For many, the warm-water fishing season is just beginning
For a significant number of Colorado anglers, the “real” season began this week.True enough, the season extends the year around. And many have been testing the open waters since the ice disappeared, with varying degrees of success. But for the 20 percent of the state’s 716,000 fishermen who, according to a DOW angler survey, indicated their preference was warm-water fishing, the season is just beginning.Judging by the reports from across the state, water temperatures finally have edged into the magic zone where bass, walleyes, crappie, wipers and other warm-water species are becoming consistently active. The trend should continue well into the summer, before the dog days slow things down again.Possibilities for the coming week include reservoirs and ponds up and down the Front Range, including the metro Denver and Fort Collins/Greeley regions. Pueblo Reservoir, usually among the first to spring to life, has been a little slow coming around this year, but veteran fishermen are saying “any day now.” With continued warm weather in the forecast, that seems a likely bet.Boating fishermen are advised the ramp at Martin Reservoir in Lathrop State Park is closed through May 25 for construction. The water level at Brush Hollow Reservoir near Penrose has been dropping rapidly, and while fishing has been quite good, the boat ramp at best is marginal. Attempting to launch anything but small, shallow-draft boats is not recommended.Fishing in most eastern-Colorado reservoirs also has turned on. With the exception of several lower Arkansas River valley impoundments, all have fairly good water levels. Exceptions include Holbrook, Upper and Lower Queens, Horse Creek (Timber) and Two Buttes reservoirsNee Noshe Reservoir is low but has good populations of fish. The boat ramp on the south side of the reservoir has been repaired and is usable by small to midsized boats.On the Western Slope, good possibilities include Navajo, McPhee and Echo Canyon reservoirs in the southwest quadrant, and Harvey Gap, Rifle Gap and Rio Blanco reservoirs in the northwest. Elkhead Reservoir in the Yampa River drainage is closed for dam repairs and will not reopen this year.For cold-water enthusiasts, many lakes and reservoirs offer good early season fishing for rainbow and brown trout and mackinaw. The “sagebrush lakes” of North Park and Spinney Mountain and Elevenmile reservoirs in South Park offer potentially good action for large trout. Blue Mesa Reservoir has trout, mackinaw and kokanee salmon. Taylor Reservoir is free of ice and uncrowded. Fishing for large rainbows, browns and lake trout has been good.Runoff continues to affect many free-flowing streams. Tailwaters remain in good condition, however, and though conditions could change at any time, at last report the upper Roaring Fork, Arkansas, Big Thompson and Poudre still were fishably clear.Denver MetroClear Creek (above Hwy. 119) – This stretch has a lot of fish willing to be hooked, but hurry before the runoff. Use small Black Beauties, size 18-22; Disco Midges, size 16-20; and small, black Pheasant Tails, size 18-20. For dry-fly action, use blue-wing-olives or olive Elk-hair Caddis on rainy, overcast days. Find the deep holes, find the big fish. 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. Early season fishing can be good.South Platte River (Waterton Canyon) – Flows have been up-and-down, but most recently have been low. The water is clear, and fly fishermen have noted blue-wing-olive and midge 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 holding steady at 113 cfs. The river below the dam is fishable.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. Blue River (Dillon to Green Mtn. Res.) – Little has changed during the past week. 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. Colorado River (Glenwood to Rifle) – The Colorado River below Glenwood Springs is heavily discolored, unfishable and flowing at 5,100 cfs. If in the area, focus your efforts on the Frying Pan and Roaring Fork Rivers, both of which have been fishing very well. Colorado River (near Granby) – Fishing below Parshall remains fairly good. Streams will have color and will have increased flows during the runoff 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 422 cfs. However, near Kremmling, it was running at 1,350 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. Fryingpan River – The Frying Pan River is fishing exceptionally well, with current river flows being 267 cfs. Good hatches of blue-wing-olives and midges, and Mysis shrimpwill be found on the upper river below the dam. Caddis are beginning to appear in good numbers on the lower stretches of river, as well. Hot fly patterns include BTS Baetis, Pheasant Tails, Biot Midges, RS-2s, Jujubees, BWO Sparkleduns, Frying Pan Green Mountain Reservoir – The ake is down around 30 feet but coming up. Rainbow trout are being caught from shore on worms and salmon eggs. Bigger lake trout are being caught trolling, using Flatfish and Kastmasters.Roaring Fork River – The Roaring Fork is clear and fishing well from Aspen to Carbondale. River flows are currently 128 cfs in Aspen and 715 cfs in Basalt. Below Carbondale the river is discolored and unfishable. Good daily hatches of Caddis and BWO’s will be seen during afternoons. Hot fly patterns include: Princes, SJ Worms, Copper Johns, BLM’s, Swiss Straw Emergers, Thread Emerger, RS-2’s, Flashtail Eggs, Pearl and Elk Caddis, E/C Caddis, BWO Quill Parachutes, BWO Sparkleduns, Zebra Midges, and P-Tails.Williams Fork Reservoir – With the lake level 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. Williams Fork River – The flow is 68 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. With the warm afternoon sun, watch for PMDs and midges. Drift egg patterns or small nymphs to entice the browns. Be mindful of the spawners and try not to stress them too much. 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. Southeast Arkansas River No.3 (Through Pueblo) – Flows have been variable, seemingly with higher volumes on weekends cut back during the week. Early in the week, the flow was about 490 cfs, the water was clear and the fishing excellent. A three-fly rig with a No. 16-18 indicator such as a Parachute Adams, trailed by an 18-20 bead-head Phesant Tail nymph and any small emerger has been the ticket. Hatches have been sporadic; almost all the action has been sub-surface. Frequent stocking of this stretch usually makes for excellent fishing. 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) – The river is running about 500 cfs through this stretch and the caddis hatch is in full swing. By midweek there should be strong hatches from Browns Canyon up through Buena Vista. Arkansas River (Leadville to Buena Vista) – Flows on this section have been 220 cfs at Hayden Meadows, 480 at Granite and 540 in Buena Vista. Clarity was good as of last weekend, but the runoff may begin by next weekend. Caddis will push into this reach toward late week – blue-wing-olives continue to hatch. Arkansas River (Salida to Canon City) – Flows in this section have been 530-580 cfs with good visibility. That may start to change by the weekend if warm weather helps to initiate some runoff. The caddis have moved beyond this area – blue-wing-olives and craneflies are hatching, with stonefly nymphs becoming active in advance of their migration toward shore. Beckwith Reservoir – The lake southwest of Pueblo has been stocked with catchable-sized trout. Try salmon eggs, Power Bait or night crawlers, or small shiny spoons and spinners if spin-casting.Clear Creek Reservoir – The lake is free of ice. Fishing for trout from shore and boats has been fair to good on the usual array of baits and lures. Fly fishermen report good action from boats on black and purple Woolly Buggers. 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.South Platte River (btwn Spinney and Elevenmile) – 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 fies 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.Southwest Gunnison River (below Crystal Dam) – The flow at the East Portal is 699 cfs, well below its early season mean of 2,500 cfs. Clarity is off-color, and is being affected upstream by the jump in the Cimarron River up to 450 cfs. 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 greatly improved in the Smith Fork section. Anglers have done well on streamer flies, and San Juan worms. Gold-ribbed Hare’s Ears, size 14; red Copper Johns, size 14; and Cutter Caddis, size 14- 16 were hot. Caddis are coming off in droves. Some dry-fly activity and emerging caddis also were reported. 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. On the WebFor the complete fishing report, visit http://wildlife.state.co.us/Fishing/Reports/StatewideConditions/.
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