Flat Tops Fishing Report (6/7/18)

Thursday June 7, 2018 comments

Flat Tops Fishing Report (6/7/18)

It feels like summer in the Flat Tops. The last of the remaining snow is rapidly vanishing from the high country and the end of the spring run-off is in sight. River and stream flows remain high, but visibility is good and conditions are improving each day. Caution is advised when using the trails in the area this time of year. Hikers are almost certain to encounter obstacles such as downed trees and drifted snow, particularly on the higher elevation trails, and tree snags are always something to be aware of in burn areas.

Flat Tops Rivers and Streams:

The White River is often overlooked by anglers due in part to the perception that the best fishing opportunities require access to private property. Significant stretches of the White, both above and below the confluence of the North and South forks, do require access to private land; however, the perception that no public water exists is far from accurate. Below the confluence, several public access areas have been established by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Above the confluence, the forks of the White offer miles and miles of public access within the White River National Forest. Neither of the forks receives heavy fishing pressure and bugs are diverse and abundant. Long leader and light tippet are rarely required and fish almost never key on one insect.

The North Fork of the White River produces some very nice cutthroats, rainbows and whitefish; many in the 16-20 inch range. Downstream, toward Meeker, 24 inchers are not uncommon. Closer to Trappers Lake, the fishing for brookies and smaller cutthroats and rainbows is generally excellent. 

Over the next two weeks, we expect the action to pick up on the North Fork. The peak of the run-off has come and gone. We’re seeing some nice caddis and mayfly hatches throughout the day. A dry-dropper rig is a good approach. BH hare’s ears (#18-#20), prince nymphs (#18-#20), red copper johns (#18-#20) and zug bugs (#16-#20) have all been effective trailing behind stimulators (#16-#18), elk hair caddis (#18-#20), yellow sallies (#16-#20) and BWOs (#18-#22). If the winds pick up in the afternoon, an ant or beetle pattern (#12-#16) would be worth a try as well.

Access on the North Fork is restricted in some stretches, but the public water within the forest boundaries is not heavily fished. Be sure to respect private property boundaries. Most are well-marked.  

The South Fork of the White River offers more public access than the North Fork, especially for those willing to do a little walking. The South Fork Trail (#1827) follows the river for about 15 miles within the Flat Tops Wilderness Area. The trail is an easy to moderate walk and is well-traveled by hikers and horseback riders, but most fisherman don’t venture more than a few hundred yards from the campground, so don’t be deterred if the trailhead parking lot is busy. 

Action on the South Fork is pick up as well. We’re getting reports of success with both dry-dropper and dry-dry rigs. Royal coachmen (#16-#20), parachute Adams (#16-#20, BWOs (#18-#20) and red quills are bringing fish to the surface. For droppers, we suggest a WD40 (#20-#22), BH pheasant tail (#18-#20) or a tungsten BH birds nest (#16-#20).

Marvine Creek is accessed via the Marvine Trail (#1823).  The parking lot at the trail head is often full of vehicles and horse trailers, but the creek receives minimal fishing pressure. 

If you’d to spend the day experiencing some of the beauty of the Flat Tops Wilderness topped off by a pan full of brookies for dinner, Marvine Creek is the place for you. A good presentation with any dry fly is likely to produce results on Marvine. The fish are really attacking the surface. Stimulators (#12-#14), yellow sallies (#14-#16) and elk hair caddis (#16-#18) are our flies of choice.

Big Fish Creek runs along the Big Fish Trail (#1819). The Big Fish Trailhead is on the left as you enter the Himes Peak Campground. The campground is on the Trappers Lake Road 6 miles from the intersection with County Rd 8. The trail sees some heavy use in the summer months, primarily by horseback riders. The creek is narrow and brushy in many places, but negotiating the brush is worth the effort as the creek holds some surprisingly large rainbows and cutthroats as well as plenty of brook trout.

Big Fish is fishing well, particularly in the morning hours. Anglers are reporting success with wooly buggers (#14), red BH WD40 (#20) and some terrestrials (#14-#16). 

Flat Tops Lakes:

Over 100 fishable lakes are just a hike or trail ride away from Ripple Creek Lodge—far too many to include in this report. If you’re looking for information on a specific lake, which you don’t see listed here. Feel free to get in touch with us and we’ll tell you what we know. Here’s what we’re hearing about some of the gems…

Trappers Lake remains red hot. Anglers are reporting success with green wooly buggers (#14-#16) with a small split shot, copper johns (#16-#18) and big hoppers (#8-#12). Late in the day, if the wind dies down, you’re likely to see caddis and mayfly hatches. If the evening hatches come off, we suggest going with elk hair caddis (#16-#20), stimulators (#16-#18) and BWOs (#18-#22).

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the special regulations for Trappers. Only artificial flies and lures are permitted and the number and size of cutthroats in possession is restricted, but keep all of the brookies you’d like! The lake sits within the boundaries of the Flat Tops Wilderness, so motorized vehicles and watercraft are prohibited. 

West Lost Lake can be accessed via multiple trails that connect to the West Lost Lake Trail #1103. We continue to get mixed reports from West Lost Lake. Your best bet is fishing early and/or late in the day with a caddis pattern (#16-#18) or parachute Adams (#16-#18). West Lost Lake is a short walk or ride from Deep Lake, Dines Lake and East Lost Lake. If you’re not having any luck at West Lost, you have some additional options. A guided horse trip from Ripple Creek Lodge is the perfect way to enjoy all four lakes.

Access Lake of the Woods via the Trappers Lake Road and Lake Of The Woods Trail #2263. We’re starting to see the action slow at Lake of the Woods. That trend will likely continue until the fall. You might have some success with a float tube using small dry flies and scuds. Lake of the Woods holds some surprisingly large brook trout.

Big Fish Lake is accessed using the Big Fish Trail (#1819). We haven’t received any reports from Big Fish Lake other than that the lake is ice free. We should have some information available for next week’s report.

The reports from Skinny Fish Lake are excellent. Skinny Fish Lake is accessed via the Skinny Fish Trail #1813. Anglers are reporting good results with PMDs (#16-#20, elk hair caddis (#14-#18) and irresistibles (#14-#18). Trailing a BH hare’s ear, copper john (#16-#20) or a scud (#16-#20) should also produce some action.

We hope to have some more details on the lakes in the next several weeks as we take more guests into the high country. If you’ve been fishing the Flat Tops recently, get in touch and let us know how you did.