FISHING REPORT: Kokanee salmon starting to spawn
Kokanee salmon have begun their annual spawning run from Blue Mesa Reservoir up the Gunnison River. Hopefully they will make a left turn at the East River and swim right into the raceways of the Roaring Judy Hatchery, where their eggs will be collected to produce millions more of this tasty landlocked cousin of the Pacific sockeye.The East River is low this year; flows in the past two weeks have been under 100 cfs compared to an average of 250cfs. But is not as low as it was in the drought of 2002 when there was so little water the kokanee couldn’t complete their run without human help. Volunteers and DOW staff had to net 20,000 salmon and truck them to the hatchery. To protect the 4-year-old spawners, all fishing is prohibited from the hatchery outlet downstream to the boundary of the state fish-rearing unit. Anglers can fish other sections of the East and Gunnison Rivers but cannot keep any kokanee until Oct. 31. Most of the salmon die after spawning and snagging leftover fish is permitted in the Gunnison from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31.Terry Robinson, manager of the Roaring Judy Hatchery, said the run has only barely begun. Many salmon are still schooled up in Blue Mesa, and those that have started moving upriver do not move every day. Roe collection at the hatchery usually begins in the first week of October, the eggs hatch in December-January and the fingerlings are stocked in April.Although it is not the only hatchery that collects salmon eggs, Roaring Judy rears most of the kokanee in the state. It keeps four million eggs for itself and distributes the rest to other hatcheries. In good years it even has a surplus to sell to other states. But not all the salmon home perfectly on their birth river. Some make a wrong turn up the Taylor River. Others turn up the East River but bypass the hatchery completely and keep going upriver to Crested Butte.”Then,” says Robinson, “we have to go looking for them in other drainages.”Cold Water Hot SpotsAlthough the Fryingpan River is only 14 miles long from Reudi Reservoir to where it joins the Roaring Fork at Basalt, it is world famous for monster rainbows fattened on mysis shrimp. Trout of 10 pounds are not uncommon and some run up to 18 pounds. Besides shrimp and ever-present midges beneath the dam, there are awesome hatches of Green Drakes and Pale Morning Duns at this time of year, with a Rusty Spinner fall at dusk, making it dry fly heaven.Flows out of the dam have almost doubled this week to 215 cfs, flushing more shrimp into the river for the fish to feast on. Whenever that happens, said Will Sands at the Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt, “we see bigger fish caught.” And higher flows make it easier to catch them. As Sands explained it, “Faster water gives the fish less time to scrutinize an angler’s fly.” In other words, even if your presentation is less than perfect, you stand a better chance of catching one of these monsters. The Drakes and PMDs start hatching at high noon. “You can set your clock by it,” said Sands, adding that the best dry fly action on the ‘Pan is from 1-4 p.m. The evening spinner fall is from 8 p.m. until dark.For the complete fishing report, visit http://wildlife.state.co.us/dowfish/index.aspDenver MetroClear Creek (above Hwy. 119) – The water has cleared after last week’s rains and fishing has improved. Flyfishers are doing well with dries or nymphs: Elk Hair Caddis, BWO, PMD, Brassy, Copper John or Mercury Midge. Small gold or silver spinners also work in the deeper pools and slower runs. Clear Lake – Fishing has been slow but should pick up since the lake was stocked last week. Pink Power Bait or Crave Bait works best but flyfishers have also had some success with Blue Duns. South Platte River (Waterton Canyon) – The upper section has the best trout fishing. Flyfishers do well with ants, Comparaduns, Blue Duns. Brassies, Pheasant Tails or RS2s. The most effective spinners are small Panther Martins, Mepps or Blue Fox. Most fish caught here are small but a few top 20 inches. NorthwestBlue River (below Green Mountain Reservoir) – Flowing high, fast and fishing well in the tailwater beneath Green Mountain Reservoir and at the confluence with the Colorado River. Hoppers, ants, beetles provide most of the action, with some Caddis in the daytime and Tricos in the evening. Use No. 10-12 Joe’s Hopper or Dave’s Hopper, Chernolbyl Ants, Black Ants, Adams and Mosquito patterns. During the spinner fall switch to No. 18-20 Tricos. Hopper-dropper rigs are also effective. The tailwater beneath the dam is subject to periodic security closures and is currently only open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 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. Blue River (Dillon to Green Mtn. Res.) – The flow out of Dillon Reservoir is 75 cfs. Fishing has been good in Silverthorne with the standard Mysis Shrimp and Midge