CDOW weekly fishing report — June 28, 2011
Summer finally has arrived, and mountain basins that might have had exceptionally heavy snow last winter now are calling out. All but the highest lakes have at least some open water, though melting snow banks remain around many, and snow drifts still might hinder access to some. If in doubt, the U.S. Forest Service district office nearest the lake can be a good source of information about trail and back-road conditions. Fishing may be good, it may be so-so, but the high country is rewarding in itself and sure to bring relief from the summer heat below.
Mountain creeks might be another good choice for a holiday outing. Though some still are running high, many have beaver ponds that are easily fishable. Many also are near designated campgrounds for a multi-day visit.
Somewhat lower, many popular lakes have been stocked with trout. They offer potentially good fishing for anglers of all fishing tastes, whether casual or more serious. Larger, mid-elevation reservoirs such as the “Sagebrush Lakes” of North Park and their South Park counterparts still feature good activity for fly fishermen, with midges, Callibaetis mayflies and damselflies all evident on the water. Blue Mesa Reservoir and the Granby complex of lakes have been fishing quite well through a time of heavy inflow from their feeder streams, and are near a full range of accommodations and holiday attractions.
Warm-water fishermen still are enjoying good fishing for bass, wipers, walleyes and crappie along the Front Range and the eastern plains, although the time of best activity is gradually turning to early mornings and evenings. Warm-water possibilities on the Western Slope include McPhee Reservoir, where largemouth bass have been hitting top-water baits, and Navajo Reservoir, which offers bass, crappie, northern pike and plenty of elbow room.
Stream fishermen might look to the Frying Pan River below Ruedi Reservoir, the South Platte tailwaters, where flows have been coming up but fishing conditions remained good early in the week, and the Rio Grande, where salmon flies have been hatching despite a higher-than-average flow.
With the holiday weekend at hand, the fishing choices are many and varied. And if that’s not enough, there’s always that picnic in the park.
Blue River (Dillon to Green Mtn. Res.)—Recent flows from Dillon Dam have been stable at 1,100 cubic feet per second, still high and well above the long-term average for the date. Though wading is more difficult, fishing still can be fairly good. Trout are dispersed and feeding in the slower water next to the main currents. Somewhat larger fly patterns are in order. Try Flashback Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns, San Juan worms and streamer patterns.
Colorado River (Glenwood to Rifle)—The lower Colorado is still high and discolored due to runoff. As soon as the river clears in the coming weeks, count on the Colorado fishing insanely well. Green drakes, Stoneflies, PMDs and caddis all will be hatching in good numbers. Currently, the best fishing on the river is for carp. The best areas to carp fish are the backwater sloughs below New Castle. The best fly patterns for carp include: swimming nymphs, Halfbacks, Woolly Buggers and soft-hackles. Several fish weighing more than 10 pounds recently have been landed.
Colorado River (near Granby)—Recent flows below Windy Gap and below Parshall were 5,470 cfs and 5,638 cfs, respectively - record spring-runoff conditions that are still increasing. Fishing is mostly on hold until flow rates drop. Under regular conditions, Copper Johns, RS-2s, Prince Nymphs, chartreuse Woolly Buggers, San Juan worms and egg patterns are commonly used. In the immediate Granby area and downstream to the bridge at the lower end of Byers Canyon, bait fishing is permitted and two fish may be kept. From the east side of the bridge abutments (the west end of Byers Canyon) down to Troublesome Creek, including the Williams Fork River from the reservoir, catch-and-release rules apply and fishing is by artificial flies and lures only.
Cowdrey Lake—Fishing mostly for recently stocked trout has been fairly good. Bait fishermen have enjoyed good results on salmon eggs, marshmallows and PowerBait. Spin-bubble fishermen have been doing OK with various wet-fly patterns.
Crystal River—The Crystal River is high and muddy due to spring runoff and currently is unfishable. Look for the river to clear and drop in the coming weeks. Once the river clears, look for good caddis and PMD hatches.
Delaney Buttes Reservoirs—Fishing has been tough through the recent windy and rainy weather, but Chironomidae and Callibaetis continue to hatch. Suspending a pair of Chironomidae nymphs in 8-12 feet of water has been the most productive approach. Early morning to midafternoon has been the best time. Streamer flies have been effective in the evening. Fishing on all three lakes is by artificial flies and lures only. The bag and possession limit for trout is two and size restrictions apply.
