Fishing Report: Waters remain good as snowpack shows mixed blessing
The latest snowpack readings compiled by the Natural Resources Conservation Service Snotel survey appear to be a mixed blessing for Colorado fishermen.According to the May 1 readings, snowpack across most of the state’s river basins decreased during a warm, dry April that brought on an early melting of winter snow. The statewide average on May 1 was 65 percent of the long-term average, compared to 94 percent on April 1. One year ago, the statewide total was 66 percent of average.Decreases ranging from 20 to 38 percent were recorded in all basins, and for the first time this season, all of the state’s basins had below-average snowpack totals, according to the NRCS.The largest drop was in the Gunnison Basin, going from 94 percent a month ago to 56 percent of average on May 1. That still is an improvement from last year, when the figure was 45 percent of average.Current percentages for other basins, compared to a year ago were: Colorado, 78, 89; South Platte, 74, 96; North Platte, 87, 111; Yampa/White, 84, 117; Arkansas, 66, 60; Rio Grande, 41, 29; San Juan/Animas/Dolores, 44, 33.Reservoir storage across much of Colorado was in good condition, and was higher than last year in most drainages. The Gunnison Basin was at 133 percent of lat year’s storage. Others were: Colorado, 106; South Platte 90; Yampa/White, 109; Arkansas, 66; Rio Grande, 68; San Juan/Animas/Dolores, 112. For anglers, the shrinking snowpack means the runoff that began somewhat ahead of schedule also could end sooner. But if dry weather persists, low river flows later in the season are a possibility.Kids fishing day set for MeekerThe Colorado Division of Wildlife and U.S. Forest Service will sponsor a Kids Fishing is Fun Day on June 3 in Meeker. The event will be 9 a.m. to noon at Circle Park. Activities will include instruction, a casting contest, a drawing for prizes donated by Wyatt’s Sports Center and the White River Electric Association, and fishing in the park ditch, which will be stocked for the occasion. Lunch will be included. For additional information, call the DOW’s Meeker Service Center at (970) 878-6090, or the Rio Blanco Ranger District at (970) 878-4039.For the complete, statewide 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. Tying in a size 16 bead-head Prince Nymph below as a dropper fly is the trick here. Fish right out of Golden all the way to Black Hawk. Fish a hole, and if you don’t see fish, move up the creek. If you see them, you can catch them. Call 303-421-4025 for more information. 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. South Platte River (Waterton Canyon) – Flows have been a little up-and-down, but generally in the range of 125-225 cfs. The water is clear, and fly fishermen have noted good Baetis mayfly activity. The section from Strontia Springs Dam downstream to 300 yards above the Marston diversion structure is restricted to artificial flies and lures and offers the best fishing. The most effective lures for spin-fishermen are small Panther Martins, Mepps or Blue Fox spinners. Night crawlers are most effective in the unrestricted lower stretch. 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 farther downstream the water can be discolored with afternoon rain storms. Fishing is fair to good on 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.) – Little has changed during the past week. Flows from Dillon Reservoir remain at 101 cfs. On-and-off snow during the past week kept the river clear and uncrowded. Midge patterns have been working best. Black Beauties, Flash-wing midges and Brooks Sprout midges have been effective, used as dropper flies below Mysis shrimp and egg pattern attractors. 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. The river may be off-color in the afternoon. Colorado River (below Parshall) – The fishing above Kremmling still is fairly good with flows of approximately 600 cfs above the confluence with the Blue River and Muddy Creek, but the river can become off-color because of afternoon showers and 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. Downstream at Pump House, watch for hatches of blue-wing-olives. Flows down here are around 1,300 cfs. 