The “Wild Weather Train of 2021” continues... according to the Denver Post: “Denver has been wetter than Miami and cloudier than the Pacific Northwest this spring. It has been the wettest start to a year since 1983.”
On the bright side, ambient temps are warm enough now, that the fish don’t really care! June is the best month for all warm water species in this state, and while many of your favorite trout rivers are blown, all the front range and lower elevation mountain fisheries are in full swing.
The Denver South Platte River (AKA…the DSP)
Not much has changed in the mighty South Platte, we are still seeing much higher than average flows from rain and increased outflow from urban reservoirs, which has kept the river clean of early weed growth and added plenty of cover to keep pressure down. Smallmouth will likely be post spawn by the time of publication, and smallmouth fishing can be epic as water temps rise. Smallmouth fishing in the DSP is a game of persistence, as they can be highly transient. As a black bass, they are structure oriented, so rockpiles, riprap banks, submerged trees, and manmade structure, bridge pilings, shopping carts are all likely holding spots as they provide great ambush points.
Covering water is the name of the game, and an intermediate or short sink tip can really help keep your fly in the zone longer. Baitfish (Clousers/Deceivers) and leeches are my go to flies, and a varying speed retrieval with short strips and plenty of pauses, seems to elicit the most strikes. There are some very high-quality smallmouth in the river, approaching the 4lb class, and are really an asset to this urban fishery! If water temperatures normalize, expect the annual spawning ritual to begin near the end of the month. 60 degrees seems to be the magic number for DSP carp, but the range is as broad as 55-75. We have seen some females begin to breech and loosen egg sacks in the river behind the shop. The DSP Carp population is putting on weight quickly, both from aggressive eating and fast-growing egg sacks in the females. The biggest Carp of the year are caught in April, and it is the best time to break the high 20lb to 30lb mark!!! Read more about strategies for fishing the carp spawn in the ponds section below.
Small Lakes and Ponds:
Temps are about as ideal as they get in our small lakes and ponds. Perch and panfish are coming to life for the season and will eagerly take just about any fly you can throw, so long as it has a little flash, and they can fit it in their mouths. Large schools of perch and crappie can be found near structure, and can provide almost non-stop action once you find them.Bass are on beds now, you can find out more about the ethics of bed fishing in last month’s report. As the month progresses, they will move off their beds, after a trying spawn, and begin to recoup lost calories. Early summer bass fishing, before temps get too hot is as good, in the classical bass fishing sense, as it gets. Mid-late June is time to try out all those ridiculous, big bass flies that call to you from our bins! While top water is usually not the most productive way to catch bass in Colorado, on cloudy days, or in weed choked lakes, it can certainly be the most fun. Cast a popper or frog at or over structure or weeds, let the rings clear, give a strong “POP” a good pause, then “POP” again all the way back to you. Not much is more exciting than a big bass exploding on a popper.
Because of the slooww increase in water temps, the wiper game is still in full swing, particularly in the larger reservoirs of eastern Colorado. If you have not tried wiper fishing, DO IT! These fish demolish flies and pull HARD. Check last month's forecast for more details on this awesome fishing opportunity! As we move to mid-late June, many warm-water anglers will re-focus their attention to northern pike and tiger muskie, in the lower elevation reservoirs of the high country. Pike have a much-beguiled history in this state, and while populations are limited, there are still great opportunities for BIG pike all over Colorado. The tiger muskie in Colorado is even more intriguing. Stocked for nuisance species control, these fish are placed in low numbers in a variety of impoundments and can be considered the most difficult fish to bring to hand in the State. If a true muskie is the fish of 10,000 Casts, the tiger muskie must be in six figures.CPW publishes annual fishery surveys for many locations in the State, and they can be an excellent tool to find where Tiger Muskie have been placed:
Rick's Flies for March Warm Water
Carp: Jake’s Carp Craw (Available in Denver Shop)
Bass: Umpqua Geezus Lizard
Bass: Topwater; Umpqua Bass Popper
Wiper: Umpqua Stay Hungry Streamer
Crappie: Umpqua Pops Bugger
Pike: Umpqua THE Pike Fly
Tiger Muskie: Umpqua Jigged Flashtail Clouser