FISHING REPORT: Yampa River fishing hot
Runoff is over, the Yampa River is at its best level for floating right now and overlapping hatches of Yellow Sallies, Pale Morning Duns, Caddis, midges and Green Drakes offer excellent fly fishing all the way from the tailwater below Stagecoach Reservoir through the town of Steamboat Springs.Keith Hale, a guide for the Steamboat Fishing Company, says fishing beneath the dam is always good but the tailwater gets a lot of pressure at this time of year. He personally favors the less crowded stretch downtown, where the river is flowing at 350 cfs and always stays clear. On rainy days it turns tea-colored but remains very fishable.You don’t have to be an early riser to fish the Yampa. Hale says the best times of day are from noon until 3 p.m. and then again at dusk. “The evening Caddis and Drake hatches produce exceptional dry fly action,” he says, “and on overcast days you’ll see a Blue Wing Olive or two.”When Drakes are hatching use No. 12 Colorado Green Drakes, Lawson’s Green Drakes, Spot Light Emergers and Cripples. For Caddis use No. 16 olive or tan Elk Hair patterns. Other dries: No. 14-16 PMD Emergers, Parachutes, Sparkle Duns, No. 16 Pablo’s PMD Cripple, Chuck’s Trude and yellow Stimulators. In dry/dropper rigs, Hare’s Ear and Prince Nymphs, Green Caddis pupa or chartreuse Copper Johns make good trailers. Other good nymphs include a No. 20 Beadhead Pheasant Tail, No. 20-22 black RS-2 or No. 18 Barr’s PMD. As long as you’re in the area, also try two of the Yampa’s tributaries, the Bear River southwest of Steamboat Springs and the Elk River northeast of town. The Bear is seeing a lot of BWO hatches and is fishing well above Bear Lake with attractor dries like the yellow Humpy, yellow Stimulator and green Elk Hair Caddis. Hale says this is one of the few streams in Colorado where you can get a Rocky Mountain Grand Slam: all four species of trout – browns, brookies, cutthroats and rainbows – in one river.Warm water Ironically, Evergreen Lake is a cold-water lake stocked with rainbow trout. But so many outgunned anglers have been hooking – though rarely landing – tiger muskies on light trout tackle here that we must break the rules and make it a warm-water hotspot. Jake Fleshman, 23, of Wheat Ridge was luckier than most. He landed a 37-1/2-inch tiger last week on six-pound test line baited with a nightcrawler. Other trout fishermen have been equally shocked by tiger muskies hitting on Power Bait and salmon eggs. The fish are opportunistic eaters, meaning they will eat anything that presents an opportunity to chow down, but normally they prefer something bigger than a worm, such as baby ducks, muskrats, mice, rats and, of course, rainbow trout. That could explain why they’ve been biting so well at Evergreen Lake; they may have run out of trout, though 9- to 10-inch rainbows will be restocked this week.A cross between a northern pike and a muskellunge, the tiger muskie has the most desirable characteristics of both species: it goes after bait or lure with the savage intensity of a pike and fights airborne like a muskie. Also, it grows to great size; the current state record, caught at Quincy Reservoir in 1994, is 53-inches and 40-plus pounds. Denver Metro/Central MountainsClear Creek (above Hwy. 119) – Swollen by recent rains, the creek is high, muddy and unfishable for now but should clear quickly when the weather clears. Trout have been hitting small Mepps and Vibrax spinners, Caddis dries and Flashback Hare’s Ear and Pheasant Tail nymphs. Mornings are best. Clear Lake – Fishing has slowed but can still catch small rainbows and brookies with Power Bait or salmon eggs fished 10 feet deep. South Platte River (Waterton Canyon) – The further up the canyon you go the better. Flyfishers are using many different nymph patterns, among them Pheasant Tails, Princes, Rock Worms, Stoneflies and Brassies. Lure casters are reporting success with small Tormentors. Special restrictions apply on many sections of the South Platte; see Page 68 of the fishing regulations. NorthwestBlue River (below Green Mountain Reservoir) – River is running low, slow and clear, but fishing is only fair. Anglers say there are too many bugs competing with their flies: caddis, PMDs, grasshoppers and Blue Wing Olives on cloudy days. Use No. 14-16 Elk Hair Caddis, a No. 10 Joe’s Hopper or No. 18-20 BWO. The tailwater beneath the dam is subject to periodic security closures. 