Fishing Report: Reservoir conditions ripe for trout, mackinaw and salmon |

Fishing Report: Reservoir conditions ripe for trout, mackinaw and salmon


Fishing across Colorado has settled into an early summer mode. Conditions generally are good or at least improving in much of the state.

Large mountain reservoirs such as the South Park and North Park lakes and Blue Mesa and Taylor reservoirs on the Western Slope remain good bets for trout fishermen. Fish still are in relatively shallow water, within casting distance of shoreline anglers, and active through much of the day.

Rainbow and brown trout are the top attraction in most of the lakes, but some also have lake trout, also known as mackinaw, and kokanee salmon.

Lake trout are the largest members of the trout/char family, and during much of the year they are found in deep water and difficult to catch without specialized deep-trolling equipment. In spring and early summer they may be in shallower areas, where they can be taken on conventional fishing tackle.

Likely waters for mackinaw this time of year include Taylor, Turquoise, Granby and Green Mountain reservoirs, as well as Twin Lakes, the Mount Elbert Forebay and Jefferson Lake.

Kokanee salmon are a favorite among boating fishermen and most often caught by trolling. In June, salmon still may be in fairly shallow water and can be taken without the need for lead-core line or downriggers. Elevenmile and Blue Mesa reservoirs are two of Colorado’s top kokanee fisheries.

Stream fishermen, meanwhile, are looking toward the end of the runoff. Most rivers already have dropped. Many already are fishably clear, and most should be in prime condition in another week to 10 days.

Warm-water fishing across much of the state is approaching its peak. Bass, wipers, walleyes and other fish have become increasingly active as water temperatures have warmed. With continued warm weather, however, good fishing increasingly is becoming and early morning and late-afternoon affair.

For the complete, statewide fishing report, visit

Clear 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.

Blue River (below Green Mountain Reservoir) ” Flows below Green Mountain Dam have dropped, and late Monday were 351 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 an unusually high 1,070 cfs. Wading is difficult, but many of the giant rainbows, cutthroats, and browns that generally reside in the no-fishing zone move downstream at the higher flows. 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 Monday were 1,026 cfs, up from last week. Near Kremmling, the volume was 1,490 cfs. Clarity is marginal. The annual stonefly hatch appears to have run its course through this stretch, but some caddis activity has been reported.

Colorado River (Glenwood to Rifle) ” The Colorado River has been flowing at 5,840 cfs below Glenwood Springs, where visibility into the water is ranging from 6 to 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 Nymphs, 20-Inchers and scuds.

Colorado River (near Granby) ” Flows on Sunday evening were 435 cfs below Windy Gap, 413 cfs on the Williams Fork near Parshall and 1,400 cfs on the Colorado 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. Cool weather conditions have extended the hatch. Some caddis also have been reported. 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 ” The Crystal River has been flowing at 857 cfs in Carbondale and at present is not fishable in its lower reaches. Above the town of Redstone, the river is fishing fair using Stimulators, Ethawing Caddis, Prince Nymphs, Copper Johns and Z-Wing Caddis. The Crystal is expected to become more fishable in the next two to four weeks.

Elkhead Reservoir ” The reservoir is open, after a two-year draw down for dam reconstruction. Access for fishing and day use will be allowed this summer, with camping and other activities coming on line as construction is completed. The lake recently was stocked with catchable-sized trout and smallmouth bass. Please use caution if boating; large amounts of debris exist.

Fryingpan River ” Fishing along the Frying Pan is rated as very good, especially with the increase in water flows that presently are at 260 cfs. Hatches of BWOs, PMDs, and caddis are taking place midday. Good numbers of Mysis shrimp are coming through the dam, and many large, 2- to 8-pound fish are being caught in the Toilet Bowl, Flats and Bend Pool, and the Handicap Access.

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 as been good. Inquire in Granby for updates.

Green Mountain Reservoir ” The lake is down only about six feet and coming up. Shore fishermen and boaters are still catching trout. Night crawlers, sucker meat, salmon eggs and Power Bait all are working. Kastmasters and Tasmanian Devils are the hot lures.

Rifle Gap Reservoir ” Recent cold weather slowed things down a little, but conditions again appear prime. The water level has dropped, but the fishing still is excellent. Several catches of nice-sized perch near the island have been reported. Rifle Creek is a hot spot for fly fishermen looking for some nice-sized brown trout. Northern pike have been reported in the shallow weeds by the Bass Day Use area. Remember, all smallmouth bass must immediately be returned to the water until June 15.

Rio Blanco Lake ” Fishing for mainly small crappie and bluegills has been fairly good. Yellow and chartreuse jigs have worked best. Some northern pike have been taken on yellow-and-red and yellow-and-black Dardevle-type spoons. An occasional pike has run 26-27 inches, but most have been smaller.

