Fishing report, May 5 – Arkansas River work to begin

HIGH COUNTRY LAKES OPENING EARLY – Colorado Parks and Wildlife crews are working hard to get inspection stations open at popular lakes and reservoirs in the Colorado high country as ice has come off up to a month early in some spots. Boat inspections will begin this week at popular Park County waters like Antero and Tarryall. Spinney Mountain State Park and Eleven Mile State Park are also open for boating ahead of schedule. A complete boat inspection schedule is available online at

UPER ARKANSAS HABITAT WORK TO BEGIN – Fish habitat enhancement work is set to begin later this summer on public parts of the upper Arkansas River below the Highway 24 Bridge as biologists and engineers with Colorado Parks and Wildlife prepare to restore a section of river that was once mostly lifeless because of decades of mining activity. The river restoration work is a key part of the federal and state effort to restore the California Gulch Superfund Site, an 18-square mile area where historic mining activities occurred. Mines in the area created the discharge of heavy metals and acid into California Gulch at the headwaters of the Arkansas River, making the river in that area unable to sustain healthy fish populations. The river currently supports a good trout population because of earlier mine cleanup efforts and will be further enhanced by the upcoming habitat improvements. See the full press release at

READY TO FISH FOR A MILLION? – Colorado Parks and Wildlife is once again joining with Cabelas to offer a few lucky anglers the chance to win up to $2 million in cash and more than $225,000 in additional prizes by catching tagged fish at select lakes across the United States. Colorado is one of 19 states participating in this year’s “Wanna Go Fishing for Millions?” event, which takes place between May 5 and July 8. Register now and read the rules at

BUY A FISHING LICENSES – 2012 licenses are on sale now and valid through March 31, 2013. Grab a license at one of our offices (see the list here), over the phone at 1-800-244-5613, at one of the more than 700 license agents statewide (find an agent near you) or online at


Delaney Buttes, Cowdrey and Lake John (Jackson County) – Fish Reporter heard from Tish and John Willcox up at Lake John Resort this week. Here’s what they had to say: “The weather has been quite unsettled during the past week. We got all of the “W”s. Wind. A blast of Winter. It was Warm for a couple days. And we also had a downpour of Wain. But no matter how hard it tried, the Weather couldn’t put a damper on the fishing. I talked to several fishermen during the past week, and no matter if they were spending time on the Delaneys, Lake John, or both, it seemed all were very pleased with the action.” They say most anglers are using hardware – lures and spoon – or trolling gear but she’s heard that a few of the fly fishermen were doing well too. Tish and Bill say they’ve seen the fish patterns change a bit on Lake John since the reclamation work was completed. Some of the old methods – like floating a worm or PowerBait off the bottom aren’t working as well as they did in the past. Stop by the resort and they’d be happy to fill you in.

Elkhead Reservoir State Park (Moffat County) – The ice has melted off the lake. Muddy conditions have limited the fishing activity. Pike anglers reporting increased action and are reminded that there are no limits on pike at Elkhead Reservoir. There are no fishing reports from anglers on other species at this time. You can provide your fishing report from Elkhead by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Fryingpan, Crystal and Roaring Fork Rivers (Pitkin and Garfield County) – Here’s some information on the upper Fryingpan from the folks at Taylor Creek Fly Shop: “FLOW: 41 CFS. WATER CLARITY: Clear and fishing. Lower flows have made for some great dry fly action with midges and small beatis patterns. 7x is a must for fishing right now on the Pan, dry dropper has been the go to set up for consistently hooking fish. FOOD SOURCES PRESENT: Midges 22-24. Beatis 20-22. Mysis Shrimp 16-22. Streamers 4-8. The Fryingpan has been offering some amazing dry fly fishing with both midges and beatis at the moment with great numbers of midges coming off throughout the day between the hours of 10 a.m. till 4 p.m. The beatis hatch has started to pick up in the earily afternoon hours, look for those rising fish on the surface when those midge and beatis hatches have been popping off. Dry dropper rigs with 7x has been key right now, Sparkle dun BWO’s and Collett’s Para. BWO have been great lead flies with foam top RS-2’s or a hatching midge trailed behind has been a deadly combo.”

