From the desk of Trouts' Tucker Ladd
As we head into the second month of 2023, snow-covered streets and consistent sub-freezing temperatures are stark reminders that we are in the midst of yet another Colorado winter season. Most recently the annual bellwether of winter forecasting, good ‘ole Punxsutawney Phil, woke up yesterday morning and saw his shadow, signaling another 2 months of winter to come. While the news of an extended Winter certainly contrasts with the inevitable off-season thoughts of bent rods and time on the water with friends, we all have to be mindful that our winters are a necessary evil to the pastime we all cherish and enjoy.
In the end, winter snow translates to water in our state's rivers come spring and summer, and I’m happy to report that our current statewide snowpack is showing promising signs of a productive season on the horizon. As you can see from the snowpack map below, we are at above-average snowpack levels throughout a majority of Colorado, with most river basins reporting well over median historic values.
Even better news is that the Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) of our statewide snowpack is at levels that we have not seen in years. The graph below shows our statewide SWE levels for the past 30 years, and you can see that we are currently tracking well above the 30-year median average, which is an encouraging sign at this time of year.
It’s fair to say that these are certainly encouraging levels for the beginning of February, but it is by no means a guarantee that we are out of the drought pattern we have seen in the Rocky Mountain West for the past few years. Every winter will undoubtedly throw some curve balls our way, as we witnessed firsthand last year when similar snowpack levels were depleted rapidly during the second half of our winter season. This was mostly due to a La Niña winter that produced below-average snowfall, as well as unseasonably warm spring winds that helped zap our snowpack of valuable water content.
The good news from here is that forecasting models have been predicting that the 2022/2023 winter should be wetter than the past couple of years, and I think we can all agree that this has held true thus far. The upcoming weekend and following week hold slight chances for snowfall depending on where you are in the Colorado high country, and we are looking at a more likely chance for a measurable storm cycle to roll through the state around the middle of February. From there weather patterns are more unpredictable, so we’ll have to wait and see how the month of February closes out, and how the wetter months of the year-end up materializing.
While the upcoming forecast of clear skies and warmer weather is a departure from what we have been experiencing so far in 2023, it does lend itself to more ideal conditions for those looking to get out on the water. We are still in that time of year when tailwaters will be our primary fisheries, but certain rivers like the South Platte and Arkansas will provide some fishable water at lower elevations. Keep in mind that you will inevitably encounter lower water conditions no matter where your end destination is, which means that this is prime time to hone your sight fishing skills. It just so happens that our own Ivan Orsic just posted an informative blog post on 14 Tips for Improving Your Sight Fishing Game for Trout, so before you head out be sure to give this a read to up your winter fishing game. And as always our friendly staff is always available in-store or online to assist you with anything you need to get out on the water.
I’ll be sure to offer another snowpack update as conditions dictate, but in the meantime, I hope that all of our customers get out to enjoy the great snow this winter has provided or has a chance to enjoy some winter fishing while the getting is good.