Thursday May 24, 2018
Flat Tops Fishing Report (5/24/18)
The runoff appears to have peaked in the rivers and streams of the Flat Tops, but flows remain high. We expect that conditions on both forks of the White River as well as below the confluence will continue to challenge anglers for the next week or so. Your best options for now will be the lakes and the smaller streams at higher elevations. We’re hearing that all but the highest lakes are open, but accessing them might be a challenge due to remaining snow.
Flat Tops Rivers and Streams:
The White River is often ignored by anglers because of the perception that public access is minimal. 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, anglers will find over 20 miles of public water 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 and smaller cutthroats and rainbows is generally excellent.
Fishing the North Fork right now is extremely challenging. Flows are high and slightly off color below Ripple Creek and wading can be dangerous. Above Ripple Creek, flows are a little high, but the water is not as muddy. If you choose to take a crack at the North Fork, we recommend trying the stretches of public water above Ripple Creek (between the Big Fish Trailhead and Trappers Lake). Throwing good size dry flies against the banks in slower sections is also a good strategy.
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 water on the South Fork is also running high, but the clarity is better than on the North Fork. Wading can be very hazardous in some sections. As on the North Fork, whatever success you might experience is likely to be the result of swinging large streamers or drifting a San Juan worm or Pat’s rubber legs through some of the deep runs.
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 run-off has not impacted Marvine Creek to the same degree as it has the White River. Late afternoon flows have been elevated and slightly off color, but, for the next several days, Marvine is likely to offer your best opportunity for the stream fishing in the Flat Tops. Stimulators (#12-#14), yellow sallies (#14-#16) and elk hair caddis (#16-#18) are consistently enticing fish to rise.
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 ice of off Trappers Lake! We haven’t received any reports from Trappers, but we’d expect that the fish will be eager to take advantage of the open water. Scuds (#14-#16), renegades (#16-#18) elk hair caddis (#16-#18) and Adams (#14-#16) are the recommended patterns on Trappers.
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 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. Some surprisingly large brook trout are pulled from Lake of the Woods.
Big Fish Lake is accessed using the Big Fish Trail #1819. We haven’t received any reports from Big Fish Lake. The majority of the trail should be open, but segments might still be covered in drifted snow.