Blown-out waters don’t blow away the fish |

Blown-out waters don’t blow away the fish

Bryce Evans
summit daily news

BRECKENRIDGE – Sure, if the Colorado River is running at 2,700 cfs at Pumphouse, it might not be ideal to toss a line in the water, let alone wade in from the shore.

But while some of the area’s streams have started to rise, the fishing is still solid.

“The main thing for people to remember is that if there’s fish in the river when the conditions are good, there are still fish in the river when the conditions are tough,” said Jackson Streit, owner of Mountain Anglers in Breckenridge. “You just have to change your tactics.”

That means, for the most part, bigger flies and heavier leaders.

Warmer weather is starting to break down the county’s record snowpack, and with the moderate heat wave – and literal water waves heading down stream – waters are flowing higher than normal at this time of year.

That leaves two choices for anglers: Fight for fish in heavy currents, or find some calmer water.

Streit suggested the southern sections of the Arkansas River if you’re looking to avoid heavy flows. He led a guide trip down there just a few days ago, and there was a strong mayfly hatch to go along with the seasonal caddis.

The Ark was flowing at about 350 cfs (it is expected to rise in the coming days), and Streit suggests using a blue quill, size 14 at midday in the area. In the afternoon, look to use more caddis patterns.

Rigging a dry-dropper combination worked well around the edges of the stream, Streit said.

Aside from the Ark, right now, anglers are looking to the South Platte for calm waters. The middle and south forks, Streit said, have been flowing calmly, down around 15 cfs near Hartsel. The “Dream Stream,” between Spinney and Eleven Mile reservoirs, was flowing at just 75 cfs, recently. Streit said to watch the flows in those areas, and once they reach about 50-60 cfs, the fishing should be really good. He also suggested checking out the reservoirs – Spinney, Eleven Mile and Antero.

The Williams Fork River, where it flows into the Colorado at Parshall, is low and clear, right now, Streit said. But the Colorado itself is running hard and pretty murky.

“The Colorado was pretty dirty, but it was fishable,” he said.

He suggested using “big bright stuff,” such as worms, eggs and large stone fly patterns.

The Blue River is flowing at around 450 cfs in Silverthorne. Streit said there is “more water in there” than he’s ever seen, but you can certainly still catch fish.

“All the big fish up by the dam get pushed down into the legal-to-fish water. Then it can be a rodeo trying to hook some of those big fish. Landing them is another story,” he said. “Fish heavier leaders and bigger flies. Those fish haven’t seen anyone trying to catch them, so you don’t have to go with small, small flies.”

Big worms and large mysis patterns should work, and Streit suggest a size 6 or 8 saltwater fly – the Crazy Charlie – which looks similar to a mysis.

Heading down toward Green Mountain Reservoir, the water gets even bigger. Again, Streit suggests the big stuff: large stone flies, worms and eggs.

He also said the inlet of the Snake River has seen a lot of fish recently.

“It’s funny, people think things are either good or they’re bad,” he said. “You can still catch fish everywhere, but a lot of people don’t like fishing when the flows are really high and the water’s quite dirty.”

They say the early bird always catches the worm. That’s all well and good, but, right now at least, the early angler’s going to be stuck holding a pretty light line the earlier he gets to the river.

“The big thing, when you’re getting this big cold-water snowmelt, is not to go out too early,” Streit said. “You can catch fish early, but the best fishing isn’t until 11 or noon.

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