What a May! True to form, Front Range warm water fisheries came alive, and the high-quality fishing of spring could not be spoiled by the relentless wind or historic snowstorms. Moving into June, the theme will be STABILITY. While there is no way to know if the extreme winds will finally end, it seems to be losing steam. Rainstorms moving forward will be a welcome event rather than a system shock. Most spawns are wrapping up as this is being written, and straightforward and reliable summer fishing is here to stay.
We have not seen a big release from Chatfield yet this spring, and IF it does happen, it will likely be sometime this month. With some of the reservoirs higher in the system above full capacity, there may be an opportunity to finally fill the newly expanded reservoir and increase outflow. 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 Man-Made structures; bridge pilings, shopping carts, etc., are 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’s, and a quick 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! River clarity has been great, and post-spawn Carp are eating slightly more aggressively than normal to replace the calories lost in the spawn.
As Bass move off their spawning beds, they are replaced with Panfish. While Panfish get the least praise of the warm water world, they are probably the most fun, and this is the time of year to see your Personal Best Bluegill or Sunfish broken, and rack up huge numbers counts as they come in shallow. Panfish during the spawn are not technical and will eat Dries, Small Streamers, and even Micro Poppers. If you find them, they will eat and get ready for more fun than you are willing to admit. Lakes with larger predators (Bass, Catfish, Pike) will also present some unique opportunities, as these larger fish take advantage of the concentrated panfish. Fishing a Bluegill or Perch Pattern in deeper water, just outside of the spawning beds, can yield a pleasant surprise! Carp fishing in smaller ponds will remain great for the rest of Summer, so long as there is visibility.
The Wiper game will remain viable through mid-month but will slow for wade anglers as the fish follow the bait to deeper water. 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 focus their attention on 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; https://cpw.state.co.us/thingstodo/Pages/FisherySurveySummaries.aspx. Both Pike and Tigers prefer water temps in the 58-68 degree range (with Tigers more comfortable in the cooler end of that spectrum) and move into shallow weedy bays in June to feed aggressively before they move deep in July. A Pike or Muskie eat is an amazing display of Predatory Muscle. They are ambush predators and reserve their energy to explode on prey when the time is right. Watching a fish go from still to full speed, then to see gills flare and a fury of teeth and jaws inhaling a large fly still induces the shakes. Spring is more of a Small Fly Game for these fish, as they are looking for many small meals, and Flies in the 4-7” range seem to best producers. Presentation is highly dependent on water temps, with long slow strips and lots of pauses in the early going, to full, non-stop double hand ripping as the water warms. Because of the high pressure and limited distribution of these fish, they tend to not be keen on Wire Bite Tippet. As an alternative, many anglers use 60-80lb Fluoro. While relatively tough, you still can lose a monster to a nick in the bite tippet, so check it after every fish to make sure it is not compromised. If you are interested in learning more about Norther Pike, Trouts is offering a Spring Pike School on June 10th & 11th, give us a ring @ 303-733-1434 for more details.