Monday November 30, -0001 comments

Flat Tops Fishing Report (07/23/14)

Flat Tops Rivers and Streams:

It’s time to take a few days, head to higher ground and escape the heat.  The bite is on in the lakes and streams in the Flat Tops.  Book your stay at Ripple Creek Lodge today!

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 is generally excellent. 

Fishing on the North Fork of the White River has been excellent.  Tremendous caddis and mayfly hatches continue.  Stimulators (#14-#18), Goddard caddis (#16-#18), elk hair caddis (#16-#18) and PMDs (#16-#20) have all proven very effective dry flies.  We’re also seeing some success with some droppers--zug bugs (#18-#22) and BH copper johns (#18-#22) in particular.

Access on the North Fork is somewhat limited, 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 24 miles.  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. 

The South Fork is on fire.  We’re getting reports of success with both dry-dropper and dry-dry rigs.  BWOs (#18-#20), parachute Adams (#16-#20), red quills (#16-#20) and elk hair caddis (#16-#20) have all proven effective dry flies.  For droppers, we suggest WD40s (#20-#22), BH pheasant tails (#18-#20) and RS-2s (#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’re look to fill a pan full of brookies for dinner, Marvine Creek is a wise choice.  You really can’t go wrong with most of your standard dry patterns.  The fish are really attacking the surface.

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.  Here’s what we’re hearing about some of the gems…

All of the Flat Tops Lakes have been on fire for most of the last two weeks and we don’t see any reason why that won’t continue for at least the next two. 

Trappers Lake offers a great opportunity to land a large native cutthroat.  Reports are coming in of angler landing 20-30 fish per day.  Big cuts to continue cruising the shallows, especially early and late in the day, but we expect them to start spending more time in deeper, cooler water as warm days continue.  We’re seeing consistent success with golden ribbed hare's ears (#14-#16), elk hair caddis (#16-#18), renegades (#14-#16), pheasant tails (#16-#18), Adams (#16-#18), blue duns (#16-#20), light cahills (#16-#18) and quill gordons (#16-#18).

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. 

The reports from Skinny Fish Lake are excellent.  Skinny Fish Lake is accessed via the Skinny Fish Trail (#1813).  Anglers are reporting success with orange stimulators (#12-#16), royal coachman (#14-#16) and irresistibles (#14-#18).   Trailing a prince nymph (#16-#20) or a scud (#16-#20) behind a hopper (#10-#14) has also proven effective.

Shamrock Lake and Mirror Lake offer beautiful settings to pull in brookies all day long.  Both lakes are accessed via the Mirror Lake Trail (#1821).  Virtually any caddis or mayfly patterns (#18-#24) are bound to bring fish to the surface.

Wall Lake offers an excellent opportunity to do some fishing while enjoying a spectacular view.  Wall Lake can be accessed via the Wall Lake Trail (#1818).  The reports from the lake are also mixed.  You’re most likely to have success with caddis patterns (#16-#20) early and late in the day.  A guided pack trip from Ripple Creek Lodge is the perfect way to enjoy Wall Lake.


What our guests are saying…

Current fishing conditions on both the North Fork and South Fork of the White River couldn't be better.  Flows on both these streams, as well as the main White below the confluence of the north and south fork could not be better.  Insect hatches are plentiful throughout the river right now, from the headwaters to the lower section below the confluence.  The hatches vary slightly depending on the stretch of river you are fishing, but you are likely to see thick afternoon hatches of caddisflies, golden stoneflies, mayflies and pale morning duns.  I recommend fishing a nymph rig in the morning to early afternoon, consisting of a large weighted nymph such as a copper john or golden stonefly (size 12 - 14) as your lead fly, with a small caddis larva or emerger (size 18 - 20) as a dropper.  If you are fishing a nice deep run that holds fish, but are not having success, add weight to your nymph rig to get it down deeper where the fish are feeding.  In the late afternoon switch to a dry fly when you start seeing fish rise.  Green or brown caddisflies work wonders on top of the water this time of year.  One of my favorite dry flies for the White this time of year other than the caddisfly, is the parachute adams in size 16-18.  In all honesty, choice of water, and more importantly...PRESENTATION trumps fly pattern.  You can catch fish with just about any nymph rig this time of year if presented to the fish at the proper depth, with a good drift in the correct area of water.  Focus on the seams of fast currents that parallel deeper slower holding water/pools....that is where the big boys will be hanging out feeding.  During mid-day when the sun is high and the water is full of sunlight, look for shaded areas along the banks, under the willows and in deeper slower pools.  If you can get into a thick late afternoon caddis hatch, which happens just about every day this time of year, the fishing can be absolutely epic!  There is no need to fish anything lighter than 4X tippet and leaders this time of year, as 5X has lost me a lot of very big fish on the White this time of year.  These fish are fat, healthy and strong right now.  Get up there and enjoy this uncrowded freestone fishery, as the next couple months will be some of the best fishing of the year!

                                                                                                                        Jeff from Denver