Fishing is free for everyone in Colorado June 4-5
If you haven’t gone fishing in awhile, or if you want to give fishing a try, you can reel in some fun on June 4-5 when fishing is free in Colorado.The free-fishing weekend is an annual event sponsored by the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) and held in conjunction with National Fishing and Boating Week.”We’re going to have great water this year, so this will be a good time to get reacquainted with fishing,” says Robin Knox, sport fish manager for the DOW.Anyone can fish without a license during the two days at any public waterway in Colorado. And there are plenty of places to cast: Around the state there are 2,000 lakes, ponds and reservoirs in the state that hold a variety of trout, bass, walleye, catfish, and many other warm water species; and 10,000 miles of streams and rivers are rated as good-to-excellent for trout.Every year the DOW stocks more than 3 million catchable-sized trout; in addition, 14 million trout fingerlings are released in reservoirs, rivers and lakes. The DOW also releases 80 million warm-water fry and fingerling fish annually. Last year more than 700,000 fishing licenses were sold in the state. “Colorado has 35 different species of sport fish, so we support a variety of fishing opportunities,” Knox said.Even after the special weekend, fishing is a bargain in Colorado: kids 15 and under fish for free, an adult license is $20 and good every day of the year.As for good spots right now, lake trout and northern pike are providing “hot action” at Williams Fork Reservoir, says Dan Murphy at the Fishin’ Hole in Kremmling. Although the boat ramps there are still out of the water, the lake level is rising fast and ramps will soon be usable. In the meantime, there are plenty of good firm launching spots elsewhere along the shoreline.The reservoir is located southeast of Kremmling on County Road 3.Lake trout are very shallow right now, lying right on the bottom in 8-12 feet of water and easily within reach of shorecasters. Use whole suckers 5-7 inches long or tube jigs tipped with sucker meat. Pike are also in shallow water, about 10 feet deep, in the east boat ramp bay and the fingers. Like mackinaw, they are best caught on sucker meat but will take large spoons, topwater plugs or big red and white or yellow streamer flies. Murphy recommends trolling a J-13 Rapala in silver and black or rainbow colors.Smaller No. 5 Rapalas, gold-colored Super Vibrax spinners and night crawlers will also catch brown trout in the 3 to 5-pound range. These fish tend to hang around the inlet and north of the east boat ramp. And equally large trout can be caught in the Williams Fork River beneath the dam.Holger Jensen, our fishing report coordinator, welcomes field reports from individual anglers and pictures of fish caught. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 303-291-7304.For the complete, statewide fishing report, visit http://wildlife.state.co.us/dowfish/index.aspDenver MetroClear Creek (above Hwy. 119) – Creek is clear and eminently fishable above Idaho Springs, somewhat discolored below. Use small midge patterns or Beadhead Prince Nymphs, Pheasant Tails, Adams and Blue Wing Olives. Small silver spinners will also take fish.Clear Lake – Power Bait and Nitro Bait work best here. This lake harbors large numbers of smaller rainbow and brook trout.South Platte River (Waterton Canyon) – Dry fly fishermen are doing well far up the canyon with Blue Wing Olives, Adams and Pale Morning Duns. Two and even three-fly rigs also work with nymph droppers such as Copper Johns, Beadhead Pheasant Tails and San Juan Worms.Northwest Blue River (below Green Mountain Reservoir) – Flows below Green Mountain Reservoir are low and clear. Afternoon thunder showers can discolor the water temporarily but fishing remains good all the way from the tailwater to the confluence with the Colorado River. Midges are still hatching in profusion with Blue Wing Olives on cloudy days. Use a No. 18 BWO, No. 20 Griffith’s Gnat, No. 20 Zebra Midge, No. 18 Copper John and red or wine-colored San Juan Worms when the water is discolored. The tailwater is subject to periodic security closures. There are three other public accesses on BLM land downriver to the confluence with the Colorado, but they are narrow and anglers are warned to stay off adjoining private property. For current conditions call the Fishin’ Hole in Kremmling at (970) 724-9407.Blue River (Dillon to Green Mtn. Res.) – Cool temperatures have delayed runoff. Fishing at the inlet to Green Mountain Reservoir has been great using egg patterns, San Juan worms and No. 16 beadheads. The stretch near the Blue River Campground has also been fishing well. The campground isn’t open yet but you can park near the entrance and it’s a short hike to the river. The tailwater in Silverthorne fishes consistently well with regular midge and Blue Wing Olive hatches.Colorado River (below Parshall) – Flow is rising, now 401 cfs at Kremmling, but the river remains relatively clear and continues to fish well. Midges, Blue Wing Olives and other mayflies continue to be the main hatches; still too cold for caddis. Successful anglers have been using RS-2s, WD-40s, Zebra Midges, and BWO patterns. Look for stonefly nymphs ahead of the big Salmonfly