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 from Dillon Reservior remains clear at 52 cfs. The best action in Silverthorne is nymphing with No. 22-24 midge larva. Downriver, Green Drakes and Caddis are providing great fishing, the closer to Green Mountain Reservoir the better. When Drakes are hatching use No. 12 Colorado Green Drakes, Lawson’s Green Drakes, Spot Light Emergers and Cripples. For Caddis use No. 16 olive or tan Elk Hair patterns. The best dry fly fishing occurs on cool, cloudy days; action slows when bright sun hits the water. Colorado River (below Parshall) – Flow is 339 cfs near Kremmling, the river is clear and fishing is very good with Caddis, Pale Morning Duns and Yellow Sallies hatching all the way from Radium to Parshall. Use No. 14-16 tan caddis patterns, No. 18-20 PMDs and No. 16 Yellow Sally. Colorado River (Glenwood to Rifle) – The Colorado is clear green and flowing at 2,950 cfs in Glenwood Springs. Green Drakes are hatching daily, especially at dusk, along with good midday hatches of Pale Morning Duns and Caddis. Good dries include Royal Wulffs, Para Drakes, Drake Sparkleduns, Stimulators, 20-Inchers, Stalcups Drake Emerger, BH Princes, Sunken Spinner, Electric Caddis, BH P-Tails and Sparkle Pupae. Colorado River (near Granby) – Runoff has increased with daily rain showers, but the river remains very fishable at 322 cfs. Nymphs and midges still work and surface action is starting to pick up with Parachute Adams and Elk Hairs leading the way. Dry/dropper rigs, Stimulators and Irresistibles also work and larger patterns are getting hits. Many different hatches are now in progress. 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. Elkhead Reservoir – Lake has cleared and crappie fishing is very good. Some of the fish run up to 14 inches. Smallmouth bass are also moving into the shallows to spawn and pike fishing remains fair to good. Yellow jigs with a red head work best for crappie. Buzzbaits, Rapalas and Mepps Black Furies all catch pike, Most bass are being caught on jigheads with chartreuse Twister tails. Limit for smallmouth and largemouth bass is two fish at least 15 inches long Fryingpan River – The river is clear and flowing at 110 cfs below Ruedi Reservoir and 280 cfs at Thomasville. Hatches include Pale Morning Duns and Caddis, most prolific on the middle and lower river. Best dry fly fishing has been from noon until 4 p.m. with a good Rusty Spinner fall at dusk on the lower river. Good BWO, Midge and Mysis Shrimp activity continues below the dam. Hot patterns include Pink PMD Sparkleduns, Harrops Thorax PMD, PMD Cripples, Little Yellow Caddis, Stimulators, BWO No Hackles, BWO Sparkleduns, Poxyback Baetis Pheasant Tails, BLMs, Harrops Biot Captive Duns, and Electric Caddis. Grand Lake – Trout fishing for rainbows remains good at the river inlet, near the east boat ramp and around the connecting channel mouth. Panther Martins and most other spinners catch fish, as do salmon eggs, worms and Power Baits. Some lake trout are being caught on sucker meat and large spoons. The lake level remains full. Bag and possession limit for lake trout is 4 fish, only one of which may be over 36 inches. Until June 30, all lake trout between 26 and 36 inches must be released. Green Mountain Reservoir – Lake level is rising nicely but fishing has slowed and can only be classed as fair. Boaters and shore fishermen are only catching a few fish on bait or lures, mostly by the inlet around the McDonald Flats. Rifle Gap Reservoir – The lake level is 40 feet below capacity. Only the south side of the boat ramp remains usable and a sharp dropoff requires caution. Perch fishing is excellent all over the lake. The fish average 8-9 inches but they have been biting like crazy on worm harnesses and silver Panther Martins. Crappie fishing has also picked up along the dam using brown crappie jigs. Trout fishing has slowed, though some are still being caught at the southeast and west end of the reservoir. The best baits are worms, popcorn shrimp or Power Bait. The best bite is at night. Upstream at Rifle Falls, brown and rainbow trout bite well in the afternoons on black flies and worms. Rio Blanco Lake – Pike fishing is very good, as this lake’s local pike population has been augmented by fish removed from the Yampa River. Anglers report seeing some real jaw-droppers but haven’t been able to land any. Crappie and bluegill are hitting very well on small white and yellow jigs with Twister tails. Chartreuse was the best color over the weekend. Roaring Fork River – Green Drakes are hatching daily along with PMDs, Caddis and smaller stoneflies. The whole river is clear with great visibility, flowing at 747 cfs in Basalt and 1,540 cfs in Glenwood. Best fishing time has been afternoon til dark. Good patterns include Royal Wulffs, Green Drake Sparkle Duns, H&L Variants, BDE Drakes, Pink PMD Sparkleduns, BH Princes, 20 Inchers, Lite Brite Caddis and BH P-Tails. White River – Rain swelled the river last week but it is dropping again with flows of 745 cfs near Buford and 480 cfs near Meeker. Flyfishers are having good topwater action with Caddis and Irresistibles. Also try Adams, yellow Stimulators, black Woolly Buggers and Royal Coachmen. Williams Fork Reservoir – Anglers are catching a lot of trout in the inlet using No. 7 Rapalas in rainbow trout, black and silver or red and white colors. Pike fishing is good using red and white Dardevles or whole shiners. Quite a few lunkers have been