RBC — For many Colorado anglers, the opening of Spinney Mountain Reservoir marks a symbolic, if not a truly official, beginning of the new fishing season. The winter finally is at an end. Hopes are running high. The ice is gone, trout are on the move and a full season of fishing lies ahead.
Conditions awaiting the throngs at Spinney are similar to those found at reservoirs across the state. The water level is significantly higher than in recent years, reflecting a bountiful snow season after several years of drought. Though an estimated 100 yards of ice remained along the dam face at the start of the week, both boat ramps were to be in operation,
The fishing prospects were bright. A fall stocking program designed to keep trout away from northern pike through the winter has been effective. An abundance of rainbows awaited opening-day anglers. Though Spinney might no longer be quite the same trophy trout water as when its reputation was built, it still has plenty of quality fish. As in many other lakes, those larger fish are likely to be cruising near the shore at ice-out.
Fly fishermen working streamer flies, egg pattern and nymphs; spin-casters chucking tube jigs, micro jigs and crankbaits – hundreds of anglers were expected to test Spinney’s ice-out waters. Some would be very successful, others less so. Either way, a new year of fishing would officially be under way.
Similar activity can be expected on other reservoirs. The “Sagebrush Lakes” of North Park still had ice early in the week, but it was rapidly deteriorating. Ice-out, with its potentially hot fishing, was expected in a matter of days, possibly a week or so. Ice remained on much of the Granby complex of lakes, but areas of open water also were available. Blue Mesa Reservoir had significant areas of open water, but ice still was found by the marinas. Elevenmile Reservoir still was 70 percent ice-covered and boating was not available.
Stream fishermen encountered marginal condition on many free-flowing rivers. Warm days produced discoloration; cool days after cold nights brought back fishable clarity, but with arrival of May, the main spring runoff is imminent.
Northwest Lakes and Rivers
Colorado River (Glenwood to Rifle) — Recent flows were 2,050 cfs in Glenwood Springs. With temperatures rising, the river has become unfishable. River and creek closures are in effect along the major tributaries below Glenwood Canyon. Hot flies include: San Juan Worms, Flashtail Eggs, Princes, Pheasant Tails, BLMs, STDs, CDC Loopwings, Zebra Midges, Autumn Splendors, Ziwis and Stingin’ Sculpins.
Elkhead Reservoir — Elkhead is open for boating and fishing. The ice went off last week and things are looking good. Fishermen took good-sized trout and a few crappie and bluegills through the ice last winter. Although the bass did not make a strong winter showing, that is not uncommon. The reservoir’s warm-water fish showed great potential last summer and fall, so hope for good things this season. This summer, camping and other activities will be coming on line as construction is completed. The lake surprised many, and provided a great opportunity last year. Local fishermen still encourage catch-and-release fishing until the fishery is re-established.
Kenney Reservoir — The lake is open, but fishing overall has been slow and few fishermen have been on the water. Some rainbows have been taken on Power Bait, and night crawlers have produced some catfish and carp. Night crawlers also have been taking some catfish from the White River below Taylor Draw Dam.
Lake Avery — The lake is free of ice. Fishing pressure has been light.
Rifle Gap Reservoir — The reservoir is open for boating and one courtesy ramp is in the water. Trout are very active and appear very healthy. Several thousand 10- to 12-inch rainbows were stocked last week and they are very active. The walleyes are spawning and seem to have slowed other activity. The pike and perch still are not very active. Some smallmouth bass reportedly have been caught by the boat ramp.
Rio Blanco Lake — Though early season fishing has been slow, crappie recently have become active. Standard yellow crappie jigs have been producing. Fishing for bass, channel catfish and northern pike has not yet come around. Activity will pick up with warmer water temperatures.
Roaring Fork River — The Roaring Fork is running clear from Aspen down to Brush Creek, just below Jaffe Park. Recent river flows have been 541 cfs in Basalt and 868 cfs in Glenwood Springs. Fishing below the Crystal River confluence has been touch-and-go. The nymph fishing has been superb up high, with complementary midday hatches of BWOs, especially on overcast days. Hot flies include: Flashtail Hot Eggs, San Juan Worms, Princes, red Copper Johns, STDs, BLMs, Pheasant Tails, RS-2s, CDC Loopwing BWOs, BWO Thread Emergers, Frying Pan Emergers, Para-Quill BWOs and Stimis.
Stagecoach Reservoir — The reservoir still has 12-18 inches of ice, with a little open water around the inlet channel. Ice fishing has been good in recent weeks, with trout taking worm-tipped jigs and pike becoming more active. Late-season ice fishermen are urged to be especially cautious because conditions can quickly change. For more information, visit www.parks.state.co.us
Steamboat Lake — Ice fishing has been very good all winter but is slowing down. Nice-sized fish are still being caught, but fewer of them. The area had a record year for snow. Despite recent warm weather, lots of snow and thick ice remain; the lake has no open water. Most roads are still closed, but the ice is accessible for ice fishing at the marina parking lot or by walking the ski trail on snowshoes or skis from the visitor center to Placer Cove. Don’t expect ice-off until sometime in May. Please use caution on the ice as it gets slushy in warm weather and often is frozen in breakable layers. During the winter, 14 electrical camping hookups for self-contained units are available in the marina parking lot. For current conditions, please call the visitor center at 970-879-3922.
Trappers Lake — The lake is frozen and the road above Mile Marker 32 has not been plowed. Fishermen may use only artificial flies or lures. The limit on cutthroats is two fish. All cutts longer than 11 inches must immediately be returned to the water alive. Fishermen are encouraged to keep all the brook trout they catch.
White River — The river has been up and down with changing weather patterns, and on Monday was flowing at 591 cfs near Meeker. As a rule, fishably clear water can be found above the Miller Creek confluence. Fishing for rainbow trout has been fairly good on stonefly nymphs, bead-head Prince Nymphs, Pheasant Tails and black-and-yellow spinners.