When it comes to the weather, fishermen are a little hard to please.
After several years of dry conditions and low water in many streams and reservoirs, the current spring and early summer have brought welcome rain to most parts of Colorado.
But the same rains that have been a boom to farmers and water providers also have put something of a damper on the fishing.
Though fishing in most lakes and reservoirs remains quite good, fewer fishermen appear to have been on the water in recent days, largely because of the weather. Rain and cooler temperatures also have kept the water temperatures cooler in some lakes, especially those in the mid to higher elevations.
Even so, lake fishermen as a rule have been doing fairly well. The North and South Park reservoirs continue to fish well. Chironomidae midges, a bonanza to fly fishermen, a bane to others, still are coming off Elevenmile, and Spinney Mountain reservoirs and the Sagebrush Lakes to the north, but the annual hatch is winding down. Consequently trout in Lake John and Elevenmile Reservoir, among other waters, again seem more likely to take lures and baits, as well as artificial flies.
Trout still are in fairly shallow water through much of the day, and northern pike have been active in the shallows of Taylor and Williams Fork reservoirs and other traditional pike hot spots.
Across the state, river and stream flows have been trending downward, but with rain adding to the snowmelt, the runoff is not yet finished on most. High-but-clear conditions are evident on the Arkansas River. The Rio Grande and Roaring Fork are dropping and fishably clear, and the Gunnison system is not far behind. Below the Curecanti system of dams, flows in the Gunnison have dropped and the annual stonefly hatch appears about ready to pop.
Warm-water fishermen, meanwhile, are finding a mixed bag. Overall activity is improving, but just as conditions appear optimal, the weather pattern sets things back a little.
Cooler weather and water temperatures on the lowlands are likely to extend the prime warm-water season a little later into the summer, and ample rainfall could keep the water levels up.
Be bear aware
Fishermen and campers are reminded that many of their favorite waters are in bear country. Taking simple precautions such as not leaving food out where bears can find it and keeping a clean camping site can avoid potential problems for people and bears alike. The Colorado Division of Wildlife offers brochures and other information for reducing the risk of bear encounters. They are available at DOW offices statewide.
Summertime fishing also is the time for summer thunderstorms, complete with lightning and possibly heavy rain. Colorado is among the top states in the country for recorded lightning strikes. Lightning poses some special hazards to fishermen, especially if they are on or near large bodies of water, on exposed hillsides, or carrying graphite fishing rods.
When thunderheads are building up, it’s best to get off the water quickly. Seek appropriate shelter, but avoid tall objects such as trees. If necessary, lie flat on the ground under low-profile brush until the storm passes. Don’t carry graphite rods or aluminum rod cases; leave them on the ground, find shelter and return for them later.
Big Creek Lakes — The lakes are ice-free and the road once again is accessible. Lake trout and tiger muskies have been noted in the shallows, but few reports of success have come in. Spawning rainbow trout have moved into the stream connecting the lakes. The early season is a likely time to get into some mackinaw in shallow water with crankbaits or large, flashy streamers. The bag and possession limit for mackinaw and/or splake in Lower Big Creek Lake is three, of which only one can exceed 26 inches.
Blue River (below Green Mountain Reservoir) — Tuesday morning’s volume rose to 1,700 cfs, up from last week. The river is essentially unwadable. The section holds its share of trout, some of which are large. Though some public access is available, much of the river courses through private property. Catch-and-release and flies-and-lures provisions are in effect for the river from the dam to the Colorado River.
Blue River (Dillon to Green Mtn. Res.) — With Dillon Reservoir spilling, Tuesday morning’s flow below the dam was 1,110 cfs, down a little from last week but still high. Wading is virtually impossible. Fishing is difficult but productive when sticking to the slower, softer pockets. The warmer water from the reservoir is heating up the water, thereby stimulating the insect life.