hatch starting in late May or early June, though this sometimes coincides with runoff. For current conditions call the Fishin’ Hole in Kremmling at (970) 724-9407.Colorado River (Glenwood to Rifle) – The river is discolored and flowing at 3,680 cfs in Glenwood Springs. Water visibility is limited to about a foot, which makes for slow fishing. However, Caddis are hatching in profusion from Silt up to New Castle. When the river clears, expect some epic dry fly fishing. Stimulators, Little Yellow Caddis and Peacock Caddis in sizes 14-18 should do the trick. Blue Wing Olives are also in abundance daily from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., especially on overcast days. For current conditions call the Taylor Creek Flyshop at 970-927-4374.Colorado River (near Granby) – The river is clear in the mornings, a bit discolored by afternoon. Trout fishing remains good using Buckskins, Copper Johns and egg patterns. San Juan worms also work when the water is off-color. In the immediate Granby area and downstream to the bridge at the west end of Byers Canyon, bait fishing is also permitted and two fish may be kept. The upper Colorado below Shadow Mountain Reservoir is almost always clear. The flow rate varies depending on the amount of water let out of the dam, which changes according to runoff. Lately, increased flows have made fishing the tailwater a good bet. Rapalas and Kastmasters work well downstream toward the lake. For current conditions call Budget Tackle in Granby at (970) 887-9344.Fryingpan River – Flows have increased from 85 to 110 cfs, raising the number of Mysis Shrimp flushed from Ruedi Reservoir into the river. Fishing has been dominated by both midges and great Blue Wing Olive hatches, thickest from 12:30-3 p.m. Before and after the hatch, try a BWO nymph with a midge dropper. If you are within the first mile of the tailwater, lead off with an Epoxy Mysis followed by either a midge BWO. On the lower river, small brown stonefly adults are hatching on warmer days. A No. 16 stimulator will match this critter nicely. When nymphing through the canyon water, a No. 16 Wired Golden Stone or Prince nymph serves as a good lead fly trailed by a baetis or midge pattern. For current conditions call the Taylor Creek Flyshop at 970-927-4374.Grand Lake – Brown trout have been running in and around the channel between Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain Reservoir, hitting on Rapalas and Kastmasters. Fishing for rainbow trout also is fair to good there with all the usual baits. Mackinaw are cagey but catchable for persistent fishermen trolling Kastmasters, jigging with tubes or bait fishing with shiners and suckers. For current conditions call Budget Tackle in Granby at (970) 887-9344.Green Mountain Reservoir – Shoreline is muddy and boat access is limited to smaller craft but fishing remains very good. Lake trout of up to 28 pounds have been caught by boaters trolling Flatfish in 20 feet of water, very slowly so they bounce along the bottom. Anglers say the best bite is around 6 p.m. at the north end of the lake. Rainbows and browns are being caught throughout the day by shorecasters tossing silver or hammered brass spoons and the usual assortment of bait. The Blue River and Elliott Creek inlets are particular hotspots. Lake level is 30 feet below full and water temperature is 38-40 degrees.Rifle Gap Reservoir – Water temperature is 57 degrees and lake level is 22 feet below full pool. Walleyes and perch are starting to bite and trout fishing remains excellent using Rapalas, small spinners, worms, salmon eggs and Power Bait. Shorecasters do well all around the reservoir but best on the east side. Boaters enjoy the best walleye fishing by trolling worm harnesses or Twister tails in the deep water along the face of the dam. Perch can be caught on small jigs tipped with a piece of night crawler. The bag and possession limit for smallmouth bass is two fish 15 inches or larger and smallmouth bass caught between May 1 and June 15 must be released. The bag and possession limit for walleyes is three fish, only one of which may be longer than 18 inches.Rio Blanco Lake – This lake harbors largemouth and smallmouth bass, pike, crappie, crappie, perch, bluegills and channel catfish. Pike fishing should be good this summer as northerns removed from the Yampa River will be planted here beginning at the end of May. Bass of up to 4 pound can be caught along the dike. For current conditions, call Wyatt’s Sporting Goods in Meeker at (970) 878-4428.Roaring Fork River – The upper Fork is fishing exceptionally well from the Aspen Business Center down to Jaffe Park. Sight-nymphing with BWO and Midge patterns is the hot ticket though small attractors such as Poxybiot Golden Stones, Wired Golden Stones, Princes and Red Copper Johns also catch fish. Morning action is slower downriver, but good in the afternoon, with BWOs dominating from Basalt to El Jebel and good caddis hatches from El Jebel to Carbondale. The lower Fork below Carbondale is running high, muddy and unfishable, with flows of 1,330 cfs at Glenwood Springs. For current conditions call the Taylor Creek Flyshop at 970-927-4374.White River – Discolored by runoff and not fishable at present with flows of 1,300 cfs at Buford and 1,140 cfs at Meeker. If flows