Trouts Journal

Top Ten Places to Fish During Runoff in Colorado

Ivan Orsic / May 25, 2017

So, Spring Runoff is almost here. Fly fishing during spring runoff can prove to be some of the most productive fishing of the year. With that in mind, here is our Top 10 Places to Fish During Spring Runoff in Colorado (in no particular order).

1. South Platte River at Deckers & Cheesman

We consider this stretch of the South Platte our home waters and this is one of our favorite times to be on the water. While other rivers flows are beginning to climb, the South Platte is holding at a very fishable flow, so go take advantage of that. However, we do know the water is coming, it’s just a matter of when. When that happens don’t let the big flows scare you away; elevated flows knock loose a wide range of food for trout to gorge themselves on. Trout concentrate in the softer water and will eat San Juan Worms, Stoneflies, Scuds and other big bugs with reckless abandon. It’s always entertaining to fish these waters during runoff and watch the normally selective and picky fish hammer the big bugs.

2. Blue River at Silverthorne

Dillon Reservoir has Mysis Shrimp and is a bottom release dam. The Blue River at Silverthorne is filled with large rainbow trout who just so happen to love mysis shrimp, as any self respecting trout should. When the flows are elevated out of Dillon Reservoir, the trout of the Blue River focus on these high-protein food sources. With trophy trout only an hour and fifteen minutes out of Denver, the Blue River at Silverthorne should be on your spring runoff hitlist.

3. Spinney Mountain Reservoir

Filled with hungry rainbow and brown trout, Spinney Mountain Reservoir is a great stillwater option, especially during the high water of spring. Fish will cruise shallows, weed beds, big dropoffs, and the inlet searching for sizable food offerings. Working streamers, crawdads or nymph rigs for fish up to and over the 20 inch mark doesn’t sound like a bad time to us and it shouldn’t to you either..

4. Colorado HIGH COUNTRY!

The snow is melting in Colorado’s High Country which means that our high mountain lakes will start to ice off. There is no better time to target trophy high mountain lake fish than during runoff. So, stretch those legs, explore the Collegiates, San Juans, The Flattops, or Rocky Mountain National Park, and have a chance at some of the best high mountain lake fishing you can find anywhere in the world.

5. Antero Reservoir

Antero Reservoir will be re-opening on June 5th. After being drained in 2015, this fertile lake is being re-opened a year ahead of schedule. Fishing from shore, kayaks, belly boats, float tubes, and canoes will be permitted. Historically, this has been a super productive fishery and we are excited to have this option back in the cards for the 2017 fishing season.

6. Front Range Warmwaters

Carp, bass, pike, trout, panfish, catfish, and who knows what else are all viable options during late spring into early summer here on the Front Range. Whether it’s fishing at your neighborhood pond down the street, one of the bigger reservoirs (Chatfield, Cherry Creek, Standley Lake, and Barr’s Lake), or the famous Denver South Platte, these warmwater fish will test your angling skills and your gear.

7. South Platte River at 11 Mile & The Dream Stream

High water on the South Platte means fish tend to let their guard down, so fishing big leeches, craneflies, and scuds can be super productive to the normally picky trout of 11 Mile and The Dream Stream. Brown Trout can be a little timid during spring and summer, but when high water hits, that extra color in the water lets them feel at home and makes them more catchable for the angler.

8. High Country Pike

Stagecoach, 11 Mile, and Williams Fork Reservoirs are all great options for pike in the early summer. Pike will come off of the spawn and are ready to put some weight back on. Blind casting or sight fishing shallow bays, weed bed edges, and drop offs can result in violent takes and potentially state record fish in each of these reservoirs. Get your bite wire tippet out and your stout 8 weight and chase these piscivorous fish on the fly. You won’t regret it!

9. Upper & Middle Colorado River

As long the flows on the Colorado River doesn’t bump too fast, the Colorado River can be a great fishing option during spring runoff. Throwing big stoneflies or big streamers to cutbanks and soft-water from a boat or shore can result in some of the best freestone fishing of the year. Once you find one trout, fish that same seam or water for the next 30 minutes. Where there’s one freestone runoff trout, there’s bound to be 40 more.

10. Williams Fork River

The two-mile tailwater section of Williams Fork River is a great option, especially during higher water. If fishing to sizeable, hard fighting rainbow and brown trout eating stoneflies, caddis, and mayflies sounds like a good time to you, then make this ½ mile walk into this beautiful stretch of water and you won’t be disappointed.

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