Welcome to July on the Front Range. 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 Colorado Front Range has to offer. All species are now post-spawn and enjoying ideal water temperatures. While consistency is nice, variety creates opportunity. A handful of days with cool-downs, and more importantly, consistent rain will bring some life into all fisheries and avert stagnation. Either way, July will be prime for the Adventurous Angler.
The Good news: The DSP Carp are the happiest I have seen in years. Multiple spawns and abundant forage have them feeding aggressively and indiscriminately. This past month’s Carp School, filming days, and personal fishing have been lights-out good, with huge numbers (for Carp) to the net. Fast-sinking flies, as always, are necessary to combat the current, but pattern has been less important, as they are eating, and food is everywhere.
The Bad news... grass. In years with normal water levels, the river is in peak flow out of Chatfield, and combined with occasional rainfall, we have plenty of flushing flows to keep the grass down in our home water. This year, there has not been a significant release, and we have had minimal widespread rainfall, so the grass has exploded! The heavy grass mats are a part of the extremely happy mood of the fish, as it creates cover and has led to a boom in macroinvertebrate numbers. It has also added some additional calories as a salad course for Carp, but it is extraordinarily tricky to make a good presentation when you are constantly hanging up on grass. Furthermore, this fish will almost always refuse if there is even one blade of grass on the fly. As of writing, releases from Chatfield bumped up 100 cfs. I hope that we either get sustained releases, or a major rain event soon to flush the system, or it will become nearly un-fishable with bank-to-bank grass mats.
It's been a mixed bag season on the smaller bodies of water on the Front Range. Panfish, Perch, Crappie, Bass, and 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 will 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 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! Early to mid-summer is prime for night fishing and all kinds of crazy creatures 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.
With the consistency of temperatures and forage in July, fish are free to roam to where the food is, and you can be limited standing on the bank. Boats are THE most effective way to fish large water through the summer. Float tubes and kayaks are easy to transport, allow access to all types of water, and can be inexpensive. Most Colorado impoundments are small-craft friendly. Safety note: big water, wind/thunderstorms, and small boats do not mix. So be careful, and be aware of the weather! 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. Locating Bass will translate to finding submerged structure, and working back bays around piles, trees, humps, and essentially any break from the flat bottom will produce Bass 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. The ability to approach stealthily 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 Red fishing within an hour’s drive of Denver!
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!