Colorado Division of Wildlife’s weekly fishing report
Spring has come to Colorado and with it a time when most anglers are eagerly awaiting the prime fishing times on their favorite waters.
For some, the time already has arrived. For others, it lies just ahead. For all, the early season fishing prospects are just about as predictable as the weather.
Many parts of the state received good, early season snowfall, followed by a relatively mild winter. Spring seemed to arrive unusually early, complete with an early ice-out at the popular South Park reservoirs, among others. Spinney Mountain Reservoir opened in March for only the second time in its history.
That promise of spring proved to be a false one, however. A series of new snowstorms brought a return to winter across much of Colorado. Lakes and reservoirs that had opened early remained that way, but the second wave of winter brought new snow and cold, and delayed the thaw on lakes that still had an ice cover.
Veteran observers of the state’s outdoor scene have described it as a typical spring, predictable only in its unpredictability.
For lake fishermen, that means the hot fishing times of ice-out are at hand. Though reservoirs such as Granby and Blue Mesa still have a significant ice cover, areas of open water are expanding. Though the weather may be raw, even the North Park lakes have patches of open water. Springtime ice can weaken quickly, and ice fishing no longer is recommended on reservoirs such as Wolford Mountain, which at last report still were iced-over.
Fishing at reservoirs such as Antero and Eleven Mile that opened early remains generally good, and new open-water opportunities are appearing almost daily.
At lower elevations, most lakes have been free of ice for several weeks. Many, including Front Range metro-area lakes and lakes on the eastern plains have been stocked with catchable-sized trout.
Stream fishermen also are enjoying some potentially good early season possibilities. Free-flowing rivers are in a pre-runoff mode. Though some discoloration from lower-elevation snowmelt can appear on warm days, the water generally is clear. Trout my rise to emerging midges, and warm, cloudy afternoon can produce hatches of blue-wing-olive mayflies.
Tailwaters ” the portions of rivers below a dam ” have been producing fairly good fishing through the winter and remain a good choice through the spring and early summer. Mountain creeks and beaver ponds remain in winter’s grip in much of the state, and as the snow receded, access can be problematic because of muddy roads.
Though the interval of mild late-winter weather reduced the snowpack in some parts of the state, almost all major basins have at least an average accumulation of snow going into the spring. That suggests adequate flows through the summer, and a normal, rather than prolonged, spring runoff. Reservoir levels, as a rule, also should be adequate through much of the summer.
Warm-water fishing generally has been slow, but with warming weather, walleyes, crappie, catfish and bass will become more active. Wipers are among the first, and already have moved toward the inlet of Pueblo Reservoir, where they can provide some excellent early season sport.
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