Sunday June 12, 2016
Flat Tops Fishing Report (6/10/16)
The weather in the Flat Tops was absolutely beautiful over the past week. The last of the remaining snow is rapidly vanishing from the high country. That means the run-off is in full effect. For at least the next several days, lake and pond fishing will likely provide your best opportunities for fishing success. Caution is advised when using the trails in the area this time of year. Hikers are almost certain to encounter obstacles such as downed trees and drifted snow, particularly on the higher elevation trails, and tree snags are always something to be aware of in burn areas.
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, many 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.
Fishing the North Fork right now is extremely challenging. Flows are high and muddy below Ripple Creek. Wading is strongly discouraged. Above Ripple Creek, flows are 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). Your best options for patterns are large streamers.
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 cloudy and high. 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.
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…
Trappers Lake is now open. We haven’t received reports that the cuts are cruising the shoreline just yet, but we should start to see great shore fishing any day. 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 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 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.
Skinny Fish Lake is accessed via the Skinny Fish Trail #1813. Our first reports from Skinny Fish are that the trail is open; however, the lake is still surrounded by significant snow and the fishing is slow.
From Skinny Fish Lake, McGinnis Lake can be accessed using the McGinnis Trail #2213. Earlier this week, we received a report that McGinnis remains frozen.