Eagle River—The runoff remains in full swing.
Elkhead Reservoir—Fishing has been slow with the runoff. It is starting to clear and warm up a little, so fishing should be picking up. The fish seem to be very active, but clarity is the limiting factor.The lake is a great warm-water fishery and has smallmouth bass, crappie,northern pike, catfish and trout. All species will fish extremely well once the runoff season ends. If you are not going to eat it, don’t take it. Any fish being taken from the lake must be dead prior to leaving it. Please help us ensure this fishery’s future. The Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program has announced that smallmouth bass will no longer be moved to Elkhead from the Yampa River during endangered fish work. Smallmouth bass already in the lake are unaffected by the change.
Frying Pan River—The Frying Pan has been fishing exceptionally well. The water flows are dropping and the Mysis shrimp “hatch” has been truly incredible. The dry fly fishing is picking up daily with increasing numbers of blue-wing-olives. A few PMDs also are being seen, and this hatch will increase dramatically over the next few weeks. Currently the best fishing is along the middle and upper sections of river above Mile Marker 4. Look for the majority of fish to hold near the banks and in any of the softer and slower sections of water. The best flies have included: BTS Mysis, Motown Mysis, Tim’s Mysis, 20-Inchers, egg patterns, PTs, RS-2s, and Barr’s Emergers.
Granby Reservoir—Good weather is forecast for the holiday. The shallow-water bite is fairly good, especially in the early morning and late evening. For many fishermen, trolling is working well. A lot of water is still being let out. However, the water level in the reservoir is rising rapidly. The gates of Shadow Mountain Dam are allowing much more water through, increasing fish activity and catch rates. Fly fishing is great if you can fish fast water. Night crawlers, meal and wax worms and sucker meat are viable baits. Fish Creek spinners, Matzuos, Rapalas, Kastmasters, Tasmanian Devils, etc., are good lures. Trolling worm rigs and lures, jigging, bottom fishing(crappie rigs work well), spin-casting and fly fishing are good ways to catch fish. Slip bobber rigs also work well.
Grand Lake—Fair-weather is forecast for the holiday. The streams coming into the lake, flowing fast from melting snow, are still enhancing fish activity. Lures, night crawlers, meal and wax worms are working. Jigging with sucker meat is common and productive. The lake is more than 270 feet deep and can be difficult to learn, but also very rewarding. The water level remains constant. It has very large lake trout, nice-sized rainbows, browns and kokanee salmon. Trolling lures and worm rigs, bottom fishing the shallow areas and slip-bobber rigs all are used to catch fish. The mouth of the channel, the public boat dock area, and the West Portal are prime spots.
Green Mountain Reservoir—The lake is filling and down only about 15-20 feet. Folks have been catching lake trout using night crawlers or sucker meat. They have also been using rainbow PowerBait and salmon eggs to catch rainbow trout.
Harvey Gap Reservoir—Windy conditions have made the lake very dirty. Sand and debris have caused fishing to slow. Boaters in deeper water are doing well for trout, perch and crappie. Fishing has been fair for rainbow trout along the dam. Fishermen have been having some success for northern pike in the shallows of the north end. Fishing has been fair for yellow perch. Lots of smaller perch are being caught all around the lake, but mostly near the boat ramp. Quite a few late-stocked trout from last fall overwintered at Harvey and are making for good fishing opportunity.
Highline Lake—Lots of trout were stocked into Highline and Mack Mesa lakes last spring. Fishing for them at both lakes remains fairly good on the standard baits and a variety of small lures. With warming water temperature, bass fishing at Highline has been improving. Parks staff is reminding anglers that if they catch a northern pike at either lake to please remove it from the water and notify the park staff.
Lake John—Trolling and casting from shore have produced mixed results for fishermen. Trout might have moved somewhat deeper but still are accessible by all fishing techniques. With the lake to be rehabilitated in August to rid it of suckers, fishermen are encouraged to keep the trout they catch.
