueblo Dam are minimal. Standard fishing regulations and limits are in effect on this section of the river. Arkansas River (Buena Vista to Salida) – On Saturday, flows were 1,080 cfs in Buena Vista and 1,380 in Browns Canyon, with good visibility and a water temperature in the low to mid-50s. The drop in flows has made it easier for fish to feed and they are doing so along the edges and the bottoms of slower holes. Stoneflies and caddis are active throughout this reach. Arkansas River (Leadville to Buena Vista) – Saturday’s flows in the Hayden Meadows reach were 372 cfs and stable, while flows at Granite had dropped to 768. Clarity is good and fish are feeding hard on stonefly nymphs and dries, as well as caddis late in the day and evening. Arkansas River (Salida to Canon City) – On Saturday, flows were 1,430 cfs at Wellsville and 1,610 at Parkdale, with continued decreases expected into the week. After some tough conditions because of runoff, fish are feeding hard along the edges on stoneflies and caddis. Attractor-dry/dropper rigs and streamers are also working well. Elevenmile Reservoir – Overall trout-fishing success ranges from poor to fair. Worms, marshmallows, various Power Baits and assorted spinners have been the best baits. Trout that have been caught recently are ranging from 18- to 20-plus inches. Northern pike fishing has picked up, with the majority of fish less than 20 inches. The bag and possession limit is 10 kokanee salmon and four trout, of which only two can be 16 inches or longer. No limit applies to northern pike. Boating is permitted daily from 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset. South Platte River (btwn Spinney and Elevenmile) – Flows are increasing, and with Spinney Mountain Reservoir full are likely to go higher. On Tuesday morning, the volume had risen to 177 cfs. Though conditions have been demanding, some good-sized trout still are being reported. Fishermen may use only artificial flies and lures below Spinney, and catch-and-release rules apply. Brown trout catches have been abundant above Spinney. As usual, this area attracts large crowds this time of year. Spinney Mountain Reservoir – Fishing at Spinney is by artificial flies and lures only, with a bag and possession limit of one trout at least 20 inches long. The action is improving as water temperatures rise. The water level continues to rise and the upper end seems a little roily. Fishing has been good throughout the day, with average trout catches in the 18- to 22-inch range. The most successful flies have been scud patterns, various streamers and white jigs. As usual, marabou jigs are hot. This is a day use park, opening 1/2 hour before sunrise and closing one hour after sunset. Boating is permitted daily from 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset. SouthwestGunnison River (below Crystal Dam) – Flows are at 476 cfs, the clarity is good and fishing is really fun. Most of the excitement is down in the Gorge, up at least to the Smith Fork, with the stonefly hatch in full swing. Pack some caddis and BWOs. It will be later in the week before the hatch gets up to the National Park. Use big stones – all patterns – and big nymphs, the uglier the better. For the BWOs, try nymphs like Copper Johns, Flashback PTs and RS-2 emergers. For adult patterns, try Adams, Parachute Adams, BWOs and Thorax versions. A nice caddis hatch also has been coming off. Try green Pulsating Caddis, Foam Caddis and Peacock Caddis. Lots of midges are around, especially later in the afternoon. Try an adult midge or a Griffiths Gnat. Gunnison River (through the canyon) – The flow in the Gunnison Gorge has been around 472 cfs. Caddis are still coming off and the word from fishing guides is caddis, caddis, caddis of every size and color. Eight different caddis hatches are coming off now. Yellow Sallies are hot, and big stoneflies are upstream as far as Ute Park. Fish are keying on the big stoneflies now. Fishing has been great from the Smith Fork downstream to Pleasure Park. The North Fork is still too high to wade safely. A commercial shuttle/return-boat service is available through the Pleasure Park.For the complete, statewide fishing report, visit http://wildlife.state.co.us/fishing/reports/seasonalreport/Get your fish photos printed. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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