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Trouts Journal

Trouts Warmwater Fly Fishing Forecast | July 2021 Edition

Rick Mikesell / Jul 5, 2021

We finally made it!! Summer is here and warmwater fishing is at its best. The coming month will be the absolute best time to experience the myriad of species the CO Front Range has to offer. All species are post-spawn, and enjoying ideal water temps. If ambient air temps heat up again, we may see a bit of a slowdown. But, if we settle in a consistent monsoon pattern and continue to see afternoon thunderstorms, and occasional cool fronts, July will be prime for the adventurous angler.

The Denver South Platte River (AKA…the DSP)

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 visiblity 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 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 than usual. 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.

Small Lakes and Ponds:

It’s 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, rockpiles, etc are likely holding fish. Sizing down your fly can increase your species count, and still produce big fish as well. While not as productive as in other parts of the country, topwater flies can still be an effective and super 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°F days, begin to consider early mornings, late evenings, and NIGHT FISHING! Early to 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!

Small Lakes and Ponds:

The old adage goes; The two happiest days in a sailor's life are the day he buys a boat and the day he sells it….While a constant drain on your pocketbook, and free time, boats are THE most effective way to fish large water through the summer. With stable temps, fish are free to roam to where the food is, and you can be limited standing on the bank. Most CO impoundments are small craft friendly (Safety Note: big water, wind/thunderstorms and small boats do not mix. Be careful and be aware of the weather!) and the ability to move to structure, varied depths, and in an ideal world, chase bait, will give you the edge. Pelagic Species like wiper and white bass are constantly following bait, looking for Birds and busting bait, is the easiest way to pattern their location. Bass will translate to submerged structure, and working back bays around piles, trees, humps, essentially any break from flat bottom will produce vass in appropriate impoundments. For reservoirs with carp, the shallow flats that form when sediment is pushed in from creek mouths can be flush with tailing fish all day. The ability to approach stealthy in a boat, and either hop out and wade, or, if your boat is capable, quietly pole these flats can give you the experience of gulf coast redfishing within an hour’s drive of Denver!

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….

Rick's Flies for March Warm Water

Trouts Denver is loaded for bear with extra juicy warmwater flies. We have likely the biggest and most impressive warmwater fly collection in the Country! Please swing by and check it out for yourself!

Carp: Morlock's Carp Breakfast



Bass: Ehler's Grim Reaper


Bass: Topwater; Goggle Eyed Gurgler


Wiper: Seaducer Red/White - The Best Wiper/Walleye Pattern Ever!


Panfish: Micro Popper


Crappie: J's Yellow Spidey Sense


Catfish: Satkowski's Devil Dog




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