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Trouts Journal

Snowpack Update - 4/19/23

Tucker Ladd / Apr 19, 2023

The 2022/2023 winter will go down in the record books as one of the snowiest winters Colorado has seen in the past 30+ years. And while we’re all ready for a reprieve from the cold and dormant winter months, it’s relieving and encouraging to see the abundance of water currently sitting in the Colorado high country. As of today, our mountain snowpack stands at 131% of the 30-year historical average which is noted in the snowpack map below.

While western Colorado is certainly fairing better than its eastern counterpart, these numbers are ultimately very encouraging as we head into our pending runoff season. In the end, this is a far cry from where we were almost a year ago when snowpack levels across Colorado were far less than what we are experiencing today as noted in the below map.

And while snowpack levels are a telling sign of the past winter, these numbers are only part of the story. As I noted in my last Snowpack Update, snow hydrologists use a scientific measurement called Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) to determine the amount of water that rests in the mountain snowpack. As you can see from the graph below, our mountain snowpack officially peaked on April 7th at 21.9” of SWE (snow water equivalent).

As the graph above also notes, our peak snowpack was followed by a sharp decline that resulted from the unseasonably warm weather we experienced over the last couple of weeks across the state. From here it’s all up to mother nature regarding how fast or slow our snowpack comes down, and the cooler extended forecast is certainly showing signs that our mountain snow will be staying put for the foreseeable future. Once we begin to see more consistent warm temperatures, particularly in our mountain regions, we will enter into our annual runoff season. During this time, this water will begin flowing down our state's rivers, providing Colorado and its neighboring states with this essential resource to get us through the summer months.

So what does this all translate to in terms of current fishing conditions? While we have seen a short-term spike in river levels, these will come down with the forecasted cooler temperatures providing ideal fishing conditions on most Colorado rivers. The initial bump in flows was a nice reminder to our fishy friends that the pending runoff season is about to begin, triggering aggressive feeding behaviors that help prepare our resident trout for the coming influx in river flows. Freestone rivers will be a great option for this time of year, as most tailwaters will be running lean while state water managers fill up our mountain holding ponds (a.k.a reservoirs). Also, this is the time of year to put away your midge box and smaller tippets, as fish will be feeding aggressively and keying in on larger flies and streamers. Nymphing is going to be your best bet, with larger flies like Stoneflies, Worms, and Eggs as your lead fly, trailed with any variety of general attractor patterns. Streamers are also a great bet for this time of year, as the predatory nature of fish currently will certainly produce some exciting eats.

As always Trouts is here to help get you out on the water, so before you head out on the water be sure to stop by either of our store locations or hit us up online for the most recent and compressive river reports and stream flows. Our professional fly fishing guides are also available if you’re looking for some added expertise and assistance, or even better to have someone row you down one of our state's legendary streams. I’ll be sure to provide necessary updates as our runoff season kicks into high gear, but as always feel free to reach out to our expert staff for any insight or assistance.

Kind regards,

Tucker Ladd


Owner, Trouts Fly Fishing

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