Author: Trouts Staff
Located on the South East side of the Holy Cross Wilderness lies Homestake Reservoir. Built by the cities of Aurora and Colorado Springs in the 1960’s, Homestake Reservoir collects water from the Homestake Creek drainage, and transports it over to Turquoise Lake on the East side of the Continental Divide. From there it is transported to Twin Lakes Reservoir where it’s released into the Arkansas River, bringing much needed drinking water to the front range. At over 200 ft. deep, 1 mile long and about 1/4 mile wide, Homestake Reservoir is a large body of water that offers some great fly fishing opportunities. Yet because of its location in steep mountain valley, the reservoir is almost impossible to access by foot, and most of the good angling opportunities are limited to those with a boat (canoe, row boat, belly boat, pontoon boat, etc.).
I have personally been exploring the Homestake Creek area for over a decade, but had never ventured to the top of the valley to where Homestake Reservoir is located. Since I was totally new to the area, and wasn’t quite sure what to expect, our trip there was conceived as more of a exploratory adventure than a hard core fishing trip.
The plan was simple; we would paddle a canoe to the south side of the reservoir where we would set up camp and fish for a couple of days. From the research I had done, this appeared to be the only section of the valley that had suitable camping, and with numerous creeks flowing into the reservoir on that side, it seemed a likely spot to find some good fishing.
Upon our arrival to the reservoir though, it became blatantly obvious that there was one vital piece of information that we failed to check before coming; the water level. To our surprise and disappointment, Homestake was only about 1/2 full. This not only created a less scenic vista, but is also became clear that it was going to make it much more difficult to get to a suitable camp spot. But with the canoe rented, the gear packed, and our hopes still high, we launched our boat to see what Homestake Reservoir was all about.
The trip to the South end of the reservoir was shortened by the low water, but it was still a pleasant float across a beautiful high country lake. The few extra pounds of yellow lab and beers that we pack along made the going a bit slow, but enjoyable non the less. After speaking with some guys at the put in who had had good success trolling, I went ahead and rigged a streamer rod with a full sink line that would be suitable to tow behind the boat. I tied on a heavy, flashy streamer that I hoped would get down to the fish, but after an hour in the water I had no takers.
At this point it was becoming clear that something was off. I never go into a new area expecting to catch dozens of fish, but it didn’t make sense that we weren’t seeing any fish cruising or rising. All I can figure now is that the low levels of the reservoir had effected the population of insects, and had sent the fish to the depths of the reservoir to find food and protection.
Beat but not broken, we retreated to camp for a nice evening at camp by the fire. We awoke the following day and packed up and headed home. The previous days lack of success left us both unmotivated to fish very hard, and the looming storm clouds to our west were a good reminder that an afternoon thunderstorm was inevitable. Yet on our paddle back, the beauty of our surroundings was a stark reminder of why a day on the water is better than a day doing most anything else. There’s no doubt that I will be headed back to Homestake, but I can guarantee you that this time I’ll be watching the water levels like a hawk.