Roaring Fork River ” The Roaring Fork is clear and fishable along its entire length. Fishing is superb, especially from Basalt down to Glenwood Springs. Nymphing has been exceptionally good using stonefly and green drake patterns, with good dry fly fishing occurring late in the day on Stimulators, Convertibles, Ethawing Caddis and Pearl and Elk Caddis. Look for the green drake hatch to begin in the next week or two, at which point the fishing will be sensational.

White River ” The river has been dropping but still is somewhat high and discolored. Fishermen have reported some success on red San Juan Worms, streamer flies and black-and-yellow and yellow-and-red spinners. Where bait fishing is permitted, salmon eggs have worked well. Conditions should improve significantly in another week or so.

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 ” Flows below Williams Fork Dam on Monday were up to 494 cfs. Fishing is more difficult at this volume, but drifting weighted nymphs through the runs and pockets still can produce some decent brown trout.

Yampa River (Stagecoach through Steamboat) ” The river has been dropping but recent rains have discolored the water and raised the flow. Even so, it is fishable through Steamboat Springs. Stonefly nymphs and various streamer patterns have worked best, and the first green drakes of the season have been reported. 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.

Arkansas River No.3 (Through Pueblo) ” The flow was cut back to 886 cfs on Monday. As a rule, releases of water are highest during weekends. Fish generally are 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) ” Sunday’s flows in the Browns Canyon area were about 1,500 cfs, with very good visibility. Conditions are ripe now, with hungry trout competing for available food. Work the edges with a large attractor-dry/dropper rig or drift stonefly nymphs down deep.

Arkansas River (Leadville to Buena Vista) ” Flows at Granite on Sunday were 1,090 cfs and clarity was very good. Stoneflies are emerging on this section and caddis continue to hatch late in the day. Conditions are prime for fishing big attractor-dry/dropper combos or drifting large stonefly nymphs along the bottom.

Arkansas River (Salida to Canon City) ” Flows at Wellsville on Sunday were 1,690 cfs with 2-3 feet of visibility and a green tint to the water. Golden and Yellow Sally stoneflies are emerging at the edges and fish, compressed there by the swift current, are feeding aggressively on anything that comes within reach. Dredging the bottom along slower, deeper seam lines with stonefly nymph patterns will also produce fish.

Elevenmile Reservoir ” Overall trout-fishing success ranges from poor to fair. Worms, marshmallows, various Power Baits and assorted spinners seem to be working the best. Trout that have been caught recently are ranging from 18- to 20-plus inches. Kokanee fishing has been poor. 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 and water temperatures are increasing. The 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 and San Juan Worms have been effective in the higher water, along with the usual midges. Trico mayflies have not yet appeared. 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.

South Platte River, Elevenmile Canyon ” Flows were up to 192 cfs on Tuesday morning. With the higher volume, fish are beginning to disperse up and down the river. Caddis are beginning to hatch, but no dry fly activity has been reported. A Barr’s Graphic Caddis has been an effective pattern. A few blue-wing-olive mayflies still are coming off, but not enough to be of great interest to the fish. Trico mayflies have not yet been evident.

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. 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.

Turquoise Lake ” Early season fishing for lake trout has been good, but most have been rather small. Large crankbaits and spoon-type lures have been working well. Turquoise has an abundant population of lake trout, but many are small, less than 20 inches. Fishing for mackinaw usually is good from the south and east shores from ice-out through June, when they move into deeper water and deep-trolling gear is the key to catching them. The bag and possession limit is two lake trout. The lake also has rainbow trout and an occasional large brown. Stocking of catchable-sized trout will increase this summer. Two boat ramps are available.

Twin Lakes (Mt. Elbert) Forebay ” Fishing for lake trout and some decent-sized rainbows remains fair to good in the forebay just to the north of Twin Lakes. The forebay has the best population of lakers in the Arkansas River basin, and the early season is the best time to fish for them from the south shore. The average size is 17 inches and the largest exceed 40. The Forebay also has abundant rainbow trout and fishing is especially good early in the season. Recent stockers average 11 inches, but surviving fish are around 15. Hand-carried boats including float tubes are permitted. However, boaters should be aware of potential fluctuations and strong currents. The best boater access is at the southwest corner of the reservoir. Park along the edge of the road but do not block the locked gate.

Gunnison River (below Crystal Dam) ” Flows are at 476 cfs, the clarity is good and so is the fishing. Early mornings and late afternoons have been the most active. Lots of bugs are out. Stoneflies are in the Gorge and are likely to be up to the national park later in the week. Use big stones in all patterns. PMDs and caddis are hot after the stones take a break. Try Adams, Parachute Adams, PMDs, Elk Hair Caddis, Mellon Quill, Hare’s Ear, Rubberleg Hare’s Ear, Pulsating Caddis, Foam Caddis and Peacock Caddis patterns.

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 and PMDs also are hot. The stoneflies are upstream past Ute Park and are about gone. Fishing has been great 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.

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