Friday July 24, 2015
Flat Tops Fishing Report (07/24/15)
Flows on the rivers and streams in the Flat Tops are right where anglers want them to be and we’re see some great action. The higher temperatures are slowing things down a bit at some of the lakes, but we’re still seeing good success early and late in the day.
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.
The North Fork remains a hot spot. In our humble opinion, dry-dropper combos are your best option. Hoppers (#10-#14), stimulators (#12-#14) and PMX (#12-#14) make great top flies. Trail those with an RS2 (#18-#22), red copper John (#18-#20) or a zug bug (#16-#18) and you’ll be in business.
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.
Great hatches are still coming off on the South Fork. We’re sticking with the stimulators (#12-#14), caddis and mayfly patterns (#14-#18) as our best recommendations. PMD and BWO emergers are excellent choices as well. 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.
It’s more of the same on Marvine. The brookies are going after the dry flies like bums on ham sandwiches. Have fun out there and enjoy a dinner of fresh brook trout.
Flat Tops Lakes:
Trappers Lake offers a great opportunity to land a large native cutthroat. The cuts are definitely moving out to deeper, cooler water. The action from the shore has slowed considerably. If you have a float tube or a canoe, you’d do well to put it to use. Scuds and wooly buggers with some sink are your best bets during the day. Early and late in the day, you might throw a caddis imitation.
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.