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. If you are looking for fishable water, the Frying Pan and upper Roaring Fork have been red hot. Expect the Colorado to remain discolored through the runoff season and begin clearing mid to late 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 will have color and will have increased flow during the run-off season. Egg patterns, San Juan worms, small nymphs, black midges, Woolly Buggers and Copper Johns have been working well. The stream flow below Windy Gap last weekend was down to 368 cfs. due to pumping into Granby Reservoir. However, near Kremmling, it was running at 1,360 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 Pan has been exceptionally consistent the past week. As other rivers throughout the West succumb to runoff, the Frying Pan will remain gin-clear as it flows out of Ruedi Reservoir. Light angling pressure, good even flows and more and more blue-winged-olives daily have been the formula for great fishing the past week. Hot fly patterns have been SZ 20 Jujubee Midges, BWO Biot Emergers, Flashback PT’s, gray and black RS-2s, Parachute BWOs, Sparkle Dun BWOs, Trailing Shuck Midges, Frying Pan Emergers, and if you are up by the dam, Mysis shrimp have been good choices, as well. Grand Lake – Early birds do best fishing the drop-offs. The channel between Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Grand Lake has been fishing well. Please call Budget Tackle if you have any first-hand fishing reports. 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 several large lakers have been taken the past two weeks. For more information, call (970) 724-3677. Rifle Gap Reservoir – The lake is full. The water temperature is 56 degrees. The East Rifle Creek inlet is still somewhat cloudy from snowmelt. 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. A few visitors caught walleye last weekend. 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 have been 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 really 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 is high, discolored and essentially unfishable. For conditions updates, call Wyatt’s Sporting Goods in Meeker at (970) 878-4428. Williams Fork Reservoir – With the lake rising fast, 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 the flats for pike. Try off the points for big lakers; up in the inlet for good trout. 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 from the Colorado, and plenty of browns are feeding on the eggs. Drift egg patterns 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 fishable 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) – Flows have come up to more than 500 cfs, but the water is clear and fishing remains very good. A dry-dropper rig, with an elk-hair caddis on top and a bead-head Pheasant Tail 20 some inches below, has been effective along the edges of faster currents. Hatches have been sporadic; nymphing has been the most productive technique. 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) – This is the week for fishing this section of the Arkansas River. Flows are in the 550 cfs range with good clarity and water temperatures have risen to the point where caddis will be hatching. Blue-wing-olives continue to come off on cloudy days, also. Go to http://www.arkanglers.com for more information. Arkansas River (Leadville to Buena Vista) – Flows on this reach are 185 cfs in Hayden Meadows and 450 at Granite. Blue-wing-olives are the main staple now, with caddis expected to move into the upper river next week. For more information, visit http://www.arkanglers.com. Arkansas River (Salida to Canon City) – Current flows are 575 cfs at Wellsville and 630 at Parkdale. The river has 3-4 feet of visibility. Caddis have moved above Howard; blue-wing-olives continue to hatch on cloudy days. Go to http://www.arkanglers.com for updated reports. Clear Creek Reservoir – The lake is free of ice. Fishing for trout from shore and boats has been fair. The lake typically produces very good fishing for rainbow, cutthroat and a few large brown trout. It also has kokanee salmon, mostly less than 13 inches with a few over 15, and fishing for them should be good in 2006. The water-supply reservoir was full last year and also will be filled to capacity in 2006. Eleven Mile Reservoir – The reservoir is open to boating 1/2 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. Trout are beginning to leave spawning beds for deeper water. Hot-color Power Baits, various jigs and spoons, and night crawlers are working well. Pike fishing is poor using Rapalas and sucker meat; however, pike action is expected to pick up as the water temperature approaches 39 degrees. Kokanee salmon action is fair from boat using Pop baits, Kastmasters, and various trolling spoons. Gold and pink are the best colors. 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 trout spawning run is tapering off. 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. SouthwestGunnison River (below Crystal Dam) – The flow at the East Portal is 714 cfs, well below its early season mean of 2,500 cfs. Clarity is being affected upstream by the Cimarron River flowing at 212 cfs, well above its mean of 101. Fishing still is good if you know the river. 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 were hot in the Smith Fork section. Red Copper Johns in size 14 also were hot, and action was good on caddis. 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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