Trouts Journal

Combatting Runoff: Warmwater Edition

Ivan Orsic / Jun 1, 2017

Power, finesse, presentation, and sight fishing are just a couple of words that I would use to describe fly fishing for warmwater species. The Front Range is the spot for warm water fly fishing. Think outside the trout box, hone some new skills with the long rod and target some smart, powerful, and challenging fish. Within the city limits, Denver boasts an impressive 250 urban parks with nearly 6,000 acres of land. Many of these parks have ponds, creeks, and lakes within their limits and based on CPW stocking reports and personal experience, there are a ton of species to target within 30 minutes of downtown Denver. From aggressive toothy pike in Rocky Mountain Arsenal to the impressively sized carp of the Denver South Platte, there is no better time to explore the most local of waters than during spring runoff.


If you are anything like me, throwing streamers to aggressive trout is certainly time well spent. Why not up the ante and go after a fish that will eat an impressively sized streamer with reckless abandon. While the pike of Rocky Mountain Arsenal might not grow to the sizes of some of our larger mountain reservoirs (which by the way, looking for a beautiful setting to chase these toothy critters, look no further than Williams Fork Reservoir, 11 Mile Reservoir, Spinney Mountain Reservoir, and Stagecoach Reservoir), but no matter the size, a pike’s DNA remains the same and hammering flies is their DNA. Pike should be concentrating on the shallows after their spawn, bulking up before they head deep for the summer months. It’s hard to beat a large pike inhaling a big fly after following it for more than 20 feet. Remember that fishing in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal is only open on Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday and there is a $3 fishing fee.

Bass are always a great option in the Front Range. Chatfield Reservoir and Barrs Lake are great options. But, don’t be afraid to try your local ponds, as well. I’ve run into my fair share of good bass fishing while exploring the front range for carp on some unnamed lakes and ponds along the Clear Creek, Bear Creek and South Platte River corridors.


Do you want to see you backing? If the answer is yes, then carp are for you. Fly fishing for carp has taken hold of the Front Range with several of the sports innovators hailing from Denver. With good reason, carp are an amazingly strong and smart fish to chase on the fly. Carp of all sizes exist in and around the city in the Denver South Platte and Chatfield Reservoir. They will eat small crawdads, leeches, other warmwater forage, and sometimes dry flies. Some of the fisheries require long, delicate casts intersecting cruising fish on the flats (like bonefish) and other fisheries require short casts and that undefinable intuition that a carp ate your fly. Each carp fishery has it’s own little quirks and unique qualities. So, expand your horizons, get a little dirty, and you’ll become a better, more well-rounded angler. Sight fishing in dirty water for spooky carp can really improve your sight fishing skills when you head back to Deckers or one of our other local tailwaters!

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