diminish but water stays discolored, try streamers close to the banks. For current conditions, call Wyatt’s Sporting Goods in Meeker at (970) 878-4428.Williams Fork Reservoir – Lake level is rising and boaters launching from shore have been doing fairly well in the fingers on pike and in deeper water on lake trout. Lakers are being caught on sucker meat and trolled Rapalas at 40-foot depths. Rainbow and browns are active around the inlet. For current conditions call the Fishin’ Hole in Kremmling at (970) 724-9407.Williams Fork River – Releases from Williams Fork Reservoir are minimal and flows are low and clear. Main hatches remain Blue Wing Olives and midges. Use BWOs, Blue Duns, Zebra Midges, Serendipity nymphs and egg patterns. Look for caddis to start hatching soon. For current conditions call the Fishin’ Hole in Kremmling at (970) 724-9407.Yampa River (Stagecoach through Steamboat) – Discolored by runoff and flowing at 1,030 cfs in downtown Steamboat Springs; not really fishable at this time. The tailwater below Stagecoach Reservoir always fishes well and action there remains excellent with regular midge hatches and Blue Wing Olives on overcast days. Several river sections are restricted to flies and lures only and/or catch-and-release.SoutheastArkansas River No. 3 (Through Pueblo) – Fishing should be good to excellent here for recently stocked trout. Between 30,000 and 40,000 catchable-sized rainbow trout are stocked here annually along with some larger brood fish of 3-5 pounds. Also, major habitat improvements in this section of river have created deeper pools and structure for the fish to thrive in, making it an outstanding trout fishery.Arkansas River (Buena Vista to Salida) – The river is clear, running at about 250 cfs and the caddis hatch is going strong from Browns Canyon through Buena Vista. Blue Wing Olive mayflies continue to hatch on overcast days. River guides recommend fishing a caddis dry followed by a small Parachute Adams or other BWO pattern to cover both hatches. Link below for current conditions.Arkansas River (Leadville to Buena Vista) – Flows are stable and clear, about 200 cfs at Granite. Blue Wing Olives continue to hatch but caddis are the main attraction with active bugs from Buena Vista to Granite. Link below for current conditions.Arkansas River (Salida to Canon City) – The river is clear and low, 250 cfs in the Salida area. The caddis hatch is over below Salida but Blue Wing Olives continue to hatch and stonefly nymphs are starting to get active. They are not yet a primary food source above Salida but below Cotopaxi worth a try. A float from Salida to Vallie Bridge found No. 14 Epoxyback Golden Stones to be the hottest ticket. Link below for current conditionsClear Creek Reservoir – The water is warming up and fishing for recently stocked trout is good using salmon eggs, night crawlers or Power Bait.Elevenmile Reservoir – The reservoir is open for boating, but not all hazards are marked and boaters are urged to use caution. The lake is full and all boat ramps are usable. Water temperature is in the mid-40s. Shorecasters do best at Witcher’s Cove, Howbert Point, North Shore, Rocking Chair and Roger’s Mountain. Night crawlers floated with a marshmallow or Power Bait (orange, chartreuse or green)are particularly effective on rainbows. Panther Martins and olive Woolly buggers also catch fish. Fishing for kokanee and pike remains slow. There is no limit on pike and anglers are encouraged to catch all they can to help the trout fisherySouth Platte River (btwn Spinney and Elevenmile) – Fishing remains good with rainbows and cutthroats feeding aggressively on midges and Blue Wing Olives. Trout are hitting on No. 20-22 BWOs, Griffith’s Gnats, Barr’s Wet Emergers and Flashback Pheasant Tails; No. 18 Apricot Egg patterns and No. 20 Red Midge Larva. Late-morning until just past noon is the best fishing time. The South Platte is running at about 40 cfs above Elevenmile ReservoirSouthwest Gunnison River (below Crystal Dam) – The East Portal of the Gunnison continues to fish well with a flow of 1,300 cfs. The Bureau of Reclamation has forecast flows of 1,100-1,500 cfs this spring and summer. Water is clear above Cimarron Creek, discolored below. Effective flies include No. 16 Adams dries, baetis imitations, Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns, WD-40s, Midges, Scuds, San Juan Worms, Woolly Buggers and eggs. Call the Cimarron Creek fly shop at 970-249-0408 for the latest conditions.Gunnison River (through the canyon) – Flow is 1,300 cfs and clear all the way to Chukar Trail. There is some dry fly action on Caddis and emergers, and Stonefly nymphs are moving on the bottom. Use emergers, BWOs, Baetis, Woolly Buggers, Beadheads and No. 14-16 Adams dries. Downstream from the confluence with the North Fork, the river is blown out by runoff. No motorized craft are allowed above the confluence with the North Fork. Other restrictions: Gold Medal Water, catch-and-release, flies and lures only. No rainbows may be kept and the bag limit on brown trout is one over 16 inches and three under 12 inches. The Gunnison River Pleasure Park is offering ferry service to help fishermen access the upper Gunnison. Call 970-872-2525 for current conditions.
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