Friday July 17, 2015
Flat Tops Fishing Report (07/16/15)
Flows on the rivers and streams are getting down to that ideal range and we’re seeing some spectacular hatches. The lakes in the Flat Tops are on fire. You’re not going to find a much better time for some dry fly fishing anywhere.
Flat Tops Rivers and Streams:
The White River is often regarded as consisting primarily of private water. While there are large sections of the White both above and below the confluence that do require access to private land, 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, several miles of public access is available on both the North and South Forks within the White River National Forest.
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.
All we can say is bugs, bugs and more bugs. Stimulators (#12-#14), caddis patterns (#14-#18) and PMD patterns (#14-#18) are like mice for cats right now. Don’t hurt your back lifting up healthy, fat trout all day. Lift with your legs.
Access on the North Fork is somewhat limited, but the public water within the forest boundaries is not heavily fished. Stop in to the lodge and we’ll point you in the right direction. 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 producing some mind-bending hatches, especially after rain showers. Stimulators (#12-#14), caddis and mayfly patterns (#14-#18) are all but guaranteed to tempt fish to the surface. Work the deep pools where they’re bordered by a good current. We’ve seen a number of fish in the plus 20 inch range come out of the South Fork in the last week.
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 very little fishing pressure. If you’re look to fill a pan full of brookies for dinner, Marvine Creek is a wise choice.
Marvine is just a hoot right now. Get ready to set your hook as soon as that fly hits the water. You could probably catch your limit of brookies on a piece of cotton tied to a string.
Flat Tops Lakes:
Trappers Lake offers a great opportunity to land a large native cutthroat. Trappers has slowed a tad in the last week, but it’s still a good option early or late in the day. The cuts are starting to move to deeper, cooler water. Your best options remain 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.
Vaughn Lake is an excellent little lake to hit early in the morning or late in the afternoon (we recommend a cold beverage for late in the afternoon). This is a great location to cast from the shore using dry flies. Fish are consistently rising for hoppers, caddis patterns, PMDs and callibaetis. Please take note of the special regulations for cutthroats on Vaughn Lake and Poose Creek.
Big Fish Lake is reached using 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.
Skinny Fish Lake is accessed via the Skinny Fish Trail (#1813). The action at Skinny Fish has picked up. Orange stimulators (#12-#16), royal coachman (#14-#16) and hoppers (#10-#14) are producing some good results.
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.
What our guests are saying…
“Had a blast up there last weekend, thanks for everything! Fishing on the South Fork Friday-Sunday was pretty darn incredible. For the most part, we fished a red copper john with a small caddis and/or mayfly emerger dropper, from early morning to mid-afternoon. Big hatches of huge mayflies, caddisflies and some stoneflies starting popping late afternoon into evening, at which time we switched to fishing dry flies and had some epic fishing. If you are lucky enough to get a good rain shower or two in the afternoon, immediately after the rain, the bugs starting hatching like no other and the dry fly fishing was incredible. Witnessed one of the most insane hatches I've ever seen up there after a huge rain shower Saturday afternoon, water was literally boiling with fish rising for about 45 minutes to an hour immediately after the rain stopped.”
Jeff from Denver