Author: Trout's Staff
Our attempt at literary pieces to help our fellow anglers.
Recently I had a humbling experience on a to Cheesman Canyon, one that will forever change the way I prepare for a long winter day of fishing. It was mid week in January, and I was in need of a good day on the water. Feeling that a long walk, and some great scenery would do me well, I headed out to the upper stretches of Cheesman Canyon. Normally I would always walk in from the bottom lot, seeing as the hike in is much more manageable (especially since they rebuilt the upper trail). But that day seemed like a good day to get out and hike and clear my head. The weather that day was supposed to be mild and sunny, with a high around 45 degrees; all in all a perfect day to spend fishing my favorite stretch of river.
The morning started out slow, with only a couple fish to hand. My game plan was to start at the very top of the canyon and fish my way down stream. By about noon, I had reached Schoonover Gulch, about 1/4 mile from the top. I was eying a nice looking pool, but I knew there was no way to fish it productively from the side of the river I was on. Determined to find some feeding fish, I searched for a good spot to cross. After spotting a shallow looking section, I made my way down the steep canyon slope and proceeded to cross. The flows in the canyon that day were around 200 cfs, so I wasn’t concerned that wading across the river would prove to be daunting or treacherous.
Today, The Denver Post reported that the snowpack in Colorado was at 86% of historical average. This doesn’t really come as a surprise, for anybody whose been to the high country lately has witnessed a very obvious lack of snow for this time of year. Although a dry winter like this doesn’t bode well for skiers, many anglers wonder what effect it will have on our summer fishing season? Most people will draw a doom and gloom reaction to this news, making it seem like we’re in for another summer like 2002. I would challenge that mindset and encourage everybody to look at our current situation from another stand point.
First, 86% snowpack for this time of year isn’t that bad. When you look at a historical table of Colorado snowpacks dating back to 1968, you’ll see that there are many other years where the statewide snowpack was much lower in February than 86%. For example, if you analyze historical February snowpack averages (see below) you’ll see that since 1968 there have been numerous years where the snowpack has been well below our current level.