Insect activity improving for Colorado’s river fishermen
April continues to be a time both of promise and anxiety for Colorado anglers.Warm days and at times wicked winds continue to chase the ice from lakes and reservoirs, including the “sagebrush lakes” of North Park, known for their hot ice-out fishing for large trout. All had large areas of open water early in the week. All could be ice-free by the weekend. At the least, Cowdrey, the Delaneys and Lake John will be fishable. Even Blue Mesa Reservoir in the cold Gunnison Valley has a large area of open water.The winds are a mixed blessing. They can make fishing uncomfortable at best, difficult to virtually impossible at other times. Even with open water, conditions can turn winter-like. Much of the Colorado high country reported falling snow on Tuesday. Many higher-elevation lakes remain frozen.Stream fishermen, meanwhile, are trying to outguess the progress of the runoff. Many free-flowing rivers and creeks are running turbid on warm days, but clearing up when the weather cools. In many cases, the discoloration is caused by a low runoff – the melting of snow at lower elevations – but the main spring thaw in the high country will be starting soon. Even so, insect activity, and with it the prospects for fly fishing, are improving on many rivers. Warm, overcast days are optimal for blue-wing-olive mayfly action, and early caddisfly hatches will be appearing soon. With a heavy snow pack across much of northern Colorado, the trick is to fish during the clear-water intervals between the low and high runoffs. Rivers below dams continue to offer good fishing conditions. But as demands from downstream water users begin, they, too, are likely to rise with releases from storage reservoirs.For the complete, statewide fishing report, visit http://wildlife.state.co.us/Fishing/Reports/StatewideConditions/Denver Metro
Clear Creek (above Hwy. 119) – Clear Creek offers a fly-fishing extravaganza. Use Blue-Wing-Olives, Adams, or Elk Hair Caddis. If the fish are not hitting dry flies try Black Beauties, Copper Johns or RS-2s. Clear Lake – No current reports are available. The lake south of Georgetown off the Guanella Pass road typically is free of ice in late April or early May. 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 steady at 356 cfs. 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.) – Fishing in Silverthorne continues to be fairly good, mostly with midge and Mysis shrimp patterns, but river conditions are variable, with periods of discoloration caused by rising and falling temperatures and melting snow. Some large rainbows still are being spotted and hooked, but only a few of the largest fish are being landed. Small, dark colored, midge patterns continue to be the best flies, in sizes 22, 24, and 26. Mysis Shrimp and egg patterns work well as attractors. The inlet to Green Mountain Reservoir has been fishing well, also. Use egg patterns and San Juan worms when the water gets a little off-color. Otherwise, try Bead-head Hare’s Ears, Copper Johns or small stonefly nymphs. Colorado River (below Parshall) – The fishing above Kremmling still is fairly good with flows of 1,400 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 has been flowing at 4,780 cfs. The river is heavily discolored and not fishable. Call the Taylor Creek Flyshop in Basalt for current river conditions at 970-927-4374. We are not expecting the river to fishable until the annual caddis hatch begins at the end of the month. Colorado River (near Granby) – Fishing below Parshall is good. Spring is finally here. Streams usually are fairly clear early in the morning. On warm afternoons, rivers will have some color. Egg patterns, San Juan worms, small nymphs, black midges, wolly uggers and Copper Johns have been working well. The stream flow below Windy Gap last weekend was 535 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 increased flows of 289 cfs below Ruedi Reservoir. Mysis shrimp are coming out in very good numbers, with large, 5-pound-plus fish becoming more commonplace. Midges and BWO’s are the dominant food sources in the upper river. Caddis and small stoneflies also can be found on the lower river. Dry-fly fishing is slowly picking up with the heaviest hatches taking place below the dam. Good flies include: Tim’s Mysis, Sands’ Epoxy Mysis, Poxyback Baetis, Pheasant Tails, Zebra Midges, RS-2s, Jujubees, Johnny Flashes, Electric Caddis, Buckskins, and Poxybiot Stones. Grand Lake – Water movement at the East Portal kept open-water fishing conditions in that area most of the winter. Early birds do best fishing the drop-offs before sunrise. The channel between Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Grand Lake has been available for open-water fishing all winter and has been doing well. Grand Lake has very questionable ice for fishing. For current conditions call Budget Tackle in Granby at (970) 887-9344.
