Hurry up! Get out there and enjoy Free Fishing Weekend

Check the calendar. This is Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Free Fishing Weekend, so what are you doing at home?

Oh, don’t let a little (OK, a lot) of water put you off your game.

If you look, there is someplace just for you, which for the moment means fishing a lake or dam-controlled river.

You just have to figure out where and how.

“The river is ripping right now, so the rafting is pretty hot,” said Mark Mohney at Willowfly Anglers, 970-641-1303, in Almont, where the East and Taylor rivers form the Gunnison. “Fishing can be tough, but there are places to go.”

Mohney directs fly anglers headed north out of Gunnison to the Taylor River just below Taylor Park Dam, where flows Thursday were flat-lining at 508 cubic feet per second.

That’s not too high to fish in the special-regulations section below the dam, which is challenging water even in the most-optimum flows.

“We’re also sending fly anglers to the ponds at Roaring Judy (fish hatchery),” Mohney said. “That’s our go-to when the rivers are high.”

Over on the Fryingpan River, anglers are heading to the base of Ruedi Dam like lemmings over a cliff.

Flows in the river have been bouncing around a bit as water managers adjust to the rise and fall of inflow into the reservoir, and Thursday the flows were down to 545 cfs, which includes 70 cfs from the usually paltry Rocky Fork Creek.

Even at 545 cfs, you’ll find plenty of company (such as it can be in spring) on the ‘Pan, said Kirk Webb of Taylor Creek Fly Shops, 970-927-4374, in Basalt.

“Is the fishing tough? Well, yes and no,” Webb said, carefully covering all of the bases. “Anymore (runoff has) become an event where people come specifically to fish the upper ‘Pan, because when we have big water coming out of the dam, we also have big influxes of shrimp in the river down below.”

So many of the Mysis shrimp are being flushed through the dam that the torpedo-shaped trout are spread out as far as the bridge, a quarter-mile from the dam.

“About 95 percent of the people head to the dam, so that gives you so much of the river to fish,” Webb said.

But really, do you need to drive that far to catch the fish of a lifetime?

Right here in Grand Junction, fly anglers have been tagging fish up to 10 pounds or more.

“This is a great time to fish for carp,” said Matt James at Western Anglers Fly Shop,
244-8658. “The local lakes are hot right now.”

He suggested Corn Lake and Connected Lakes as places to search for Ol’ Rubberlips.

“The river and the sloughs will be better in a month or so when water levels drop,” James said. “It’s a little tough because the runoff makes sight-fishing difficult, but guys have been getting some really nice fish.”

And this weekend it’s free, which makes fishing even sweeter.


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