Ice Off is arguably the best time to fish the lake inlets. An inlet is where the streams, rivers and channels that separate the main water from the bay enters the lake. After a long winter, the fish are hungry… very hungry, as they have been trapped under the ice for most of the winter months and the warming spring water temperatures are switching over the trout's metabolism. Ice off usually lasts about a week after the ice melts. The fish are eager to gain back the weight they have lost during the winter. As the ice melts off there is more oxygen in the water, which kick starts the fish, and gives them more energy to pursue food!
The inlets offer a great abundance of food because the winter runoff is bringing food out from the rivers and delivering to the mouths of inlets, to awaiting hungry fish. Also in the spring, you will have Rainbow, Cutthroat and Golden trout spawning in the streams and rivers above and their eggs will be washed downstream. When fishing an inlet there will be moving water, you will fish it like the river by throwing your flies up current and letting it drift back down towards the lake. Eggs, worms and just about any other nymphs work well at this time! It is also a great time to throw a streamer on the end of your line. Woolly Buggers, Sculpin, and any small baitfish imitations work well and might attract the bigger fish that are in the inlets feeding on the smaller fish.
Turn over usually occurs a few weeks after ice off. The warmer water at the lower levels of the lake mixes with the colder surface water. Wind helps with this process until the lake settles at a neutral temperature. As the days grow longer and the outside temperature rises, the warmest water will settle on the surface. Chironomids and midges work well at this time. Adjusting depths and letting your flies swing at the end of your drifts usually work well. If it is a big snow year, the rivers and streams runoff will last longer and so will the good fishing, as the river will continue to bring in nutrients and a variety of food into the lake.
LATE SPRING/EARLY SUMMER
During the late spring and early summer in the High Rockies of Colorado, fly fisherman will encounter hatches of BWO, PMD, Callibaetis, Caddis, Midges, and Damselflies. In the areas where there is a weedy bottom and vegetation growth, it is smart to try scuds and leeches. Also, drop offs just past the banks are a great place to dead drift some nymphs, as the fish like to hang out a little deeper on the sunny days. As temperatures rise and streams and rivers lose their power from the runoff, the fish usually move deeper and out of the Inlets. Fishing will slow down immensely and it is a good time to go hit the main rivers and high alpine lakes!