Colorado River (below Parshall) — Tuesday morning’s flows were 1,389 cfs at Parshall, below the Williams Fork confluence, and 3,430 near Kremmling, below the Blue River. Wading remains difficult. Visibility is adequate but not great. The Pteronarcys stonefly hatch is under way and good activity has been reported. Some caddis activity also has been reported.
Colorado River (Glenwood to Rifle) — The Colorado River has been flowing at 9,630 cfs in Glenwood Springs. The river is steadily dropping. Steelhead-sized rainbows have been caught with some regularity near Canyon Creek, No Name Creek and Big John’s in Glenwood Springs. Try large attractor nymph patterns: San Juan Worms, 20 Inchers, Cat Poops and Princes. Green drakes are likely to hatch in the next week or two and when that happens, the river will be off-the-charts good.
Colorado River (near Granby) — Flows on Sunday afternoon were 777 cfs from Windy Gap Reservoir and 1,298 cfs below Parshall. Copper Johns, RS-2s and other emerger patterns are doing well. Mosquitoes and other dry flies are working if a hatch is spotted. Stonefly season continues. Egg patterns and San Juan worms have been effective, and lure fishing also is good. 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. Inquire in Granby for the latest conditions.
Cowdrey Lake — Fishermen have enjoyed fairly good success trolling and fishing from shore with a variety of baits and lures. Standard limits and fishing regulations apply to Cowdrey Lake.
Crystal River — The Crystal River has been flowing around 1,210 cfs in Carbondale. Dry-dropper rigs are beginning to produce in the soft side-water pockets. Try a Stimi with a Pheasant Tail or caddisfly dropper. The best fishing has been from noon to dusk.
East Delaney Lake — Callibaetis mayflies and Chironomidae have been hatching virtually every day on all the “Sagebrush Lakes.” Callibaetis become active around 10 a.m. and continue for several hours. Nymphs can work all day; during the hatch, try an emerger below a dun. Late morning and evenings have been best for the Chironomidae. Suspend a size 16 below an indictor in 6-10 feet of water. All the Delaney Buttes Lakes have special fishing regulations. Check the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s regulations booklet before fishing.
Elk River — The Elk remains high, discolored and all but impossible to fish. Flows near Milner late Monday were around 2,590 cfs. Upper reaches also are high but likely to have clearer water.
Elkhead Reservoir — Elkhead is open to fishing and boating every day. The lake is spilling and the water is very muddy, with floating debris. Conditions are very typical for this time of year. The fishing is very slow because of cold temperatures and muddy conditions. It will be a few weeks before this lake turns on. If you get a chance to get out, try fishing baits that have good action close to the shore.
Frying Pan River — The Frying Pan has been fishing exceptionally well where the flows are at 325 cfs. Superb BWO hatches and PMD hatches are taking place from 12:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., followed by decent caddis hatches in the late afternoons and early evenings. Mysis shrimp are prevalent in good numbers immediately below the dam. Light fluorocarbon tippets of 6X and 7X are needed to be successful.
Expect the PMD hatch to increase weekly, as June always is a great month to fish along the Frying Pan. Crowds are still light, so hit the river now. The dry fly fishing has been top-notch, due in large part to the abundance of overcast weather.
Granby Reservoir — Pumping into Granby Reservoir from Willow Creek Reservoir and/or Windy Gap continues. Fishing from the bank has been good. Worms, Power Bait, eggs, lures and frozen baits all are being used. Fly fishing, trolling and jigging are working well. Sunset Point and Stillwater boat ramps are open. Boating inspections are conducted at Sunset Point from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. Ramps are open for nighttime use. Continued cool weather makes fishing very good. The water level is up. Good-sized lake trout are being caught from the banks as well as from boats. The largest reported was 35 pounds. Browns and rainbows are plentiful. Kokanee also have been caught. Arapaho Creek has been fishing well. Inquire in Granby for the latest conditions.
When it comes to the weather, fishermen are a little hard to please.