Friday May 30, 2014 comments

Flat Tops Fishing Report (5/30/14)

Ripple Creek Lodge is open for 2014.  The remaining snow in the higher elevations of the Flat Tops is rapidly melting and the mountain valleys are vibrant green with new grass and leaves.  The elk, mule deer, bears, foxes, songbirds and a multitude of small woodland creatures are out and about shaking of their winter coats and feasting on the spring bounty.

The fishing in the Flat Tops area is still challenging with couple of exceptions.  The rivers and streams are all running fast and high and, in some cases, quite muddy.  The highest elevation lakes remain either frozen or difficult to access due to remaining snow.  In the next two weeks, we expect to see improving conditions on the rivers and streams and nearly all of the lakes should be open and accessible. 

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. 

The North Fork below Snell Creek is running high and muddy and very difficult to fish.  Your best options are fishing midges, nymphs and streamers along the banks or in small pools where fishing are holding to seek a break from the rapid flows.  Try a BWO (#18-#22), a zebra midge (#20-#22) or a BH olive wooly bugger (#12-#14).  Above Snell Creek, the North Fork is generally running clear, but the flows are still very fast and high.  The challenge is safely accessing sections in which the fishing are holding.

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 road to the South Fork campground is open as is the South Fork Trail.  The South Fork is not as running as muddy as the North Fork, but it is very fast and high.  Wading can be challenging and dangerous in some sections.  Our recommended patterns on the South Fork:  BWO (#18-#22), Griffith’s gnat (#18-#20), BH WD40-Red (#18-20), BH Zug Bug Nymph(#16-#20) and BH Zebra Midge (#18-#22).

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…

The Trappers Lake Road (Forest Road 205)to the Carhart trailhead is open, but Trappers Lake remains frozen and the access trails are still covered in significant snow.  At last report, none of the campgrounds surrounding Trappers are open or accessible.

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. 

Access Lake of the Woods via the Trappers Lake Road and Lake Of The Woods Trail #2263.  The ice is off.  The lake and the trail are both open.  Reports are that the fishing is excellent.  The fish are feeding very aggressively both on and below the surface especially early and late in the day.  You’re likely to have some success with nearly any small dry flies as well as scuds and streamers.  Some surprisingly large brook trout are pulled from Lake of the Woods. 

Big Fish Lake is also open and reportedly fishing well.  The lake is accessed using the Big Fish Trail #1819.  The trail is muddy, some deep snow drifts still remain on the trail and much of the lake is still surrounded by deep snow, so be prepared for some adverse conditions.