Rifle Gap Reservoir—The lake is still at high water. Tons of water still flowing in Rifle Creek. Inlets are muddy, therefore fishing is poor. High water has kept the east and west ends shallow and in the weeds. Bass should be picking up when the sediment settles to the bottom. Fishing remains fair to good for trout and yellow perch all over the lake. Northern pike fishing has been fair to good near the inlet and in shallow areas. Walleye are still hanging out near the south island and around the boat ramp.
Roaring Fork River—The Roaring Fork River has reached peak runoff and is quickly receeding and becoming fishable. Look for good green drake hatches near Glenwood Springs and Carbondale in the next two weeks. All the fish are holding near the banks in any slower-moving sections of water. Be prepared with an arsenal of green drake patterns including: H&L Variants, Royal Wulffs, BDE Drakes, USD Drakes, 20-Inchers, Princes, red Copper Johns and Cat Poops. The upper river near Basalt and Aspen also is fishing well but is more stonefly, PMD and caddis oriented. Crowds are also much less on the upper river. Look for some of the best fishing in the West to take place on the Roaring Fork for the next month.
Shadow Mountain Reservoir—Nice weather is predicted for the holiday. Water movement from the way-above-average snow melt is still making this a great time of year to fish. When there is moving water(pumping out of Granby Reservoir), fishing the pump canal and the area around the mouth of the canal can be highly rewarding using flies, slip-bobber rigs, lures and night crawlers on the bottom. Kokanee, rainbows, browns and sometimes lake trout can be caught. Small jigs tipped with wax worms, mealworms, PowerBait or eggs are commonly used. Trolling, bottom fishing, spin-casting and fly fishing are good methods to use. Fishing is also good in the spillway below the dam (at this time, very fast water conditons) where all available species of fish can be caught.
Stagecoach Reservoir—The reservoir is open to boating and a pre-inspection for ANS is required prior to launching. The marina ramp is open daily 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and the Morrison Cove ramp will be open Friday-Sunday, 8 a.m.to 8 p.m., throughout the season as staffing allows. Trout have been hitting on flies, lures, PowerBait and worms. With the water temperature at 58 degrees, pike activity has been picking up. Tailwaters fishing is good using eggs and San Juan worms above sizes 18-24, olive RS2s, WD40s and Barr’s Emergers. The reservoir is spilling over the dam and the tailwaters flow is averaging 300-400 cfs, depending on the weather. The redds are down and fenced so please avoid these areas.
Steamboat Lake—The ice is gone but the water is high, turbid and cold. Though the overall fishing had been slow, recent stocking should improve the catch rate. Some holdover trout had been taken by trolling gold spoons and on pink PowerBait. The lake is open to boating. Inspection for aquatic nuisance species is mandatory.
Trappers Lake—The ice is gone but no reports of fishing are available. The road has been plowed to the lodge but not the campgrounds. Fishermen probably will need to traverse some areas of snow to access the lake.
Vega Reservoir—Average-sized trout are being caught all along the shoreline. Areas along the south road and near the diversion canal inlet have been best. PowerBait, night crawlers and a variety of lures all have been working well.
Williams Fork Reservoir—Rainbow and brown trout, lake trout, northern pike and kokanee are available. Trolling, jigging, fly fishing, bait and lures can catch fish. Night crawlers, meal and wax worms, sucker meat, PowerBait, eggs and many lures and flies are used. Only the east boat ramp is open. Inspections are mandatory for all trailered boats and begin at 6:00 a.m. The ramp is closed 1/2 hour after sunset. Permanent boat storage is prohibited. Anglers go after the pike as the water warms up; the catch rate is improving. Many lake trout and rainbows are also hungry. Camping is available. No reservations are accepted.
Willow Creek Reservoir—The water level is rising. Water is being let out as much as possible while the spillway is strengthened and repaired. The muddy water is clearing. Some bank areas have dried out and allow fishing access. Under regular conditions, rainbows, browns and kokanee salmon are waiting for fishermen to try their luck. It is a beautiful area with a nice campground, easy access and less fishing pressure than other area bodies of water. Night crawlers, meal and wax worms, PowerBait, eggs, lures and flies are used to get the fish to bite.
