Trouts Journal

Colorado Snowpack Update - 5/25/22 Edition

Tucker Ladd / May 25, 2022

From the desk of Trouts' Tucker Ladd

As a Colorado native of 41 years, I can say that I have never experienced a snow storm this late into May in the Denver Front Range area. Sure, mountain snow is always a possibility during the spring, but the amount of snow we received this past weekend was unprecedented. And while the turn in the weather, the loss of many trees, and subsequent property damage was unfortunate, there is a silver lining to this bout of spring moisture.

Prior to this weekend most of the communication related to our annual snowpack was grim at best. I won’t contest that our state’s snowpack isn’t where we would like to see it. As you can see from the following graphic, the months of April and May have taken a toll on our snowpack by offering below-average snow/rain and bringing unseasonably warm winds across the state.

This combination had the unfortunate effect of depleting our state's snowpack much faster than anticipated. Now, we are looking at a below-average scenario for all of Colorado as we move into Spring and Summer. Yet, despite what you hear on the news and read online, all is not lost for the coming summer season. First, as this past weekend has reminded us, any and all precipitation that we get during the spring and summer season is as helpful as winter snow. So, while many hope for weekends of hot sunny weather, the occasional periods of moisture are just what we need at this time. Second, unlike other Rocky Mountain states, Colorado has an elaborate inventory of reservoirs across the state that allow us to weather these low-snowpack years better than states with less or minimal reservoir capacity. This is because with reservoirs we can “control” runoff to an extent, by withholding some downflowing water in reservoirs instead of letting everything head downstream. This allows us to help ensure we have water in July and August, and not be in a situation where rivers need to be closed due to drastically low flows.

Now let me be clear that I am not insinuating that this coming summer fishing season isn’t going to be tough at times due to low water. Like other low water years, we will inevitably have to ask for voluntary closures on certain rivers at certain times of the summer. Rivers like the Colorado, Roaring Fork, Eagle, and other freestone rivers will most likely hit a period where we need to be getting off the water by 2 PM to ensure the fish are safe and protected. But while one river will be low and warm, there will be many other options that we can all partake in, such as tailwaters, high country lakes and streams, and a plethora of warm water fisheries.

Having lived, fished, and worked through many drought summers, I can tell you that those that are unwilling to try something new will often find themselves looking for activities other than fishing. But, those willing to think outside the box, try something new or somewhere new, will be looking forward to an amazing summer of Colorado fly fishing. One of the unique qualities of Colorado is the plethora of species we can chase with the fly rod in hand. In addition to trout, we have largemouth and smallmouth bass, pike, muskie, wipers, walleye, catfish, carp, bluegill, and crappie. And in addition to the broad mix of fish species, Colorado also plays host to endless high country options for anglers to explore.

I will close by noting that as anglers, we have a special relationship and understanding of our reliance on winter snow to feed our state's rivers and streams. As such, it is important for all of us to lead by example in minimizing our use of water when possible. Things like limiting the watering of your lawn, planting native plants and grasses that don’t require so much water, to taking shorter showers are all things that we can do to help ensure more water stays in our rivers, lakes, and reservoirs.

So, come by one of our two locations, visit us online, or give us a call, as Trouts is here to ensure your time on the water is as successful and meaningful as possible.


Tucker Ladd

Owner, Trouts Fly Fishing

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