pulled out of the fingers on the west side. Kokanee are hitting well on trolled Needlefish and Wedding Rings in 18 to 20 feet of water. Lake trout have moved into much deeper water and few have been caught lately. Williams Fork River – Running very low at 17 cfs and fishing is poor. Caddis and Pale Morning Duns are hatching regularly but fish are spooky because of the clear water. Fishing should improve if Williams Fork Reservoir fills up and begins releasing more water. Yampa River (Stagecoach through Steamboat) – Fishing is consistently good in the tailwater below Stagecoach Reservoir with midges and evening Caddis. Nymphs: No. 20 Beadhead Pheasant Tail, green or blue Copper John, No. 20-22 black RS-2 or No. 18 Barr’s PMD. Dries: Parachutes, Sparkle Duns and PMD Emergers. Flow in downtown Steamboat Springs is 246 cfs with hatches of PMDs, Yellow Sallies and caddis. Dry fly action in the evenings has been great. Use PMD dries and emergers, No. 16 Pablo’s PMD Cripple, Chuck’s Trude and yellow Stimulators. In dry/dropper rigs, Hare’s Ear and Prince Nymphs, Green Caddis pupa or chartreuse Copper John make good trailers. Several river sections are restricted to flies and lures only and/or catch-and-release. See Page 78 of the regulations. Call the Steamboat Fishing Company at 970-879-6552 for the latest conditions. SoutheastArkansas River No. 3 (Through Pueblo) – Flows beneath Pueblo Dam are moderately high but clearing, and fishing for trout is good. This section of river has been repeatedly stocked. Arkansas River (Buena Vista to Salida) – Flow is 650-750 cfs with good clarity. Yellow Sally stoneflies have been very active. Also some Pale Morning Duns and a tan evening caddis. Hoppers are plentiful in the grass. Arkansas River (Leadville to Buena Vista) – Flows are 109 cfs near Leadville, 212 cfs in Hayden Meadows, 450 cfs in the Granite Gorge. Gray Drakes are getting active above Lake Creek and below, look for Yellow Sally Stoneflies and Pale Morning Duns. Many reports of excellent fishing in this section. Arkansas River (Salida to Canon City) – Flows are 760-780 cfs with good clarity except for occasional short shots of mud from thunderstorms. Yellow Sallies, PMDs, tan caddis, and hoppers top the menu right now. Float-fishing has been outstanding. Clear Creek Reservoir – Anglers report catching their limits of trout in two to three hours. Browns are being caught near the inlet on Kastmasters; stocker rainbows are hitting Power Bait, salmon eggs, Adams and Mosquito flies. Boaters do best trolling the south shore with Arnies or Cowbells and crawlers. Elevenmile Reservoir – Fishing is fair to good along most shorelines with pike hitting well in the weed beds at Parking Lot and Corral Cove. Use Black Bunnies, sucker meat or black/silver Rapalas. Boaters do well on trout at the east end of the lake on Tasmanian Devils, Rapalas, Panther Martins, rainbow-patterned cowbells and Arnies tipped with nightcrawlers. Shorecasters do best with Power Bait or salmon eggs at Witchers Cove, Howbert Point and the North Shore. Salmon fishing is good in the middle of the lake between Duck and Goose Islands. Use green, white or orange Power Bait, Tasmanian Devils, Panther Martins and Dick Nites. South Platte River (btwn Spinney and Elevenmile) – This section of river is flowing at 47.5 cfs and fishing very well. Hatches include baetis, Tricos, hoppers and Mayflies. Use No. 12-16 Chironimids, UFOs, Black Beauties, nymphs, Griffith’s Gnats, Trico Duns and San Juan Worms. SouthwestGunnison River (below Crystal Dam) – Flow is 386 cfs and clear but the Bureau of Reclamation says it may go up to meet water contracts. This may affect fishing for a day or so. PMDs and Caddis are hatching from Chukar down to the forks. A double-nymph rig works best during non-hatch periods. Consider a midge pupa or larva if things really slow down. Mornings fish best but late afternoons can be productive if you fish the shade lines. Dries: No. 14 Stimulator and Elk Hair Caddis, Caddis, PMD Adams and Hoppers. Nymphs: No. 10 Halfback, No. 20-26 midges (larva, pupa and emerger phases), Pheasant Tails, Flashback PTs and beadhead versions, Copper Johns and Woolly Buggers. Call the Cimarron Creek Fly Shop at 970-249-0408 for updates. Gunnison River (through the canyon) – Flow through the canyon is 410 cfs and expected to go up to 500 to 600 cfs today. Fishing through the gorge is good, especially in the long-tailed riffle runs. Most of the fish being caught are browns. Yellow Sallies and chartreuse Copper Johns, No. 16-18, are the hot flies of the moment. The North Fork is down to wadeable levels. But jet boat trips will resume if the water level rises. 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. No motorized craft are allowed above the confluence of the North Fork and Gunnison Rivers. For the complete fishing report, visit http://wildlife.state.co.us/dowfish/index.asp.
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