Yampa River (Hayden through Craig)—The river is up and running at high volumes, although the water is starting to clear. Currently, fishing is very slow but changes are occurring daily and things should be picking up. For a chance at a good-sized pike, try the ponds at the Yampa River State Park campground. They are being stocked regularly and will produce some good fish. Anything big should attract the pike. All pike caught in the ponds must be killed prior to leaving the site or returned to the pond. Be very cautious around the river; it is deep and fast at the present time. The Hayden pump station is closed to downstream access due to bridge clearance. Severe flooding is occurring west of Craig, with extreme volumes and debris all along the river corridor.
Yampa River (Stagecoach through Steamboat)—The Yampa remains high and discolored, a condition expected to continue into the near future. The only fishable water is the tailwater below Stagecoach Dam, which can become crowded.
Beaver Creek Reservoir—The water level is 20 feet below the high-water mark. It will be maintained at or below that level for the entire summer. Currently, the water level is right at the bottom of the boat ramp. Anglers are advised to be cautious on the steep-sided slopes. Anglers have reported fair to good fishing for kokanee and brown trout up to 14 inches.
Big Meadows Reservoir—Anglers have reported fair to good fishing from boats and from the shore. Fish are ranging in size from 10 to 15 inches.
Blue Mesa Reservoir—The lake is coming up fast, about 2 feet per day. Iola Basin is very muddy, with lots of debris. Salmon fishing remains good, with limits being caught daily in Cebolla and Sapinero basins from the surface down to 50 feet. Browns, lake trout and rainbows are being caught all over the lake by trolling typical salmon gear or Rapala-type lures from 10 to 60 feet.
Crawford Reservoir—Pike reports have slowed. Anglers have been catching catfish of all sizes night and day. Reports of full limits of crappie have been pretty consistent, with anglers saying the females are still full of eggs.
Dolores River (upper)—The river above McPhee Reservoir has been dropping and clearing. Some trout have been taken on Woolly Worms, Woolly Buggers and Muddler Minnows. Fish the river high in the drainage, above and below Rico, where public access is available and the fish habitat is good. Much of the lower part of the river is private. Because the lower section of the river has been channelized over the years, habitat is poor and the river holds few fish.
East River—With a flow of 2,100 cfs at Almont on Tuesday, the runoff continues.
Groundhog Reservoir—Trout up to 24 inches are being caught on flies and a variety of lures. Fish also are being taken by trolling with Pop Geer, and on PowerBait and Nitro Dough.
Gunnison River (through the canyon)—At this time, the fishing is slow. Still deep nymphing as well as some caddis coming off in Ute Park. It looks like the fish might be keying in, in the next three or four days. To improve the likelihood of a complete fill of Blue Mesa Reservoir this runoff season, Reclamation will again decrease releases from the Aspinall Unit. Over the next several days, releases will be slowly decreased by 100 to 200 cfs per day until flows in the Black Canyon and Gunnison Gorge reach about 1,200 cfs. For further questions please contact Gunnison River Expeditions at 970-874-8184 or visit our website gunnisonriverexpeditions.com or Gunnison River Pleasure Park at 970-872-2525
Gunnison River (Upper from Almont to Blue Mesa)—Tuesday’s flow was 3,460 cfs. The river remains in its runoff phase.
Jackson Gulch Reservoir—Fishing has been very good for 10-12 inch rainbow trout (limit 4) and 4-6 inch yellow perch (no limit). Trollers are still having the most success with in-line spinners and 1/4-ounce jigs. Shore anglers are catching trout on PowerBait, salmon eggs and night crawlers. Fly fishing is improving on calm evenings. Trout are especially active in the flowing water near the inlet. Yellow perch love those worms. Be sure to bring plenty of bait as there is no place to buy it nearby. Rainbow trout will be stocked monthly through the summer. Jackson Gulch requires an ANS inspection before launching boats. Regular inspection hours at the lake are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. A daily pass is required for day use of the park. For more information: http://www.parks.state.co.us or call 970-533-7065.
Joe Moore Reservoir—Night crawlers and PowerBait have been producing catches of rainbow trout. Largemouth bass have been taken on 4-inch plastic worms, and yellow perch are being taken on 2-inch Twister Tails, tubes and live grubs.
McPhee Reservoir—The water has been clearing and the surface temperature is 67 degrees. Fishing for smallmouth bass has been good with jigs, grubs and plastic worms. Largemouth bass have been hitting top-water baits. Trout still are taking bait off the bottom, and fly fishermen have had success in the evenings and early mornings. No walleyes were reported during the past week, and fishing for catfish remains slow.
