Flat Tops Fishing Report (09/17/15)

Saturday September 19, 2015 comments

Flat Tops Fishing Report (09/17/15)

We’ve seen some unsettled weather in recent days, so the conditions have been hit and miss. As we creep into fall, the action should improve considerably.

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 has slowed a bit over the last two weeks. We’re no longer experiencing the tremendous summer hatches, but smaller caddis and PMD hatches are still occurring. We’re seeing the most success with flashy nymphs and large attractors. BH golden-ribbed hare’s ears (#14-#18), BH flash back pheasant tails (#14-#18), BH copper johns (#14-#18), stimulators (#12-#14) and Goddard caddis (#12-#14). You’re most likely to see success by focusing on the deeper holes, particularly along banks where there is some structure.

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 water levels on the South Fork have dropped more than what we’ve seen on the North Fork and the action has been slower. Conditions improve the further you move upstream, so hiking up the beautiful South Fork Trail is strongly encouraged. Stimulators (#14-#16) and PMDs (#16-#20) are producing the best results as far as dry flies. BH golden-ribbed hare’s ears (#16-#20) are the way to go if you choose to use a nymph pattern or a dry/dropper rig.

The Middle Fork of Marvine Creek is a great smaller fishery that offers amazing scenery along with excellent fishing opportunities within the Flat Tops Wilderness. The trail is getting busy with hunter traffic this time of year, but you’re not likely to encounter many anglers. Marvine Creek is fishing very well right now. You’re likely to see success with nearly any dry fly.

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…

Nighttime temperatures are beginning to drop though, so we expect the waters to cool down in the next couple of weeks, which should increase feeding activity. Be sure to make appropriate preparations for changing weather conditions.

Trappers Lake offers a great opportunity to land a large native cutthroat. We’re mostly hearing mixed reports from Trappers. Once the temperatures drop, Trappers will pick up as the cutthroats begin to cruise the shore. From the shore, your best bet is to try to hit a late afternoon caddis or mayfly hatch. From watercraft, try a variety of streamers, scuds and large attractors.

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. Poose Creek is artificial only and all cutthroats must be returned to the water immediately.

Shamrock Lake and Mirror Lake offer beautiful settings to pull in brookies all day long. Shamrock and Mirror are still your best opportunities for lake fishing in the area. The hike to reach these two lakes is not easy, but Ripple Creek Lodge does offer pack trips to both. Virtually any dry caddis or mayfly pattern (#18-#24) is bound to bring brook trout to the surface. If catching a mess of brookies and frying them up for dinner is something you enjoy, these two lakes are ideal.

Get in touch and let us know how you’re doing on the lakes!