This Summer will continue to keep us guessing on the warmwater front! That said, the heat-to-rain roulette has given us great water levels, temps, and frontal activity to keep things fresh as we move into the dog days of summer. There are two major takeaways for August. If it is a typical August, fish early OR late, and fish deep. If we continue to see regular rain, then hang on for another month of Epic Warm Water fishing.
You could not ask for better conditions on the DSP! The intermittent rains and flow spikes are keeping temps down, food abundant and weed growth to a minimum. Carp fishing is at its best on the downward trend of rain spike. As edge clarity returns, you have just enough visibility to spot a tailing carp on the edges, feeding aggressively on the new foods that have entered in the rain flush. Structure is a big positive, and you can usually find fish working rock piles, submerged branches, discarded kitchen appliances, etc. Clarity is not perfect, and that is a good thing! While you will not be able to see every fish in the river, it is much less likely that they will see you, so you have more opportunity to get close and maximize the quality of your presentation. Big, heavy, and dark flies are necessary for the fish to see in the reduced clarity, and the presentation needs to be as close to the fish as possible for them to see in the stained water. Carp use these opportunities to take in a lot of calories without the fear of looming predators, so they tend to be exponentially less picky. As temps heat back up and clarity returns, Smallmouth fishing gets even better! Hot Summer Evenings are prime Smallmouth windows, and these fish are more aggressive than in the cooler months. Stripping flashy baitfish patterns and twitching crayfish around structure can yield some very high-quality smallmouth close to home.
Water Levels are high, and temps are perfect! We have seen enough of a cool-down in some ponds that Carp have begun a third spawn. It’s a mixed bag season on the smaller bodies of water on the Front Range. Panfish, Perch, Crappie, Bass, even the occasional Catfish are on the menu. Most of these species are highly structure-oriented, and as they settle into their summer norms, structure is the key. Stumps, trees, rock piles, etc. are likely holding fish. Sizing down your fly can increase your species count, and still produce big fish, as well. Topwater, while not as productive as in other parts of the country, can still be an effective, and way-more-fun way to target these fish. Small poppers, and even foam terrestrials with a head that pushes water on the strip can trigger some spectacular strikes. As the days heat up, and we find those HOT 90-100 degree days, begin to consider early mornings, late evenings, and NIGHT FISHING! Mid-summer is prime for night fishing, and all kinds of crazy things move into the shallows to feed under the cover of darkness. Stripping baitfish or leeches, even throwing poppers after the sun is down can yield some of the largest fish of the season.
Dawn Patrol is the name of the game for big water in the coming month. Those who get up early will be rewarded. In the early morning hours, from when light first is cast on our large lakes, until the sun is fully crested and hits the water is a magic reprieve from the usual summer slump, baitfish will concentrate close to shore. They will be particularly found along riprap dams in the early morning hours, just after light begins to break through. While a boat is ideal to chase the baitfish blitzes, it can be done from shore if you are patient enough to wait for the bait to come in. This is an excellent time to throw poppers and Smallmouth and Wiper, in particular, will respond. In most cases this window closes as soon as the sun fully hits the water. For the remainder of the day until dusk (you often get another window of topwater as the sun sets, but not as consistent as the early morning bite) sinking lines, and quick retrieves tend to produce the most eats. Catfish will also roam in these warm temps. While difficult to target exclusively, it can be a very welcome surprise.
Summer is the time to go explore Colorado outside of the usual mountain Trout destinations. You won’t have to fight I-70, crowded campgrounds, or Subaru-choked trailhead parking. Eastern and southern Colorado have infinite warmwater opportunities, and you may be the only one there with a fly rod in hand.
Trouts Denver is loaded with extra-juicy warmwater flies. We have arguably the largest and most impressive warmwater fly collection in the country! Please, swing by and check it out for yourself!