Conditions are best in the cool, hopping High Country
The Fourth of July is at hand, and fly fishermen in particular can hardly go wrong. Streams of the Roaring Fork Valley and the upper and lower portions of the Gunnison, including the East and Taylor rivers, are in prime condition. Potentially good fishing also can be found in southern portions of the state, including the Rio Grande, Conejos, Dolores and Animas drainages, which tend to be less crowded, and in northern Colorado along the Yampa and White rivers. Front Range anglers can find improving conditions along the Arkansas, St. Vrain, Poudre and the several sections of the South Platte system, along with the Big Thompson, both below Estes Park and in Rocky Mountain National Park. Green drakes, the largest of the mayflies, have been prevalent on many river sections, along with summer caddis, yellow and orange stoneflies and other varieties of mayfly, including pale morning duns and rusty spinners. Trico mayflies, another highlight of summer fishing, have appeared on portions of the South Platte, including the “Dram Stream” segment below Spinney Mountain Reservoir.Mountain creeks have been dropping and, along with beaver ponds in many basins, provide other opportunities for fishing. Alpine lakes are open, and with the High Country summer just beginning, they offer an escape from the summer heat in the lowlands.Still-water fishermen also can enjoy some very good action on mountain lakes and reservoirs. Many large lakes including Spinney Mountain and Elevenmile reservoirs in South Park and the “Sagebrush Lakes” of North Park feature excellent hatches of Callibaetis mayflies and damselflies, complete with aggressively feeding trout. Though trout and kokanee salmon may gradually be moving into deeper water on some lakes, they generally still are accessible to anglers. Early morning and late afternoon are becoming the likeliest times for good fishing on most lakes.Denver MetroClear Creek (above Hwy. 119) – The water level is 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 offers fair to good fishing for 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 come down significantly but still are a bit above optimal. On Tuesday morning the volume was 666 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 Blue River between Dillon and Green Mountain finally came down to a fishable level last weekend. On Sunday, the Blue was flowing at 458 cfs, a very wadeable and fishable level. Downstream of Silverthorne, heavy caddis hatches are coming off, with some reports of a few green drake adults coming off during the day. In town, midges have been hatching in the 22-26 size range. As the water drops and continues to warm up, expect to see more hatches. Unless you are seeing rising fish, concentrate on nymph rigs. Throw UV midges, WD 40s, RS-2s, and Mysis patterns in town, and downstream throw some bead- head Pheasant Tails size, 14-18, green drake nymphs, caddis pupae, Hares Ears, size 14-18, and a variety of colored Copper Johns, size 14-18. Colorado River (below Parshall) – The flow at Parshall, below the Williams Fork confluence, on Tuesday was 605 cfs, down from last week. Near Kremmling, below the Blue River confluence, the volume was 1,390 cfs. Look for caddis activity late in the day. Attractor dry flies and streamers also can be effective, as can Mepps and Panther Martin spinners. Colorado River (Glenwood to Rifle) – Fishing has resumed along the Colorado River below Glenwood Springs, where water clarity is ranging from 12-24 inches. Recent river flows have been about 5,030 cfs below Glenwood Springs. Good hatches of green drakes and caddis are being seen daily, along with sporadic hatches of PMDs, Yellow Sallies and rusty spinners. Look for the best dry fly fishing to take place in the evening hours. Nymphing has been very consistent using Princes, 20-Inchers, chartreuse and red Copper Johns, Sunken Spinners, and Pheasant Tails. Hot dry flies include: BDE Drakes, drake cripples, H&Ls, Wulffs, Stimulators, CDC Rusty Spinners and King Kongs. Colorado River (near Granby) – Flows on Tuesday were 305 cfs below Windy Gap, 605 cfs below the Williams Fork near Parshall and 1,390 cfs on the Colorado near Kremmling. Though conditions are improving, the river can be a little difficult to fish under these conditions. The fluctuating flows below Windy Gap make interesting fishing patterns. Some caddis have been reported. Last week and last weekend, the river had been fishing very well. San Juan worms and egg patterns are still highly productive. 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. Crystal River – Fishing along the Crystal River is improving daily as water levels continue to drop. Near Carbondale, the river has been flowing around 1,030 cfs. Fishing is best from Redstone up to Marble, where general attractor nymph and dry patterns are catching fish. Hot flies include: Stimi’s, Ethawing Caddis, Convertibles, Princes, Copper Johns, and Z-Wing Caddis. Sporadic green drake hatches are being seen along the lower river. Fryingpan River – The Frying Pan River has been fishing very well. Recent flows were at 320 cfs, but, as expected, the volume on Monday dropped to 213 cfs. Good hatches of BWOs are being seen along the upper river with sporadic hatches of PMDs and caddis along the lower river. Look for some good rusty spinnerfalls to take place in the evening hours before dusk. Hot flies include: Tim’s Mysis, Epoxy Mysis, Poxyback Baetis, RS-2s, Hunchback PMDs, 20-Inchers, CDC Comparadun BWOs, PMD Pink Sparkleduns and CDC Caddis.
