Thursday June 23, 2016
Flat Tops Fishing Report (6/22/16)
Summer is here and the rivers and streams in the Flat Tops have dropped to near optimum levels. Activity on the lakes is picking up nicely. All in all, it’s a great time for a pre-holiday visit to Ripple Creek Lodge.
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 of the North and South forks 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.
Over the next two weeks, the action on the North Fork should be outstanding. The peak of the run-off has passed—hello clear water nearly ideal flows. We’re seeing some nice caddis and mayfly hatches throughout the day. Dry-dropper rigs are the ideal approach. BH hare’s ears (#18-#20), prince nymphs (#18-#20), red copper johns (#18-#20) and zug bugs (#16-#20) have all been effective trailing behind stimulators (#16-#18), elk hair caddis (#18-#20), yellow sallies (#16-#20) and BWOs (#18-#22). If the winds pick up in the afternoon, an ant or beetle pattern (#12-#16) would be worth a try as well.
Access on the North Fork is restricted in some stretches, 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 South Fork is also fishing very well through all parts of the day. We’re getting reports of success with both dry-dropper and dry-dry rigs. BWOs (#18-#20), parachute Adams (#16-#20), red quills (#16-#20) and royal coachmen (#16-#20) have all proven effective dry flies. For droppers, we suggest a WD40 (#20-#22), BH pheasant tail (#18-#20) or a tungsten BH birds nest (#16-#20).
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 minimal fishing pressure.
If you’re look to fill a pan full of brookies for dinner, Marvine Creek is a wise choice. You really can’t go wrong with most of your standard dry patterns. The fish are really attacking the surface. Stimulators (#12-#14), yellow sallies (#14-#16) and elk hair caddis (#16-#18) are consistently enticing fish to rise.
Big Fish Creek runs along 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. The creek is narrow and brushy in many places, but negotiating the brush is worth the effort as the creek holds some surprisingly large rainbows and cutthroats as well as plenty of brook trout.
Big Fish is fishing well, particularly in the morning hours. Anglers are reporting success with wooly buggers (#14), red BH WD40 (#20) and some terrestrials (#14-#16).
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…
We’re getting mixed reports from Trappers Lake. Anglers are reporting success with green wooly buggers (#14-#16) with a small split shot, copper johns (#16-#18) and big hoppers (#8-#12). Late in the day if the wind dies down you’re likely to see caddis and mayfly hatches. If the evening hatches come off, we suggest going with elk hair caddis (#16-#20), stimulators (#16-#18) and BWOs (#18-#22).
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. 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 there is a chance that some segments might still be covered in drifted snow.
The reports from Skinny Fish Lake are excellent. Skinny Fish Lake is accessed via the Skinny Fish Trail #1813. Anglers are seeing success with elk hair caddis (#14-#18), PMDs (#16-#20) and irresistibles (#14-#18). Trailing a copper john (#16-#20) or a scud (#16-#20) would be a good approach
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.