Mountain Home Reservoir—This lake recently was stocked with more than 2,400 catchable-sized rainbow trout. Fishing for rainbows reportedly is fair, with reports of fish up to 16 inches in length.
Navajo Reservoir—The water temp is 65 degrees. Crappie fishing remains fair with minnows and John Deere-green grubs. Bass fishing is very good along the rocky points on crank baits and plastics. Pike fishing is fair using broke-back Rapalas. Catfish fishing is good on worms and dough bait. Call the marina at (970) 883-2628 for updated information.
Ridgway Fishing Ponds—The Pa-Co-Chu-Puk ponds of Ridgway State Park are excellent for children because they are the only water below the dam not restricted to artificial flies and lures or catch-and-release fishing. A limit of four trout per person may be kept there, by children and licensed adults, 16 years and older. The ponds are stocked monthly throughout the summer. Fishing continues to be good. Try worms, grasshoppers and red salmon eggs. Fly fishermen might try a black Woolly Bugger or gold-ribbed Hare’s Ear, size 14.
Ridgway Reservoir—The lake is filling; watch out for logs on the water. Fishing has been good for rainbows from shore and by trolling. Try using a black and red roster tail for Rainbows. The Small Mouth Bass have been biting along the dam and west shore points. Power Bait and worms work great from the shore.
Rio Grande River—Recent water flows at Wagon Wheel Gap have been around 2,000 cubic feet per second. The salmon flies began to emerge at the Coller SWA on June 13 and now arefollowed by other species of stoneflies. Caddis flies also have begun to emerge. The water is beginning to clear and the fishing is picking up. Anglers have reported good success by floating the river and on the Coller State Wildlife Area.
Road Canyon Reservoir—Anglers reported good fishing throughout the winter. Spring fishing has been good, with a number of individuals catching their limits in a few hours. Fish have ranged in size from 12-14 inches. The reservoir will be stocked throughout the months of June and July.
San Luis Lake—Due to low snowpack the reservoir will not be filled this season. The boat ramp has been closed to motorboats for the season and only hand-launched boats are permitted.
Sanchez Reservoir—Due to low water levels, the concrete boat ramp currently is closed and likely will remain that way for the remainder of the year. However, boats are allowed to launch from the shore, but there is some risk of getting stuck. Mandatory boat inspections are still in place and all boats must be inspected prior to launching. The inspection station will be open from approximately 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. Please make sure your boat is clean, drained and dry. Due to the discovery of rusty crayfish, an invasive species, all crayfish must either be returned to the water alive or killed by removing the head from the body or thorax before they can be removed from the reservoir. Anglers have reported fair to good fishing for northern pike and walleyes.
Smith Reservoir (San Luis Valley)—Fishing has been fair to good for rainbow trout. The reservoir was recently stocked with more than 2,600 rainbow trout.
Summit Reservoir—Fishermen have been taking rainbow trout on Nitro Dough. Crappie have been hitting 1- and 2-inch Twister Tails and tubes.
Taylor Reservoir—Fishing for the largest mackinaw has slowed because they are moving into deeper water, but average-sized fish still are plentiful in about 55 feet of water. Rainbow trout are scattered across the lake and being taken on worms fished off the bottom from anchored boats or by trolling cow bells and night crawlers in 13-20 fedet of water. Northern pike are in the shallows. Fishing for them is best in the afternoons when the water is choppy. Boat inspections are conducted 5:30 a.m. to dark. Cottonwood Pass is open.
Taylor River—The river on Tuesday was flowing at 424 cfs below Taylor Dam and 898 cfs at Almont. Though some fishable water may be found directly below the dam, most of the river remains difficult to fish.
Totten Reservoir—Top-water action for bass has been improving. Anglers also have been catching northern pike and a few crappie.
Tucker Ponds—The ponds will be stocked the first week of June and stocking will continue through July.
Uncompahgre River in Ridgway Park—The water temperature on the river at Pa-Co-Chu-Puk is about 48 degrees and it is clear. Fishing has been great. Fishermen have been picking up rainbow and cutthroat trout. Soft tackle, Phesant tails, and San Juan worms are working. Flows are around 650 cfs. With flows being high, watch for drop-offs when wading.