Advisory for southwest anglers: Rio Grande conditions changed |

Advisory for southwest anglers: Rio Grande conditions changed

Special to the Daily News

Regan Lake, a picturesque, natural body of water covering 90 acres at an elevation of 10,040 feet, suffered a complete winterkill and will have to be restocked this summer. The lake, situated on four-wheel-drive FR 521 in the headwaters of House Creek, contained brook and cutthroat trout but a recent gillnet survey showed no surviving sportfish.

Continental Reservoir, covering 50 acres at an elevation of 10,262 feet, will be drawn down this summer and drained by fall to repair the outlet structure. The lake is situated above the Silver Thread Campground on FR 513. It contains Snake River cutthroats, splake and brook trout. Fishing for them is still good at this time but will decline as the water level recedes. Expect poor fishing by late summer.

For the complete, statewide fishing report, visit


COLD-WATER ” Lake John, a shallow North Park impoundment that suffers periodic fish kills in severe winters, makes up for it by growing big fish very fast. That’s because the 556-acre lake sits in an old alkali sink high in nutrients. Trout can grow 8 inches in one summer of feasting on zooplankton, aquatic invertebrates and crayfish, and add another two inches in winter.

Hence, the DOW sees no need to stock anything bigger than 5-inch “subcatchables” in spring, confident that they will reach 13-14 inches by October and 14-15 inches by the time the ice comes off the following year. The division stocks up to 400,000 rainbows and cutthroats annually in Lake John, and adds several thousand brood fish of 24 inches or more to assist in natural reproduction.

Those fish that survive several winters can reach phenomenal size. There has been no winterkill for two years now, and anglers are starting to pull in some really big fish. One group using crayfish imitation bass plugs caught rainbows weighing 3-8 pounds. Others have been scoring with Gitzits, Thomas Buoyants, Kastmasters and Little Cleos.

Giles Alkire of Alkire’s Sporting Goods in Greeley says the trench along the west shoreline off the chokecherry patch seems to harbor the biggest fish. He warns, however, that Lake John can be frustrating because it has so much natural food its overstuffed trout sometimes ignore anglers’ lures.

“All you can do is match what the fish are eating and hope for the best,” he says.

Right now it’s crayfish. All the trout that have been caught lately are stuffed to the gills with the tasty crustaceans, which dictates using brown or copper-colored lures. Later this summer, try trolling Dick Nites, Needlefish or Speedy Shiners behind a short string of flashers.

WARM-WATER ” Douglas Reservoir, a rather bleak and treeless impoundment west of Wellington, has not been featured as a hotspot before but may deserve that honor this week because it is yielding some nice wipers, often to surprised trout fishermen trying to catch stocked rainbows.

Mark Coleman fished the lake 3 times last week, catching a mix of wipers and stocked rainbow trout. He caught two 20-inch wipers on a Rat-L-Trap and another 15-incher while fly-fishing with a chartreuse and white Clouser Minnow. He also nailed five stocker trout trolling a small deep-diving Shadrap, another lure intended more for wipers and walleyes.

“Trout at Douglas bite well on trolled crankbaits,” he said, “as do small walleyes, though not many walleyes are being caught lately,” But Coleman did run into another fisherman who said he was after trout, but instead caught three wipers on a small brown Rapala. If you see surface-feeding wipers, use noisy top-water plugs such as Skitter Pops, Pop-Rs, Chug Bugs and Spit-n-King.

Douglas Reservoir, located off Larimer County Road 60 and La Vina Drive, covers 565 acres. It is stocked with wipers, walleyes, smallmouth bass, channel catfish and rainbow trout. The water level is good and the boat ramp is usable, but boating is restricted to wakeless speeds.

So far, there haven’t been many big wipers caught in Colorado this year. Cherry Creek Reservoir has produced a few in the 8-10 pound range, mostly at night, but Pueblo Reservoir, which holds the state record for kept fish, and North Sterling Reservoir, which holds the state catch-and-release record, have both been disappointing.

Lonetree Reservoir south of Loveland, Union Reservoir near Longmont, Jackson Reservoir north of Wiggins and Nee Noshe and Nee Gronda in the Queens State Wildlife Area north of Lamar are producing many smaller wipers in the 4 to 5-pound range but no monsters. So it’s nice to hear of another wiper fishery with some potential, even if it is not a “hotspot” in the true sense of the word.

ANGLER REPORTS WELCOMED — 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 or by phone at 303-291-7304. Anglers are also urged to post their favorite fish recipes on DOW’s Web site at

Denver Metro

Clear Creek (above Hwy. 119) — Though the creek is still running high and often dirtied by rain storms, fishing has been quite good in the upper reaches. From Idaho Springs on down, small to medium-sized brown trout have been hitting small night crawlers and silver spinners.

Clear Lake — Power Bait and Nitro Bait work best here. This lake harbors large numbers of smaller rainbow and brook trout.


