Spring is slowly making its way into the High Country and frozen fly-fishermen are thawing out as higher temperatures and warm sunshine finally arrive in Summit County and beyond. As we all know, Colorado has had a banner year for snow, which is fantastic news for boaters, fishers, hikers and everyone else who loves a beautiful and verdant state to enjoy. If you had the chance to ski, those days aren’t gone – but more and more people are starting to swap out their ski poles for fishing poles, and for good reason. Pre-runoff fishing in the high country is one of the best times to be out there. This is true not only because voracious fish are starting to see more food in the water, but also because there are fewer fishermen than in the high summer. You’ll also find ideal water levels now before the snow starts to come down the mountains in full force. When it does, you can bet the white-water rafters are going to be happy, but fishermen will need to get technical. There could be a boatload of water in store this runoff season (forgive the pun). What we would like to see is a long, gradual warming with bumps of cold weather rather than a couple weeks of hot weather… fingers crossed!
The ideal weather conditions to look out for are, perhaps paradoxically, cooler weather patterns. The spring runoff slows during this period and the water clears up and fishes very nicely. A few cool days and you will have excellent conditions on the Blue or the Colorado for the same reasons. Dillon and Green Mountain Reservoirs water levels change frequently, so be sure to check out the levels as they may be unpredictable, but it will most likely be a while before they do any large releases. As far as high water below the dams is concerned you shouldn’t have much to fear in the near future. Also, the Colorado River is fishing very nicely right now. Be sure to check out our latest reports on the website for the latest conditions and flies that are working.
The biggest “X Factor” to deal with is the weather, and it can change very quickly. I was nearly blown off the river last weekend, but you can still have a good day by being more strategic in your location on the river and working the wind to your advantage. Make sure to be prepared for wind, cold, snow, rain and everything in between. If you get a hot day, prepare for the waters to color up a bit – it’s at this point you should up the size of your fly and try out your favorite streamer, pats rubber leg or other large nymphs. You might start to see some action on the surface, so keep an eye out for small hatches in the afternoons. Don’t be afraid of “nasty” days, however. This only means more open water, and the weather can always change quickly for the better.
If you decide to get out there on a hot day and the river is rising, don’t worry. There will always be feeding trout if you know where to look. Check out my blog from last year that details some tips on how to take advantage of the high water: https://fishcolorado.com/about/cutthroat-anglers-blog/spring-runoff-and-blown-out-rivers.
While river fishing is always a good time, don’t underestimate our local lakes right after “ice off.” It’s now you get inversion, or “lake turnover,” that brings food to the shore and gets huge hungry trout cruising the banks. Delaney Lakes, while a decent drive, is gold medal fisheries and can provide some of the best fishing in the state. The legendary 11-mile reservoir is always going to be good this time of year. Drifting chironomids is the classic way to fish these areas, and they are much more dependable in any weather compared to the local rivers. Having a boat is ideal – but you should be able to reach out to these trout from shore if you aren’t facing right into the wind. These large trout are the easier to catch this time of year as they are close to shore, so prepare for some big boys if you make it out there. Big nets and tippets are highly recommended.
Finally, we’re approaching spawning season for the rainbows, cutthroat, and cutbows. This makes egg patterns a good fly to try in most conditions. As always, be careful of spawning beds, or “redds,” and please don’t bother any actively spawning trout. This is tempting – but these fish are defenseless and trying to ensure future generations of trout for all of us to enjoy. The good news? After spawning these fish will need to increase their calories and can become voracious. This is when you will start seeing huge fish pulled out of the rivers, and this is the chance for you to hook the fish of a lifetime.
If you are an avid fisherman, I don’t have to convince you that now is a great time to visit and check out our local waters. Stop by the shop for the latest and greatest flies, equipment and advice before heading out. Don’t forget that you have to get new fishing licenses if you haven’t already. And finally, if you are thinking about doing a guided trip – this is the summer to do it. The water is going to be excellent late into the season and spots are already booking up. Don’t delay—get in touch now about booking an incredible trip out on some of Colorado’s greatest fishing streams. Fly fishing is a great gift that few people can enjoy. Our experienced and trusted guides will give you an adventure you won’t forget. We hope to see you soon!
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