Harvey Gap State Park (Garfield County) – No report this week. Got a report on Harvey Gap, send it to us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Highline Lake State Park and Mack Mesa Reservoir (Mesa County) – Trout are still biting at both Mack Mesa and Highline Lakes - some nice sized trout have been taken from both lakes recently, along with the stockers. Bass and crappie are finally biting, as the water finally warms up to 60 degrees or so. Near the dam at Highline Lake seems to be the best fishing area for bass and crappie, from the bank or from a boat. PowerBait is now available in the Visitor Center, along with nightcrawlers and fishing licenses. Get ready to be “Gone Fishin” at Highline or Mack Mesa Lake! For those who prefer to troll Highline Lake, ANS boat inspections are available at the WEST ramp, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. only. As always, “. . . the worst day fishing is better than any day at work!” If you catch or see a northern pike at either lake, please remove it from the water if possible and turn it over to park staff.

James M. Robb Colorado River State Park (Mesa County) – Fishing has been great at Island Acres. People are catching their limit in trout at Old Orchard Lake and there are a few large trout that were stocked that have been biting on flies. At Corn Lake the trout fishing is excellent as well and most people are using power bait. The water at Red Rocks Lake in Fruita is warm enough now for the crappie and catfish to be active and trout are biting on power bait and flies. The fishing at Connected Lakes has been somewhat slow but there have been a few people catching bass.

Lake Granby (Grand County) - The lake trout are hitting well, according to the chatter on Sounds like anglers in deep water trolling from boats are bringing them in. Water temps are in the 46-48 range so laker fishing is still hot this week at Granby.

Pearl Lake State Park (Routt County) – Pearl Lake is ice free and a few reports of the fishing getting very good. The road is open to motorized traffic. Please remember Pearl Lake is regulated to flies and lures only, with a bag limit of two 18”+ trout.

Rifle Gap State Park (Garfield County) – Most anglers are looking for perch (no limit), pike (no limit) or trout (limit 4). Most recently some large walleye have been spotted on the bottom of the lake off the Cedar campground loop. It was reported that a 22” walleye and a 24” northern pike were caught by the same angler.

Stagecoach State Park (Routt County) – Anglers fishing from the shore or a boat have had good luck near the inlet. Pike and trout reports have slowed, but people are still catching plenty of fish. Tailwaters anglers are using San Juan worms, RS2’s and zebra midges. CR 18 is now open. During the busy season for the Tailwaters, anglers are asked to be mindful of the resources and help avoid overcrowding.

Steamboat Lake State Park (Routt County) – The reports on fishing are great. We have had reports of 17-20 inchers being caught. The fish seem to be hitting just about everything. Remember only hand launched boats are allowed at this time.

Sylvan Lake State Park (Eagle County)
The Lake is ice free as of April 12. Fishing should really take off over the next few days. East and West Brush Creek are open, but slightly cloudy from the runoff. The beaver ponds between the lake and Visitor Center have been good for smaller brookies and browns on a variety of flies.

Vega State Park (Mesa County) – Fishing is excellent with rainbows being caught in the 12 - 18 inch range. Early Settlers boat ramp is open at this time. All trailered boats must be inspected at the Visitor’s Center prior to launching.

Williams Fork Reservoir (Grand County) – Williams Fork is reported ice free but no fishing reports from the field so far.


Blue Mesa Reservoir (Gunnison County) – Blue Mesa is boatable and the ice is off. Local anglers say this is the earliest they can remember ice off in quite a few years. Elk Creek and Lake Fork boat ramps are open from 6:30am to 6pm. Base water temps are from 40-42deg. Water levels are about 30 feet below full pool. Fishing around rocky shorelines has been very good for browns and rainbows using marabou jigs and small tube jigs tipped with meal worms.
Lake trout fishing is fair with some bigger fish coming out of 20-50 feet of water jigging large spoons or tube jigs. Kokanee salmon fishing is also good with fish being caught across the west end of the lake trolling from 5-25 feet deep.

Crawford Reservoir (Delta County) – The pike have been hungry! Therefore, they have been biting well lately. We have recently had one caught that was over 19 lbs. Lots of other pike ranging from 9 to 17 pounds and up to 42” have been reported. Pike anglers are encouraged to keep as many fish as they can due to an overabundance of pike in Crawford Reservoir.  There are no limits on northern pike at Crawford. Biologists are monitoring the fishery to gather data and work with anglers on a new lake management plan. Crappie have also been reported as more anglers get out along the shore and in boats.