Blue River (below Green Mountain Reservoir) — Flows below Green Mountain Reservoir are 780 cfs and very high. Fish Blue Wing Olive patterns in the morning, Caddis from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Suggested flies include #14-16 Elk Hair Caddis, #18 BWO, #20 Griffith’s Gnat, #20 Zebra Midge, #18 Copper John and red or wine-colored San Juan Worms. 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.) — Dillon Reservoir is full and spilling over the “glory hole,” raising the flow to 903 cfs. This will push the big mysis-fed fish from the no-fishing area below the dam downstream into the catch-and-release water.

Use San Juan Worms or #14-16 Mysis Shrimp, Green Drake Nymphs, Hare’s Ears, Copper Johns, Beadhead Pheasant Tails. The fast water will push the fish towards the banks or in the bottoms of the deeper pools. Be prepared to “huck” a lot of weight. Warm water off the reservoir surface should crank up the PMD and Green Drake hatches further downriver.

Colorado River (below Parshall) — Flow at Kremmling is 2,020 cfs, high and off-color. Fishing is tough at best. Use Caddis and Blue Wing Olives for dries; RS-2s, WD40s, Prince Nymphs and Copper Johns subsurface. For current conditions call the Fishin’ Hole in Kremmling at (970) 724-9407.

Colorado River (Glenwood to Rifle) — The Colorado is still high, discolored and unfishable with a current flow of 10,100 cfs. When runoff finally drops, look for Green Drakes, Caddis and Stoneflies to be the main hatches. For current conditions call the Taylor Creek Flyshop at 970-927-4374.

Colorado River (near Granby) — Fishing is extremely good as increased flows in the upper river below Shadow Mountain Reservoir are attracting many fish to the fast-moving, food-laden water. Anglers have been scoring with Rapalas, Kastmasters, weighted Woolly Buggers, and Stoneflies fished in the eddies. Flow below Windy Gap has started to drop, now 761 cfs. 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.

For current conditions call Budget Tackle in Granby at (970) 887-9344.

Fryingpan River — Ruedi Reservoir is full and outflow now matches inflow. This has raised flows in the upper ‘Pan to 418 cfs, higher than ideal, but it does flush a lot of mysis shrimp out of the dam. Many big fish are staging in the Toilet Bowl, Flats and Bend Pool. Some have even been seen as far downriver as Baetis Bridge. Tim’s Mysis and Sands’ Epoxy Mysis in sizes #16-18 are fishing well. Baetis and PMDs are still the main hatches on the rest of the river. During overcast weather expect Blue Wing Olives to hatch 1-4 p.m. Bright sunny weather will shorten this to noon-2 p.m. PMDs will hatch on sunnier days 2-5 p.m. In quiet back eddies late evenings, fish will be rising to Rusty Spinners.

For current conditions call the Taylor Creek Flyshop at 970-927-4374.

Grand Lake — Trolling Kastmasters or jigging tubes with shiners and suckers is most productive for lake trout. Early birds do best fishing the drop-offs before sunrise. A slot limit applies until June 30; all lake trout between 26 and 36 inches must be returned to the water immediately. Brown trout frequent the mouth of the channel on the north side and the eastern ledge structure.

For current conditions call Budget Tackle in Granby at (970) 887-9344.

Green Mountain Reservoir — The lake is full and fishing is good, best early mornings and evenings. Lake trout are 50 feet down and deeper, being caught on trolled Rapalas, tube jigs or sucker meat.

Some kokanee salmon are being landed on trolled Arnies, Needlefish and Kokanee Killers. Hot pink, red and green are the preferred colors. Shorecasters do best on rainbows with night crawlers and pink Power Bait.

Rifle Gap Reservoir — Water temperature is 66 degrees and lake is 18 feet below full pool. Several walleyes of 6-10 pounds have been caught in recent weeks, mostly on worm harnesses or crankbaits fished near the dam. Trout fishing remains excellent with a variety of methods. Boaters catch them by trolling sinking Rapalas and spinners; shorecasters on worms, salmon eggs and Power Bait. The bag and possession limit for walleyes is three fish, only one longer than 18 inches.

Rio Blanco Lake — Bass and crappie continue to provide most of the action here. Largemouths are hitting on light-colored plastic worms; tan and yellow work best. Many bass have been below the 15-inch size limit but some run up to 4 pounds. Crappie are being caught on small jigs or minnows. Pike fishing has been slow but should improve this summer as northerns removed from the Yampa River are being planted here.

For current conditions, call Wyatt’s Sporting Goods in Meeker at (970) 878-4428.

White River — The river is still high and off-color but lure casters using Panther Martins have been catching some big brown trout of 26 to 30 inches. Flows are 2,450 cfs at Buford and 2,240 cfs at Meeker. When the river drops and clears, flycasters should look for Blue Wing Olive and Caddis hatches. The hot fly to use until July 4 is a #14 Elkhair Caddis in olive or brown. After that, switch to terrestrials for the “Big Ugly” season.