patterns. Use Randy’s Mysis, Candy Canes, pink Disco Midges and try the bigger attractors. Stimulators, adult Green Drakes, Lime Trudes and small hoppers have been successful when nothing else seems to work. And weighted streamers slow-drifted through the deep pockets also produce. From Silverthorne to Green Mountain Reservoir the action has been sporadic with no major hatches. Try No. 10 dry attractors with a beadhead dropper. Colorado River (below Parshall) – Flow is 1,020 cfs near Kremmling. High flows and cool water makes for very good fishing. Main hatches are Caddis and Callibaetis, with plenty of hopper action and a good evening spinner fall. Use No. 16 Tan or Yellow Caddis, RS2s, gray or black WD-40s, Prince Nymphs, No. 10-12 Joe’s Hoppers, Trico Spinners, No. 18-20 CDC Emergers, No. 16-18 Callibaetis Spinners and Pheasant Tails. Colorado River (Glenwood to Rifle) – Flow is 1,870 cfs in Glenwood Springs. Fishing has been very good with streamers early and late in the day and nymphing the riffles midday when water temperatures are at their highest. Terrestrials or hopper/dropper rigs work great when nothing is hatching. Hot flies include Autumn Splendors, Slumpbuster, Zuddlers, BH Princes, Pheasant Tails, Rusty Spinners and Tricos. Colorado River (near Granby) – Water temperature remains uncomfortably high for trout. Try not to stress trout until things cool down. Early morning is generally the best. The Colorado has been enjoying a profusion of overlapping hatches by Drakes, PMDs, Caddis, Yellow Sallies and hoppers. Recommended flies include Black Ants, various green/olive patterns, Woolly Buggers, Irresistibles and terrestrials. In the immediate Granby area and downstream to the bridge at the west end of Byers Canyon, bait fishing is also permitted and two fish may be kept. Elkhead Reservoir – Fishing is good for pike, crappie, smallmouth and largemouth bass. The smallmouth bass population has been augmented by 1,300 fish removed from the Yampa River to safeguard native and endangered fish species, and trout were stocked last week. Bass are hitting on Mepps Watermelon lures, tubes, Marabou jigs and jigheads with Twister tails. Crappie here run big, up to 14 inches, and are being caught on one-inch tubes and red and white jigs. Pike are hitting on Rapalas or large spoons, mostly around the inlet where they are feeding on crappie. Some nice catfish of up to 12 pounds have also been caught at the inlet and by the dam. The limit for smallmouth and largemouth bass is two fish at least 15 inches long. Fryingpan River – Flow out of Ruedi Reservoir has been increased to 215 cfs. This has flushed more Mysis shrimp into the river and fish are on them, along with prolific hatches of Green Drakes, Pale Morning Duns and a Rusty Spinner fall at dusk. Grand Lake – Rainbow and brown trout are biting well in 5-15 feet of water on yellow Tasmanian Devils, Panther Martins, salmon eggs, worms or Power Bait. Lake trout are hanging in 30-40 feet of water and difficult to catch. The bag and possession limit for lake trout is 4 fish, only one of which can be over 36 inches. Green Mountain Reservoir – Fishing is slow to fair. The best times are early morning and evenings right before dark. Shorecasters are having some success with nightcrawlers and rainbow Power Bait. Trolled Wedding Rings are catching a few kokanee. Rifle Gap Reservoir – Lake level is 68 feet below capacity and the boat ramp can only be used by shallow-draft boats. The water temperature is 68 degrees but fishing for trout and perch remains excellent. The best trout areas are along the west end and by the Cedar campground and off the island. Worms, Power Bait, salmon eggs and Kastmasters all catch fish. Perch are biting well on popcorn shrimp and worms. A two-hook rig fished just off the bottom is most effective. Rio Blanco Lake – Pike fishing is slow but crappie, bluegill and catfish are all active feeders at dawn, dusk and overnight. Cut bait and stinkbaits work best for catfish while crappie and bluegill are hitting on white and chartreuse crappie jigs. Some bluegills here are bigger than the crappie. Roaring Fork River – The Roaring Fork is low and clear and fishing exceptionally well. Current flows in Basalt are 327 cfs, and 597 cfs in Glenwood Springs. Blue Wing Olives and Caddis provide most of the surface action. Nymphing the faster seams with Princes, Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns and small Baetis is super productive. Hoppers are starting to make their presence known, with smaller Charlie Boy Hoppers in Tans being favored by fish. White River – Flow is 285 cfs near Buford and 192 cfs at Meeker. Fishing remains excellent with regular Caddis hatches, good hopper action and an evening spinner fall. Guides say Caddis are coming off very late in the evening, even after dark, which makes for great early morning fishing when there are still leftover bugs on the water. Hopper/dropper rigs have been most effective with a No. 