Jackson Gulch Reservoir, Mancos State Park (Montezuma County) – The reservoir is open to boating. The snow continues to melt in the high country so the inlet on the north side of the lake is flowing and this is always a good place to fish. Ten inch rainbow trout were stocked monthly through last summer and plenty of holdovers are still around. Fishing has been excellent for rainbow trout around 10-12” and 4-6” yellow perch with an occasional large brown trout. The trout are hanging out in 5-20 feet of water and also around the inlet. Powerbaits are working well, especially garlic. Also try florescent green and gold spinners and worms. Perch love nightcrawler, mealworm, or waxworm so a small jig tipped with nightcrawler works well. Perch are spending their time right down on the bottom of the lake. Perch are small, averaging about 4-6”, but anglers should keep them if they’ll eat them. There is no limit on the number of perch you can possess and they make great fish tacos! This also helps to work towards thinning the perch population in the lake. The daily limit for trout is 4. Remember to purchase your new fishing license (your old one expired 3/31).

McPhee Reservoir (Montezuma County) – Ice is off and the reservoir has been stocked this spring. The main boat ramp is open. Nearby Echo Canyon, Groundhog, Pastorius, Totten, Summit, Narraguinnep and Puett Reservoirs are also ice-free and fishable.

Navajo Reservoir State Park (Archuleta County) – Northern pike and catfish have started biting. Water temperature is currently approximately 49 degrees. Call our marina at 970-883-2628 for more information. Colorado and New Mexico fishing licenses are available at the Visitor Center.

Ridgway State Park (Ouray County) – Brown Trout fishing has slowed down a bit in the reservoir but is still decent. There have been several browns in the 3-6 lbs range caught, but the larger browns have seemed to move to deeper water. In April the reservoir was stocked with over 31,000 catchable (8”-14”) Rainbow Trout. Shore fishermen have been doing very well in all areas of the park. Shore fishermen are doing especially well between Dutch Charlie Fishing Pier and the mouth of Mears Bay. Shore fisherman should continue to try gold KastMasters, yellow/black Panther Martins, and pink power bait or salmon eggs off the bottom. Boat fishermen are having luck with gold pop-gear and black and silver sinking Rapalas. Fishing in the Uncompahgre River in Pa-Co-Chu-Puk is still exceptional. The river flows are currently at 94 cfs but will continue to rise as spring runoff continues. Please see above information on May 1st flow testing. Fly fisherman are doing well on prince nymphs and hairs ears, but other small early season emergers are working as well. Spin fisherman are doing well with gold Mepps and yellow and black Panther Martins. Please remember that the Uncompahgre River in Pa-Cu-Chu-Puk is restricted to flies and lures only and all fish caught must be returned to the water immediately. The Ponds at Pa-Co-Chu-Puk have a good population of holdover Rainbow and Brown Trout. Fishing the ponds this spring has been very good. Fishermen have been doing well with night crawlers and salmon eggs on top in the mornings and evenings, and various colors of Power Bait off the bottom in the middle of the afternoon. Please remember that the Uncompahgre River running adjacent to the ponds is restricted to flies and lures only and all fish must be returned to the water immediately.

Sanchez Reservoir (Costilla County) – Sanchez Reservoir is currently closed to all trailered watercraft.  The boat inspection station will open on May 11 at which time trailered boats will be allowed on the reservoir.  The inspection station will be open approximately 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.  Please be aware that the concrete boat ramp is currently closed due to low water.  However, boats may be launched from the shoreline after being inspected.

San Luis State Park (Alamosa County) – Anglers are advised that San Luis Lake will not be getting water this year in an effort to reduce salt loading in the lake and the Rio Grande River. A press release explaining the change can be found at

Taylor Park Reservoir (Gunnison County) – Dee Dee at the Taylor Park Marina sent us this update this week, “We are open for the season! We have boats available to rent, bait fully-stocked and the grill is open for food service! The ice came off on Friday. We do not have any boat inspectors yet, so everyone needs to have an inspection and get a green seal at another location prior to launching at Taylor. The inspectors will be onsite starting May 11.  We had our first northern pike caught Saturday. It weighed 6 lbs. They are hanging in the shallows. Some small macks were caught and released. Rainbows are hungry and you can easily catch your limit.”

Vallecito Reservoir (La Plata County) – Ice is off but no fishing reports out of Vallecito yet. The boat ramp is open Wednesday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. but you need an appointment if you show up on a weekday (call 970-884-2558).


Northwest Region: Corn Lake, Clifton, James M. Robb Colorado River State Park; Ligon Reservoir, Routt County; Riverbend Park Pond, Palisade; Seymour Reservoir, Jackson County.

Southwest Region: Bush Pond, Conejos County; Echo Canyon Reservoir, Archuleta County; Haviland Lake, La Plata County; Smith Reservoir, Costilla County.


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