Cool techniques for keeping your fishing hot

Small high-country streams, such as Cochetopa Creek near the Dome Lakes State Wildlife Area south of Gunnison, offer relief from the heat as well as excellent dry-fly fishing. Grasshoppers and terrestrial patterns are important imitations during this season of intense insect activity.

A few things to remember if you’re thinking about fishing when the temperature hits 100 degrees and there’s not a cloud in the platinum-blue sky:

Go early, go late, go deep and go high.

Fish early mornings, sleep all day, fish late afternoons and into the dark.

When rivers drop and water temperatures rise, fish seek cooler water, which means deeper runs and holes where cool water pools.

Get into the mountains, from Steamboat Springs to Crested Butte to Lake City, where it rains (remember that phenomenon?) and 80 degrees might be the day’s high temperature, not the low.

“Getting high is absolutely the key,” said Phil Trimm at Western Anglers Fly Shop (244-8658) in Grand Junction. “If you can stand the mosquitoes, Grand Mesa is the perfect place to be.”

Dry-fly fishing is at its prime in mid-July and, in most places, that means caddis, various mayflies (Green Drakes, Pale Morning Duns) and, of course, grasshoppers.

Trimm said ‘hopper fishing on the Gunnison, Colorado and other area rivers is at its best right now.

Take along a selection of the typical summer variety of bugs, but don’t leave home without a box of good grasshopper imitations.

“The Gunnison is having huge caddis hatches and you’ll see lots of Yellow Sallies and the PMDs are just starting,” he said. “But ‘hoppers are the ticket. Right now the ‘hoppers on the Gunnison are fantastic.”

If you’re not sure which of the many grasshopper imitations to use, Trimm has couple of patterns to recommend.

Most mid- to low-elevation waters, from small creeks around Lake City to larger streams in the broad reaches of Taylor Park and north to the White River east of Meeker, will be grasshopper heaven.

The exception may be the Steamboat Springs area, where guide Jonah Drescher of the Steamboat Flyfisher (970-879-6552) said a wet, cold spring prolonged runoff on the Yampa and Elk rivers.

“It was just like having a big snow year,” Drescher said. “We just stepped into the Elk 10 days ago. Our rivers are just getting prime and the water temperatures are perfect.”

That late spring delayed some of the summer hatches, Drescher said, with the caddis hatch just starting.

Good ‘hopper fishing might be two weeks off, he said.

“But it’s getting better every day,” he said. “It rained this morning and right now the caddis are popping.”

Trimm also likes mid-summer escapes to the Steamboat Springs area, especially the brook trout fishing in the upper stretches of Fish Creek just outside of town.

“Anything in the high country is going to be great,” he said.

Getting out early, before the water and day heat up, and staying out late also are key to summer fishing.

Trout, bass and other fish get lethargic in the heat (just like anglers, no?) and seek places of shade and cover.

They start to come out as the sun gets low, which also is a time when the hatches start again.

The Green Drake hatch is now up around Basalt, and this dusk-to-dark hatch is a prime example of late-day summer fishing at its best.

It’s a tough hatch for lower Colorado Valley anglers to fish because it means getting home around midnight, but if you don’t mind the drive, fishing in the dark is a fascinating experience.

And going high means more than Grand Mesa.

“The fishing has been really good around here,” said Kay Tarasewicz of The Sportsman (970-944-2526) in Lake City. “There’s good fishing on the Rio Grande, the upper Lake Fork and all the way up Henson Creek.”

The Lake City area is spiderwebbed with small- to mid-sized streams offering prime dry-fly fishing, and there is enough public water that you’re able to find some sense of solitude.

Most times, anyway.

Dan Hall, whose eponymous Dan’s Fly Shop (970-944-2281) in Lake City normally is the place to check for southwest Colorado’s fishing conditions, said he’d love to talk about fishing but he was just too busy when reached by phone Monday.

“I have maybe 10 to 12 customers lined up here and they’re all anxious to get going,” he said over a hubbub of voices. “They all just arrived from Texas and Oklahoma and New Mexico and they all want to go fishing right now.”

Hall this summer celebrates 50 years owning the Lake City fly shop. His small store also has a fascinating fly-fishing museum with articles and artifacts from some of the area’s most-famous anglers, including the great Hank Roberts.

It’s something to do while you wait out the hottest part of the day.


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