Fishing Report: Rivers beginning to show signs of massive runoff-to-come
Clear water is becoming a scarce commodity in Colorado rivers.The spring runoff has affected almost all free-flowing rivers on both sides of the Continental Divide, making fishing difficult to virtually impossible. Three notable exceptions are the Arkansas and Poudre rivers in eastern Colorado and the upper Roaring Fork on the Western Slope. The Arkansas early in the week was clear and flowing at fishable levels from Leadville downstream to Parkdale. The annual caddis hatch was under way, and was expected to reach the Browns Canyon area by midweek.The Poudre was very clear in its upper reaches but picking up some color downstream. Mayflies, caddis and stoneflies all have been taking some fish. The activity should remain good as long as the river is fishably clear. The Roaring Fork was fishable from Carbondale upstream to Aspen, but high and discolored downstream. Fly fishermen were reporting hatches of blue-wing-olive mayflies, midges and occasional caddis on the fishable portion of the Fork. Most tailwaters – sections of rivers directly below a dam – remain fishable. Possibilities include the several sections of the South Platte, the Taylor, Fryingpan, Blue and Big Thompson. As the runoff progresses, they will become just about the only stream-fishing game in town.Warm-water fishing, meanwhile, is gradually improving as water temperatures increase. Mid-May often is considered the beginning of truly good fishing in the state’s warm-water reservoirs. That trend is likely to continue this year.Take your family fishingFishing is a wonderful way to spend some time with the family, and the Colorado Division of Wildlife provides several ways to make it easier.The DOW celebrates National Fishing and Boating Week on June 3-4 with a free-fishing weekend, when no licenses is required to fish in Colorado. (Bag limits and all other regulations remain in effect.) Also, multiple kids’ fishing clinics will be conducted across the state during the first and second weekends in June.
Closures Three major Colorado reservoirs will remain closed in 2006: Antero, Cheesman and Elkhead.Elkhead Reservoir, in the Yampa River drainage of western Colorado, has been closed for dam construction. It is scheduled to reopen in 2007.For the complete fishing report, visit http://wildlife.state.co.us/Fishing/Reports/StatewideConditions/.Denver MetroClear Creek (above Hwy. 119) – Black Elk-hair Caddis in size 16-18 are a must. A size 16 bead-head Prince Nymph rigged as a dropper below the fly is the trick here. Fish right out of Golden. Call 303-421-4025 for details. Clear Lake – No current reports about the lake off Guanella Pass are available. The lake is stocked with catchable-sized rainbow trout and also has brook trout and a few browns. NorthwestBlue River (below Green Mountain Reservoir) – The flow below Green Mountain Reservoir has been cut back to 109. The river below the dam is clear and fishable but tributaries have discolored the lower portions. Fishing has been fair to good on egg patterns, San Juan worms and small emerger patterns for some large fish. Spin-casters are throwing No. 7 Rapalas. The tailwater is subject to periodic security closures. Three other public access points are available on BLM land downriver to the confluence with the Colorado River, 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.) – Nothing much has changed in the past week. The flow remains at 101 cfs, and cooler temperatures and snow on Friday kept the tailwater clear and relatively unpressured. No significant blue-wing- olive hatches have been reported yet, but they begin in the near future. Until then, it remains egg patterns, Mysis Shrimp, and midges in the tailwater section. Randy’s Mysis, Black Beauties, WD40s and Zebra Midges, in dark colors, sizes 22-26 are the effective patterns. From Blue River Campground to Green Mountain Reservoir, San Juan Worms, Copper Johns, small stoneflies, Tungsten Hare’s Ears and Cadillac Pheasant Tails have produced well. Colorado River (below Parshall) – The fishing above Kremmling still is fairly good with flows of 952 cfs, but the river is off-color because of the runoff. At Parshall, use small emerger and egg paterns, but be mindful of spawning rainbows and try not to stress the fish. Plenty of good-sized browns also are being caught. At Kremmling, on the public accesses, spin-fishermen are doing well throwing Rapalas and Blue Fox spinners. For current conditions, call the Fishin’ Hole in Kremmling at (970) 724-9407.
