Trouts Journal

2013 Snowpack Update

Ivan Orsic / Mar 27, 2013

Denver Water has just announced that Stage 2 Watering Restrictions are going to go into effect April 1, 2013. Essentially, this will limit the number of days per week households are allowed to water their lawns. While this announcement may sound alarming to many residents and anglers alike, we at Trout’s would like to “clear the air” so to speak and elaborate on exactly what this ultimately means for our 2013 spring/summer fishing season.

You don’t have to live in Colorado (or the West that matter) very long to realize that the amount of snow we get each winter directly correlates to how much water will be running through our rivers come summer. In the past 5 years Colorado has seen dramatic swings in our winter snowpack; a record setting 2011 where we experienced levels upwards of 200% of average, to a dismal 2012 where we witnessed record low snowpack across the state. Looking forward now to Summer, we are actually in much better position than many media and water managers would like you to believe. As of March 27, our statewide snowpack sits at 79% of average, with many river basins in the 80%+ range. Considering that this time last year we were looking at numbers in the 50%-60% range, I’d have to say that our current snowpack seems pretty good.

One thing that these numbers don’t mention, which is why we are going to be limited in our ability to water lawns this summer, is reservoir capacity. During the 2012 summer, water managers used a substantial amount of water from our high country reservoirs to make up for the lack of snowmelt, which ultimately enabled us to enjoy a great summer of fishing despite record low snowpack. Fast-forward to 2013, and we are now facing very low reservoir levels, and not enough snow to fill them come spring to meet standard demand from the Denver Front Range. So to be prudent and safe, Denver Water will be limiting the amount of water they draw out of their holding ponds to ensure we have adequate water should we continue to see less than average snowpack in coming years. Simply put, this move is about smart water management, and it has little to do with what our summer fishing season will look like.

These limited releases from reservoirs will have an impact on some fisheries. Rivers like the Blue, Williams Fork and subsequently the Upper Colorado River will see less than average flows for much of the summer. At the same time, Front Range streams like South Boulder Creek, North Fork of the South Platte and the South Platte should see great river levels as Denver Water moves resources to the Front Range; freestone rivers across the state should see ideal flows for anglers, but less than ideal for the whitewater boating community (sorry guys). In short, we anticipate the 2013 fishing season to be long due to limited runoff, full of epic hatches, and most importantly hungry fish.

If you have any questions regarding anything in this post, please don’t hesitate to comment below, give the shop a call at 877-464-0034, or email us at


Tucker Ladd

Owner, Trout’s Fly Fishing

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