For current conditions, call Wyatt’s Sporting Goods in Meeker at (970) 878-4428.

Williams Fork Reservoir — The lake is full and spilling over. Pike fishing has slowed during their spawn but lake trout are hitting well on sucker meat at 20 to 30-foot depths. Best fishing spots are the inlet and off the rocks toward the dam. Trolling a J-13 Rapala in rainbow or silver and black colors is most effective. Smaller Rapalas and Super Vibrax spinners 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.

For current conditions call the Fishin’ Hole in Kremmling at (970) 724-9407.

Williams Fork River — Flowing at 219 cfs below the reservoir with continuing hatches of Blue Wing Olives, midges and small olive Caddis. Use #18 Elkhair Caddis, BWOs, Blue Duns, Zebra Midges, Serendipity nymphs and egg patterns. For current conditions call the Fishin’ Hole in Kremmling at (970) 724-9407.

Yampa River (Stagecoach through Steamboat) — Flow is 1,240 cfs in downtown Steamboat Springs, still high but clearing. Let it drop a little more and look for hatches of Pale Morning Duns. Use PMD Sparkleduns or Parachutes, best fished with an RS-2 or Pablo’s Cripple dropper. The tailwater below Stagecoach Reservoir clears early but colder water there delays the PMD hatch. Several river sections are restricted to flies and lures only and/or catch-and-release.


Arkansas River #3 (Through Pueblo) — Frequent stocking of this stretch of river (again last week) makes for excellent fishing.

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 have created deeper pools and structure for the fish to thrive in even when releases from Pueblo Dam are minimal.

Arkansas River (Buena Vista to Salida) — Golden Stoneflies, Yellow Sallies, Caddis and Pale Morning Duns are all hatching on this reach. Both nymphs and dries are taking fish and though the hatches, which largely occur during the night, are not prolific, they do represent the main course for hungry Arkansas River browns. Flows are about 1,500 cfs, clear, and dropping quickly. Call ArkAnglers at 719-539-4223 for current conditions.

Arkansas River (Leadville to Buena Vista) — Flows are 500 cfs at Hayden Meadows and 878 cfs at Granite. The river is clear and dropping daily, given a few spikes for rain showers. Caddis hatches are prolific and stoneflies are active. Call ArkAnglers at 719-539-4223 for current conditions.

Arkansas River (Salida to Canon City) — Flow is 1,600 cfs at Wellsville, clear and dropping daily. Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies, Caddis and Pale Morning Duns are all active. Hoppers are also a great option and hopper/dropper rigs are most effective. Call ArkAnglers at 719-539-4223 for current conditions.

Clear Creek Reservoir — Fishing has been very good for recently stocked trout using rainbow Power Bait and salmon eggs on the bottom. Flycasters do well tossing Montera Marvels along the dam and the south shore. Boaters have also been successful trolling spoons and spinners along the dam and south shore.

Elevenmile Reservoir — Trolling for trout is excellent at all depths using Needlefish, Tasmanian Devils, Kastmasters, Arnies and Super Dupers. Downriggers and lead-core line work best, especially low-visibility green monofilament. West end of the lake fishes better than the east. Fish are hitting at all hours with some of the bigger fish showing up in late afternoon. Shorecasters do best with bait — nightcrawlers and lemon twist, orange, chartreuse or green Power Bait. Salmon fishing is spotty and usually in late-morning.

Duck Island towards the south shoreline has the largest concentration of kokanee. Try Dodgers, Rainbow Pop Geer with crawlers or a single corn niblet, pink Tasmanian Devils or silver Super Dupers. Pike action is slow with only a few being caught in weedy, shallow coves.

South Platte River (btwn Spinney and Elevenmile) — Low flows out of Spinney Mountain Reservoir have slowed fishing on the Dream Stream but anglers are still doing reasonably well early to mid-morning and late evening. Fish are hanging in the deeper pools and runs, hitting on #22 Adams, callibaetis, midges and nymphs.

However, the dragonfly hatch is just beginning and when it does, switch to a big ugly.


Gunnison River (below Crystal Dam) — The Salmonfly (pteronarcys) hatch is still going strong in the Black Canyon National Park. Fish are feeding on the big stoneflies from the Chukar Trail upstream.

There’s also great fishing to be had with Yellow Sallies and Pale Morning Duns. For current conditions call the Cimarron Creek Flyshop at 970-249-0408.

Gunnison River (through the canyon) — Salmonflies (pteronarcys) are flying now and the big bugs are everywhere. The whole river is fishing extremely well with anglers having the best success on #6-8 stonefly patterns such as Yellow Stones and Sofa Pillows, along with #18 Caddis and #18-20 Yellow Sallies. Best rig also features a #18 chartreuse Copper John dropper. Flow is 638 cfs and water is clearing from Chukar Trail downstream. No motorized craft are allowed above 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 anglers access the upper river. Call 970-872-2525 for current conditions.

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