Colorado River (Glenwood to Rifle) – The Colorado River below Glenwood Springs is heavily discolored, flowing at more than 5,000 cfs and unfishable. Expect the river to remain that way until sometime in June. Call the Taylor Creek Flyshop in Basalt for current river conditions at 970-927-4374. Colorado River (near Granby) – Fishing below Parshall remains fairly good. Spring is finally here. Streams usually are fairly clear early in the morning, but on warm afternoons, rivers will have some color. Egg patterns, San Juan worms, small nymphs, black midges, Wooly Buggers and Copper Johns have been working well. The stream flow below Windy Gap last weekend was 467 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 – The Frying Pan is clear and flowing at 297 cfs below Ruedi Reservoir. Nymph fishing has been very good using Batis nymph and midge patterns such as Poxyback Baetis, BTS Baetis, Black Zebra Midges, RS-2s, Johnny Flashes and Jujubees. Dry-fly fishing has been decent using BWOs and midges such as Sparkleduns, BWO Quill Paras, Frying Pan Emergers, Bill’s Midge Emerger and Sprouts. Big fish are showing up in good numbers because of the good water levels. Expect fishing to improve this week with warm, overcast weather. Grand Lake – Early birds do best fishing the drop-offs before sunrise. The channel between Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Grand Lake has been fishing well. Some ice remains, but open water is expanding rapidly. For current conditions call Budget Tackle in Granby at (970) 887-9344. Green Mountain Reservoir – The lake is free of ice. Shoreline fishermen have been picking up a few rainbow trout on Kastmasters. Ice-out is an especially good time to fish for lake trout, and a 27- and a 25-pound mackinaw were taken during the past week by a fisherman trolling a copper Flatfish. For more information, call (970) 724-3677. Rifle Gap Reservoir – The lake is full. The water temperature is 57 degrees. The East Rifle Creek inlet is still somewhat cloudy from snowmelt, but many anglers have had good luck fishing for trout and northern pike. Try deep-running lures or streamer flies for pike. Trout have been hitting Panther Martin spinners and streamer flies. Perch fishing is picking up using a No. 8 hook tipped with a small piece of worm. The boat ramp and docks are in the water. The catch-all in this lake seems to be a perch-imitation type of lure. For walleyes, use a deep-running lure or jig. The regulation on walleyes at Rifle Gap now reads, “Bag, possession limit and minimum size for walleyes is 3, 18 inches long.” The 2006 fishing regulations, fishing information and State Parks Annual passes are available at the visitor center. Rio Blanco Lake – Fishermen are catching some crappie and bluegills on red, white and chartreuse crappie jigs. A few northern pike have been taken on crankbaits. For current conditions, call Wyatt’s Sporting Goods in Meeker at (970) 878-4428. Roaring Fork River – The Roaring Fork is clear and fishing well from Carbondale to Aspen. Current water flows are about 127 cfs in Aspen and 865 cfs in Basalt. Good hatches of midges, blue-wing-olive mayflies and caddis are occurring during the afternoons. Nymph fishing below Aspen has been exceptional using BWO and midge imitations, as well as smaller stonefly patterns. Below Carbondale, the river is too high and muddy to fish effectively. Call the Taylor Creek Flyshop in Basalt for daily river conditions at 970-927-4374. White River – The river has come up and is discolored. Fishing is difficult and few have been trying it. A few spin-fishermen reportedly have taken some decent-sized trout in the late afternoon. For current conditions, call Wyatt’s Sporting Goods in Meeker at (970) 878-4428. Williams Fork Reservoir – With the lake free of ice, fishing is heating up. Big pike are in the shallows and lake trout are being caught in deeper water. Fish the fingers for trout and pike in the flats. Try off the points for big lakers; up in the inlet for good trout. A 38-inch laker was caught on Saturday. For current conditions, call the Fishin’ Hole in Kremmling at (970) 724-9407. Williams Fork River – The flow is around 100 cfs and the fishing is excellent. A lot of rainbow trout are running up the Williams Fork, and plenty of browns are feeding on the eggs. Drift egg paterns or small nymphs to entice the browns. Be mindful of the spawners and try not to stress them too much. For current conditions, call the Fishin’ Hole in Kremmling at (970) 724-9407. Yampa River (Stagecoach through Steamboat) – Fishing in the tailwater below Stagecoach Reservoir remains fairly good with midge and occasional blue-wing-olive mayfly activity reported. But as essentially the only fishably clear stream in the vicinity, on some days it has been crowded. The runoff has begun around Steamboat Springs. The river likely will be unfishable until mid-June at the earliest. Call the Steamboat Fly Fishing Company at(970) 879-6552 for current conditions.
