Author: Tucker Ladd
There’s no denying it now, Colorado is in for a tough summer of low water. It’s hard to imagine that a year ago we were looking at a reversal of this dilemma, with a massive snow pack and swollen rivers. Yet it is time we all come to terms with the current situation and the reality that Colorado's rivers are going to be lean in comparison to last year. But while the press and others want to make this out to be a doom and gloom situation for fisherman, I wanted to offer an alternative explanation with a more optimistic outlook.
A diminished snow pack has left us with a minimal runoff, and while this may not be ideal for the whitewater community, it is great for anglers and fish alike. Sure, runoff is a needed and healthy cleansing cycle for our rivers, but after last years historic runoff season I think we’ll all enjoy and appreciate a summer without dangerously high rivers and un-fishable conditions.
Currently we are experiencing some of the best early season fishing we’ve seen in a number of years. Insects have been hatching earlier than normal, and the fish are reacting by feeding aggressively on this early bounty. Throughout most of the state, we’re already seeing great Caddis and Stonefly hatches, and we’re already getting plentiful reports of great dry fly action on many freestone and tailwater fisheries. Over the course of the next few weeks we’ll start to see PMD’s, Stoneflies and Drakes making their annual appearance, as well as the beginning of some ideal hopper fishing.
The blunt message here is don’t wait until July to pull out your fishing gear, because by then you will have missed some great early season action.
The unfortunate truth is that all good things will eventually come to an end, and by late July we will see decreased productivity in the fishing on many of our favorite rivers. Continued low water will lead to increased water temperatures, and this will ultimately put the fish down during the warmer parts of the day (i.e. 11am – 4pm). Will there still be fishing to be had? Absolutely, it just won’t be nearly as good as we’re seeing right now.
But just because fishing on some rivers won’t be ideal doesn’t mean all is lost. We can expect to see great fishing throughout the summer in a number of areas, a lot of which are not on the radar of most anglers:
High Country Lakes and Streams – probably one of my most cherished places to fish, the Colorado High Country offers a near limitless amount of fishing options. From high country creeks, to meandering mountain meadow streams, to high elevation lakes, there are a lot of options for those willing to search them out.
Denver Area Ponds and Reservoirs – while you won’t find trout populating many of our local ponds, lakes and reservoirs, you will find a great variety of warm water species that are all willing to eat a well presented fly. Small and large mouth bass, pike, carp, wipers, walleye, bluegill and crappie will all inhabit some if not all of our local still water fisheries, and the heat of the summer can be one of the best times to target these species.
The Denver South Platte – considered the “home water” of Trout’s Fly Fishing, the Denver South Platte (DSP) is a unique fishery offering anglers a variety of fish species. Over the course of the past few years, carp have proven to be the game fish of choice in the DSP, but anglers in the know have learned that there is plenty more fish lurking below the surface of this urban fishery. Trout, small mouth bass, walleye are all species that can be found in the DSP, you’ve just got to know where to look.
Idaho, Wyoming and Montana – not every state in the West is experiencing the low water conditions that Colorado is, so consider this a great year to load up the car and make a journey North. From big rivers to float, to backcountry areas to explore, to Namesake Rivers to experience, there are plenty of angling options in the states surrounding Colorado. If you plan on making this pilgrimage, be sure and give the shop a call so we can offer you some of our Trout’s Approved Outfitters to seek out for some added fishing advice and expertise.
Tailwaters - our winter salvation will also be our mid-summer savior this year. While river flows will be low, reservoir levels are currently above average and we can expect good fishing on all of our states namesake tailwater fisheries. Consistent flows and water temperatures will ensure that the fish in these areas will be happy, healthy, and most importantly, feeding! Do be sure to check river flows before you head out, as certain fisheries will be more productive throughout the course of the summer season. As always, feel free to give the shop a call for the latest reports and conditions.
Ultimately every summer is unique and dynamic in terms of fishing options and general productivity. There is never anything consistent about our weather or water conditions, so it is important to learn to be flexible and creative in choosing where and how you fish. This summer is going to reinforce this idea, as those anglers willing to think outside the box will have a wonderful and productive fishing experience. As usual, Trout’s is here to ensure that all of our customers maximize their time on the water, so be sure to come to us with any questions or concerns you may have about fishing in the coming months.
- Tucker Ladd