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Spring 2011 Runoff Update | June 18, 2011

June 18, 2011
Author: Tucker Ladd

Well we're now into the latter part of June, and river's across the state are still flowing at exceptionally high levels.  The Southern part of the state is starting to see flows subside, while the Central and Northern Mountains are still experiencing high flows and off color water.  So the common question lately in the shop has been, "when can we expect flows to start dropping?".  While my magic ball in for repairs, I will do my best to give you all the most educated guess I can.  Currently our statewide snowpack is at a staggering 252% of average!  (You can click here to view a full map of all major river basin snowpacks).  And keep in mind that this number is a statewide average.  Here's a breakdown of snowpack averages for Colorado's major river basins:

  • Arkansas River Basin - 122%
  • Colorado River Basin - 268%
  • Gunnison River Basin - 218%
  • North Platte River Basin - 350%
  • Rio Grande Rive Basin - 65%
  • South Platte River Basin - 440%
  • San Miguel River Basin - 62%
  • Yampa/White River Basin - 235%

When you see numbers like this, it's fair to say that we are most likely in for one of the longer runoff's in recent memory.  But there is a silver lining to this whole situation.  These high river flows are scouring our rivers of unwanted sentiment, and will ultimately make them much more healthy and vibrant for years to come.  In addition, we will most likely not see low river flows and high water temperatures in August and early September that traditionally have really slowed the productivity of fishing.  Instead, we will most likely see healthy river flows and cooler water temperatures all the way into fall.  So what we may be losing in fishing time in the early summer, we will undoubtedly make up for it with a memorable late summer and early fall fishing season.

So While the long term outlook is favorable, I do realize that most anglers are ultimately wondering about the short term forecast.  Again, I can only speculate, but from conversations I've had with guides and outfitters from across the state, I think things will turn around at varying times depending on local.  For the Southern part of the state, I think things will begin to make a turn for the better by the end of next week.  Snowpacks are much lower in this region, and I feel it is safe to say that this area will be the first to see fishable flows and conditions.  For the central and Northern parts of the state, I want to say that things will start to be fishable around the 4th of July Weekend.  We've been seeing higher daytime temperatures, which is helping expedite the snowmelt process.  And while we will most likely see snow in the high county all summer long, I do think that by early July we will see a majority of the snow melted off and flowing through the states rivers.

Well we're now into the latter part of June, and river's across the state are still flowing at exceptionally high levels.  The Southern part of the state is starting to see flows subside, while the Central and Northern Mountains are still experiencing high flows and off color water.  So the common question lately in the shop has been, "when can we expect flows to start dropping?".  While my magic ball in for repairs, I will do my best to give you all the most educated guess I can.  Currently our statewide snowpack is at a staggering 252% of average!  (You can click here to view a full map of all major river basin snowpacks).  And keep in mind that this number is a statewide average.  Here's a breakdown of snowpack averages for Colorado's major river basins:

  • Arkansas River Basin - 122%
  • Colorado River Basin - 268%
  • Gunnison River Basin - 218%
  • North Platte River Basin - 350%
  • Rio Grande Rive Basin - 65%
  • South Platte River Basin - 440%
  • San Miguel River Basin - 62%
  • Yampa/White River Basin - 235%

When you see numbers like this, it's fair to say that we are most likely in for one of the longer runoff's in recent memory.  But there is a silver lining to this whole situation.  These high river flows are scouring our rivers of unwanted sentiment, and will ultimately make them much more healthy and vibrant for years to come.  In addition, we will most likely not see low river flows and high water temperatures in August and early September that traditionally have really slowed the productivity of fishing.  Instead, we will most likely see healthy river flows and cooler water temperatures all the way into fall.  So what we may be losing in fishing time in the early summer, we will undoubtedly make up for it with a memorable late summer and early fall fishing season.

So While the long term outlook is favorable, I do realize that most anglers are ultimately wondering about the short term forecast.  Again, I can only speculate, but from conversations I've had with guides and outfitters from across the state, I think things will turn around at varying times depending on local.  For the Southern part of the state, I think things will begin to make a turn for the better by the end of next week.  Snowpacks are much lower in this region, and I feel it is safe to say that this area will be the first to see fishable flows and conditions.  For the central and Northern parts of the state, I want to say that things will start to be fishable around the 4th of July Weekend.  We've been seeing higher daytime temperatures, which is helping expedite the snowmelt process.  And while we will most likely see snow in the high county all summer long, I do think that by early July we will see a majority of the snow melted off and flowing through the states rivers.

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