SoutheastArkansas River No.3 (Through Pueblo) – Water levels have been up and down. On Monday, the flow was raised to 477 cfs, and the water was a little discolored. Deep-drifting nymph rigs has been the best approach. Bead-head Flashback Pheasant Tails and Bead-head Hare’s Ears have been effective patterns. The river at present holds some large trout, with a recent stocking of brood fish from the DOW’s hatchery system. Frequent stocking of this stretch usually makes for excellent fishing. Between 30,000 and 40,000 catchable-sized rainbow trout are stocked annually, in addition to the brood fish. Habitat improvements have created deeper pools and structure for the fish to thrive in even when releases from Pueblo Dam are minimal. Standard fishing regulations and limits are in effect on this section of the river. Arkansas River (Buena Vista to Salida) – Flows in Browns Canyon are 450 cfs, with 4 feet of visibility. Blue-wing-olive mayflies continue to be the primary food source in this reach, with good hatches on cloudy days. Size 18-20 blue-wing emergers should be fished behind bead-head nymphs or blue-wing dry patterns. Look for caddis to be in the canyon by the weekend. Go to http://www.arkanglers.com for more info. Arkansas River (Leadville to Buena Vista) – Flows in the Hayden Meadows area are about 150 cfs, with flows at Granite in the 400 range. Blue-wing-olive mayflies are starting to hatch in this reach, particularly on low-light days. Fish a size 18-20 blue-wing nymph or dry with an emerger trailing. For more info, visit http://www.arkanglers.com. Arkansas River (Salida to Canon City) – Current flows are 450 at Wellsville and 520 at Parkdale, with 3-4 feet of visibility and rising water temperatures. Caddis are in the Howard-to-Salida area and will probably be above Browns Canyon by the weekend. Go to http://www.arkanglers.com for updated reports. Clear Creek Reservoir – Clear creek is completely open, and fishing is good from boats along the south shore using Montera Marvels. Also, trolling with Cow Bells tipped with Needlefish and night crawlers is working. Shore fishing is best from the boat ramp west along the north shore. Salmon eggs and rainbow Power Bait are producing the best results. Eleven Mile Reservoir – The reservoir is open to boating ? hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset. The bag and possession limit is 10 kokanee salmon and four trout, of which only two can be 16 inches or greater. No limit applies to northern pike. Trout action is fair. We are still on the tail-end of the spring spawn, providing the year’s best opportunity for a trophy catch, if patient, using hot-color Power Baits, various jigs and spoons, and night crawlers. Pike fishing is poor using Rapalas and sucker meat; however, pike action is expected to pick up as the water temperature approaches 39 degrees. South Platte River (btwn Spinney and Eleven Mile) – The river is open to catch-and-release fishing with artificial flies and lures. Fishermen report seeing significantly fewer fish in the river, indicating the spawning run of trout is about over. Deeper pools may still hold a few. Effective flies have been orange and yellow egg patterns, No. 18-20 Scuds, San Juan Worms, No. 20-22 Miracle Nymphs, No. 20-22 Black Beauties, and No. 18-22 Copper Johns. Spinney Mountain Reservoir – Spinney is open 1 hour before sunrise to 1 hour after sunset. Only the north boat ramp is in operation. The water level is 4.2 vertical feet from capacity, offering the best level in recent years. Only artificial flies and lures are permitted, with a bag and possession limit of one trout 20 inches or greater. Trout are spawning, offering trophy-catch opportunities. Although many fish are small, trout action is good to excellent using No, 14-18 Scuds, Hare’s Ears, No. 14-18 Calibaetis nymphs, brown moose-tail Hair Jigs, and various egg patterns. The action is best during early morning and evening hours. SouthwestGunnison River (below Crystal Dam) – The flow at the East Portal is 714 cfs, well below its early season mean of 1,849 CFS. The water clarity fluctuates with the temperature and the river is getting some color from Cimarron Creek and the Cerro Summit as it drains into the Cimarron, especially after this warm weekend. Fishing reports have been consistently good. Egg patterns, scuds, BWOs, RS-2s, Adams, Parachute Adams, Pheasant Tails, Flashback Pheasant Tails and an assortment of different colored midges have been the go-to patterns. During the spawning season, tread lightly on the redds. For current conditions call the Cimarron Creek Flyshop at 970-249-0408. Gunnison River (through the canyon) – Fishing has improved during the past week but remains sub par because of discolored water. Anglers have done well on streamer flies and San Juan worms in the Smith Fork section. Some dry-fly activity and emerging caddis also were reported there. No motorized craft are allowed above the North Fork tributary. Other restrictions include: Gold Medal Water, catch-and-release, flies-and-lures only. No rainbow trout may be kept. The Gunnison River Pleasure Park is offering ferry service to help anglers access the upper river. Call 970-872-2525 for current information.
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