10-12 hopper in front trailed by a Copper John. But anglers also score with black ant or beetle patterns, No. 14-16 Caddis, Parachute Adams, Tricos and just about any beadhead. Williams Fork Reservoir – Pike fishing continues to be very good, but anglers must remember to return all northerns within the 26 to 34-inch slot limit. Big Rapalas, frozen shiners and red and white Dardevles work best for pike. Trout fishing is slow but kokanee are becoming more active as they prepare for their annual spawning run up the Williams Fork River. The salmon are 22-28 feet deep, hitting on red Arnies, Tasmanian Devils, Needlefish and Wedding Rings. Lake trout are deep and none have been caught lately. Williams Fork River – Water remains cool because of increased flows from the Williams Fork dam. Callibaetis, Caddis and hoppers provide most of the action here with a good evening spinner fall. Trico spinners and mosquitoes work well early morning and evening. Bring plenty of bug spray. To protect spawning kokanee salmon, a section of river above Williams Fork Reservoir from the inlet upstream to the first country road bridge will be closed to all fishing and snagging Sept. 15-Oct. 31. Yampa River (Stagecoach through Steamboat) – Fishing is good in the tailwater below Stagecoach Reservoir with midges, Caddis and Tricos. Flow in downtown Steamboat Springs has slowed to 46 cfs. Caddis and Tricos are hatching daily and hoppers are working on hot days. Fish early and be off the water by noon so as not to stress fish as temperatures rise. Use No. 20 Sulphur Duns, Dark or Peacock Caddis, No. 20 Parachute Tricos, Trico emergers, Parachute Hopper, Timmy’s Hoppindicator, Green Caddis pupa or Chartreuse Copper John. Several river sections are restricted to flies and lures only and/or catch-and-release. Call the Steamboat Fishing Company at 970-879-6552 for the latest conditions. SoutheastArkansas River No. 3 (Through Pueblo) – Fishing is fair for trout with flies and bait. Arkansas River (Buena Vista to Salida) – The river is still good for floating and should have excellent wading level this week at about 350 cfs. Attractor dries with small Peacock Caddis or Parachute Adams as trailers have been most productive. Arkansas River (Leadville to Buena Vista) – Flow is 70 cfs in Hayden Meadows and the Granite Gorge will drop to 150-200 cfs as flow augmentation ends this week. Dry/dropper rigs work well during the day and there are good Caddis hatches in the evening. Arkansas River (Salida to Canon City) – Flows will drop this week to 300-400 cfs as the flow augmentation program winds up. This opens up much more habitat for fish and makes wading much easier. For the next 6 weeks, browns will be staging for the spawn, feeding aggressively, and becoming increasingly congregated. Beckwith Reservoir – Fishing is slow to fair for all species. Clear Creek Reservoir – Power Bait or salmon eggs work best along the north shore. Trollers are catching some nice trout along the dam using Arnies and nightcrawlers. Elevenmile Reservoir – Trout fishing is good on both the west and south sides of the reservoir. Shorecasters do best at Lazy Boy, Stoll Mountain, Rocking Chair, Witchers Cove or Howbert Point using any color Power Bait, worms or salmon eggs. Trollers are scoring with Rapalas, Tasmanian Devils, Kastmasters and Arnies tipped with nightcrawlers. Most kokanee are found in the middle of the lake between Duck and Goose Islands. Pike fishing remains fair in weedy coves using sucker meat, black Bunny Leeches or black and silver Rapalas. South Platte River (btwn Spinney and Elevenmile) – Flow is 151 cfs and trout fishing remains excellent using RS2s, WD-40s, Brassies, No. 16 Red Copper Johns, Black Beauties, Griffith’s Gnats, Trico Duns, No. 16 Light Tan Hare’s Ears, No. 14 Tube Callibaetis, Pheasant Tails and red, green or black Midges. SouthwestGunnison River (below Crystal Dam) – Flow is 625 cfs and the Portal is fishing well with PMDs, Caddis, hoppers and midge larvae, pupae, emergers or adults. When nothing is hatching, stick with midges and nymphs including Beadhead Princes, Copper Johns, Pheasant Tails, Halfbacks, Scuds and San Juan worm. If all else fails use Woolly Buggers or Muddler Minnows. Call the Cimarron Creek Fly Shop at 970-249-0408 for updated conditions. Gunnison River (through the canyon) – Flow through the canyon is 629 cfs and fishing is excellent through the Gorge. Fish close to the banks with midges, PMDs and Blue Wing Olives. Hopper/droppers are hot right now and No. 8 Woolly Buggers in black or Flash-a-Bugger colors also work well. Also try a Royal Trude or San Juan Worm with a Prince Nymph dropper. The upper Gunnison is nice and clear. Increased flows have raised the water level to where jet boats are operable, though no motorized craft are allowed above the confluence of the North Fork and Gunnison Rivers. 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.
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