Green Mountain Reservoir – Open water has appeared along the south end of the reservoir, extending past McDonald’s Flats. Some fly fishermen have been working the inlet area. Ice-out also is a good time to fish for lake trout, but ice along the drop-off to the shoreline and mud pose some problems in getting to the water. The north and west end of the lake still have ice, which appears to be deteriorating quickly. Rifle Gap Reservoir – The lake is almost full. The water temperature is 50 degrees. The east Rifle Creek inlet is somewhat cloudy from snowmelt, but many have had good luck fishing for trout and northern pike. Try deep-running crankbaits or streamer flies for pike. Trout have been hitting Panther Martin spinners and streamer flies. Fishing for bass and walleyes remains slow. The boat ramps are in the water and the docks will be set up soon. The catch-all in this lake seems to be a perch-imitation type 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 – The lake is free of ice. Fishermen have been catching some crappie and bluegills on red, white and chartreuse crappie jigs. Northern pike have not been active yet, but will appear with warmer water temperatures. 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 Aspen to Carbondale. Below Carbondale, the river is discolored. Current river flows are at 112 cfs in Aspen, 773 cfs in Basalt, and 1,840 cfs in Glenwood Springs. Good midge hatches are taking place on the river near Aspen, with decent BWO, caddis, and small brown stonefly hatches occurring below Basalt. Nymph fishing is still the most consistent, and has been very good using San Juan Worms, Princes, 20-Inchers, Flashtail Eggs, and Poxyback Stoneflies as attractor patterns. Successful dropper patterns include RS-2s, Zebra Midges, Biot Midges, Beerhead Baetis, and Bat-wing Emergers. We expect the lower river to remain high and unfishable this week. Call the Taylor Creek Flyshop in Basalt for daily river conditions at 970-927-4374. White River – The river has been rising but the main runoff has not yet begun. On warm days the water can become discolored but still generally fishable; on cooler days it clears up. Fishing success has slowed, but some decent-sized rainbow trout still are taken on nymphs, streamer flies and small spinners. The river is accessible up to about 32 miles east of Meeker. Several special restrictions apply; check the DOW’s regulations booklet for details. For current conditions, call Wyatt’s Sporting Goods in Meeker at (970) 878-4428. Williams Fork Reservoir – Most of the lake remains ice-covered, but the river in the inlet is flowing open. As the inlet region opens up, fish for rainbows and browns. For current conditions, call the Fishin’ Hole in Kremmling at (970) 724-9407. Williams Fork River – The flow is 204 cfs and the fishing is good. A lot of rainbow trout are running up Williams Fork to spawn, 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 has been good with midge and occasional blue-wing-olive mayfly activity reported. But as essentially the only fishably clear stream in the vicinity, it has been crowded. Fish are staging for spawning, and anglers are asked to avoid disturbing the redds. The runoff appears to have 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. Southeast
Arkansas River No. 3 (Through Pueblo) – Flows have been up and down during the past week, most recently at 130 cfs after dropping to 56 cfs. Warm cloudy days should provide good hatches of blue-wing-olive mayflies, but the fishing can be tough on windy days. Most of the trout still are holding in deeper pools. Frequent stocking of this stretch of river makes for excellent fishing. Between 30,000 and 40,000 catchable-sized rainbow trout are stocked annually, along with some larger brood fish of 3-5 pounds. Also, 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 this reach are 300-325 cfs and the water is clear to green. Blue-wing-olive mayflies are most active, with strong hatches on cloudy days and active nymphs and emergers on brighter days. Bugs are in a size 18-20. Whether fishing on top or sub-surface, trail an unweighted emerger pattern behind your lead fly. For current conditions, go to http://www.arkanglers.com. Arkansas River (Leadville to Buena Vista) – Flows in the Hayden Meadows area are about 150 cfs with flows at Granite in the 270 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 375 at Wellsville and 410 at Parkdale, with clear to green water and rising water temperatures. While blue-wing-olive mayflies continue to be the dominant food source in this section, look for caddis to be emerging on the lower river this week. For updated reports, visit http://www.arkanglers.com. Clear Creek Reservoir – The lake is still frozen, with a little open water starting to show on the west end. The ice is getting soft and caution is needed to go out on it. Some bank fishing is available on the west end, and the lake will thaw out quickly when the winds and the warm weather hit it. 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 longer than 16 inches. There is no limit on northern pike. Trout action is fair. Trout are currently spawning, 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. South Platte River (btwn Spinney and Eleven Mile) – The river is open to catch-and-release fishing with artificial flies and lures only. Trout are spawning in the river, providing opportunity for trophy catches in deeper pools using 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 East Portal Road is open. The flow is 639 cfs, well below its early season average. The water is getting some color. Egg patterns, scuds and BWOs and midges, including nymphs, emergers and dries are recommended. 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) – The flow is 634 cfs and the water is off-color from Chukar Trail downstream to the confluence because of runoff below Crystal Dam. Fishing conditions are below par due to the murky water. No Hot Flies this week; look for better conditions soon. 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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