In The Field: Memorial Day fishing report for Blue River and South Platte at Maria Ranch, Spinney Reservoir
August 16, 2016
Springtime means change for me. In the past two weeks, I've only skied twice, but I've played three rounds of golf at the Keystone River Course and fished eight days. When I was on the rivers, I looked for some of our early caddis and mayfly hatches. The following is what I have encountered on the local waters.
I've been up on the Colorado River looking for the stonefly hatch, my favorite. It's not yet ready but soon to come. I've also been looking for that blanket of caddis on the Arkansas, as well as our local green drakes and rusty duns on the Blue River. It has just been too cold. I'm out nearly every day, anyway.
Where can you go right now? Try side streams like Rock Creek and Boulder Creek, along with the middle and south forks of the Swan River in the eastern part of Summit County for small fish on dry flies.
Tenmile Creek above Frisco is high at 270 cfs (cubic feet per second) but is producing fish with No. 16 brown and tan caddis. It has been windy and cool the days I fished it, but I caught three to five fish per hour anyway.
The Upper C area
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The Colorado River at Kremmling below the Williams Fork is very high for this time of the spring, approximately 2,040 cfs and turbid (off-color) — not really fishable.
The lower section of Troublesome Creek is also off-color and poor fishing. The Williams Fork is running 120 cfs, with clear waters at 50 degrees — very good fishing compared to the rest.
Upper and Lower Blue
The Blue River below Dillon is running at 748 cfs. It's high, clear and cool at 46 degrees Fahrenheit. Surface activity is slow with some midge hatches, size No. 20. Nymphing is good right now, with pheasant tail and prince nymphs, sizes No. 16 to 18, in upper sections. Try stripping some wooly buggers further north below Green Mountain Dam.
The Blue above Dillon Reservoir to Breckenridge, known as the Upper Blue, is 146 cfs and 48 degrees Fahrenheit. You'll see good surface activity with attractor patterns, such as Royal Stimulator, size No. 14, as well as nymphing with typical patterns in sizes No. 16 to 18.
It has been too cold to see any numbers of caddis or mayfly on Muddy Creek below Wolford Reservoir in Grand County. Water is moderately high at 304 cfs and clear. Fishing can be good with nymphs and dries, but beware: fording the river with waders can be tricky. I just stay on one side — it is pretty open except for some willows. I had some success with streamers like muddler minnows, sizes No. 8 to 10. Spin fishing would work well here also using rooster tails and small mepps spinners.
The best fishing I've had in the last two weeks was on the Middle Fork of the South Platte below Santa Maria ranch, down south in the South Park area where temperatures have been warmer. The water is low and clear at 62 cfs. I was successful with small streamers, sizes No. 10 to 12, and Rio Grand kings, size No. 12. I turned eight to ten fish per hour. It's not a bad haul, but you have to keep moving because the fish are spooky.
The South Platte above Spinney Reservoir and below Elevenmile Reservoir is the best fishing within an hour's drive from Summit County. Flows are averaging 80 cfs, low and clear. This water is easily fished with nymphs in sizes No. 16 to 18. A word of advice: be prepared for wind and lots of other anglers. But, that's a small trade-off for 10 to 20 fish per hour.
The Arkansas below Leadville is at 170 cfs and clear. Not much happening on the surface right now, but its good nymphing, and there aren't many anglers, even on weekends. Like local waters, it is still cold over there at 10,000 feet, and no hatches of caddis or mayfly yet.
Above Salida the flows are 1,200 cfs — better kayaking and rafting than fishing.
See you on the river.
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