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 and in the channel between the lakes remains good. Inquire in Granby for updates. Green Mountain Reservoir – Fishing is better in the early morning or evening hours; it slows during the heat of the day. Kokannee salmon are being caught down at about 30-40 feet by trolling. Rifle Gap Reservoir – The water level has dropped, but the fishing still is excellent. It will be hot this weekend so remember the sunscreen. Several catches of nice-sized perch near the island have been reported. They seem exceptionally large this year. Rifle Creek is a hot spot for fly fishermen looking for some nice-sized brown trout. Northern pike have been noted in the shallow weeds by the Bass Day Use area. Roaring Fork River – The Roaring Fork River is red hot. Very good hatches of green drakes are taking place nightly from Basalt downstream to Glenwood Springs. Caddis, PMDs and rusty spinners are out in good numbers during afternoons and early evenings, as well. Hot flies include: Royal Wulffs, BDE drakes, drake cripples, rusty spinners, Ethawing Caddis, Princes, 20-Inchers, red Copper Johns and Pheasant Tails. Williams Fork Reservoir – The water level has been steadily rising and the reservoir soon will be full. Fishing for rainbow trout has been fair to good. Anglers have been using Dardevle-type spoons, small crankbaits and an assortment of baits from shore. Northern pike should become active soon. The reservoir also has some large mackinaw. Williams Fork River – Tuesday’s flow below Williams Fork Reservoir had come down to a nearly perfect 215 cfs. Nymphs and san Juan worms drifted through the heads of runs and edges of the main currents still can be effective, and look for mixed hatches of midges, caddis and blue-wing-olive, pale morning dun and red quill mayflies, especially in late afternoon. Overcast days are best. Yampa River (Stagecoach through Steamboat) – The river is low and clear, and fishing has been good. Pale morning duns, caddis and Yellow Sally stoneflies all have been coming off. Fishing generally is best from 8:30 a.m. to noon, before the heat of the day. Most evenings see a good spinnerfall, however. 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 (Buena Vista to Salida) – On Sunday, flows were 756 cfs above Buena Vista and 1,070 in Browns Canyon, with excellent visibility. Golden stoneflies, Yellow Sallies, pale morning duns and a variety of caddis are generating a feast for hungry fish. Now that flows have stabilized, fish are feeding steadily every day. Fish a dry-dropper in the morning; a dry-dry in the afternoon. Arkansas River (Leadville to Buena Vista) – These are the glory days on the upper Arkansas. Flows Sunday were 259 cfs at Hayden Meadows and 572 cfs at Granite. Golden stoneflies, Yellow Sallies, caddis, pale morning duns and terrestrials all are active. Fish are feeding hard in the wake of high water – it’s time to hit it.
Arkansas River (Salida to Canon City) – Flows have dropped dramatically and clarity has improved on this section. Sunday’s flows were 996 cfs at Wellsville and 1,230 at Parkdale. Golden and Yellow Sally stoneflies are active, and a good pale-morning-dun hatch comes off every afternoon. A good number of caddis also are around. South Platte River (btwn Spinney and Elevenmile) – Flows are slowly dropping and temperatures are increasing. Average flows from the past week were around 238 cfs. Though conditions have been demanding, some good-sized trout still are being reported. Pheasant Tail nymphs, caddis and San Juan Worms have been effective in the higher water, along with the usual midges. Some Trico mayfly activity also has been noted. Many of the fishermen are catching trout in the 12- to 18-inch range. Fishermen may use only artificial flies and lures below Spinney, and catch-and-release rules apply. As usual, this area attracts large crowds. Spinney Mountain Reservoir – Fishing at Spinney is really good right now. Fishing at Spinney is by artificial flies and lures only, with a bag and possession limit of one trout at least 20 inches long. Chironomidae midges and Callibaetis mayflies have been evident on the water. The water is high and a little roily in the upper end. Both boat ramps are open. Fishing has been good throughout the day, with average trout catches in the 18- to 22-inch range. The most successful flies have been various nymphs, scud patterns and streamers. As usual, tube jigs also are productive. 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 472 cfs. The water is Gunnison Green again. Good caddis and PMD hatches are evident. Try yellow and melon-quill patterns in sizes 16-18. Some adult stones still are reported in the Portal. Tie on a big Stimulator as a strike indicator. Midges, especially a red midge, are doing well in the afternoon. A small dun body, dun wing, No. 20 is working well just before dark. Otherwise, try scuds in olive and orange, Copper Johns, PTs, Prince Nymphs, Poxyback Biot Stones, and caddis emergers and adults. Gunnison River (through the canyon) – The flow in the Gunnison Gorge is now 492 cfs. Caddis, Yellow Sallies, PMDs and flying ants are hot right now. San Juan Worms were also working well. Fishing has been hot the last couple days from the Smith Fork downstream to Pleasure Park. The North Fork now is low enough to wade. A commercial shuttle/return-boat service is still 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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