Fishing Report: Spring brings in mixed conditions
Springtime in Colorado represents both the best and worst of times for anglers. While the spring thaw continues, chasing the ice from ever more lakes and reservoirs, it also triggers the runoff in free-flowing rivers across the state.
Blue Mesa Reservoir and the “Sagebrush Lakes” of North Park are the latest additions to the list of major flat waters that are free of ice.
Big-fish specialists have been taking some impressive mackinaw from Blue Mesa, along with the standard rainbow and brown trout. With ice receding, but not fully gone from other lake-trout waters such as Twin Lakes and Granby, Taylor and Turquoise reservoirs, the action is just beginning for devotees of Colorado’s cold-water heavyweights.
Big fish – mostly browns and rainbows – also are a major attraction at Lake John and the Delaney Buttes reservoirs in North Park. Ice fishing was very good, and the early open-water season might be even better. The trout are cruising near the shore and they are hungry. Streamer flies and other crayfish or minnow imitators can produce some memorable results, but fish also are taking an assortment of nymphs and other flies.
Ice-out fishing began earlier than usual at the South Park reservoirs, and it remains quite good at Elevenmile, Spinney Mountain and Antero reservoirs.
Spring fishing for trout can be some of the best of the year on many lakes, and it should remain good well into the summer.
On the downside, most major rivers are in varying stages of the spring runoff. Through some daily fluctuations, the rivers are rising and the water is discolored. Runoff conditions are reported on the Colorado, Roaring Fork, Gunnison, Rio Grande, Animas, Yampa and White, among others.
A notable exception is the Arkansas, where the caddis hatch continues to move upstream. Even so, anglers hoping to encounter a blizzard of caddis are in a race with the inevitable runoff that likely soon will render the river all but unfishable.
With snowpacks at about normal levels across the state, the runoff should be significant, but not as prolonged as last year.
A relatively cool spring has delayed truly good warm-water fishing but that, too, soon should be springing to life. Wipers are on the move at Pueblo Reservoir and walleyes are gradually becoming more active in other lakes. Bass fishing soon should improve in smaller ponds that warm a little sooner and eventually in the larger bodies of water.
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