Saturday June 30, 2018
Flat Tops Fishing Report (6/28/18)
The heat is on in Colorado. It’s a great time to escape to the cooler temperatures in the high country. Find some relief by spending a few days at Ripple Creek Lodge.
Flat Tops Rivers and Streams:
The White River is often overlooked by anglers due in part to the perception that the best fishing opportunities require access to private property. Significant stretches of the White, both above and below the confluence of the North and South forks, do require access to private land; however, 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, the forks of the White offer miles and miles of public access within the White River National Forest. Neither of the forks receives heavy fishing pressure and bugs are diverse and abundant. Long leader and light tippet are rarely required and fish almost never key on one insect.
We’ve seen several days in a row of warm, dry conditions with several more in the forecast. Below the confluence, the White River is warming considerably and algae is an issue. It’s a good time to head for higher ground and spend your time on one of the two forks.
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.
The low, clear flows on the North Fork have pushed most of the larger fish to the deep runs with some smaller trout hitting dry flies in the quiet pools. Occasionally, large fish surface to take big dry flies; however, working below the surface is more likely to grab the attention of a big trout or whitefish. We recommend stimulators (#14-#18), Amy’s ants (#12-#16), chubby Chernobyls (#12-14) and PMX (#12-#16) for dry patterns. Rubber leg copper Johns (#16-#18), BH hare’s ears (#16-#18) and BH pheasant tails (#16-#18) are producing below the surface.
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 15 miles within the Flat Tops Wilderness Area. 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.
Like the North Fork, the South Fork is flowing low and clear. You’ll find the best action on the South Fork if you hike upstream about 2.5 miles to just above the falls. Look for larger fish holding in deep runs, shady areas and close to the bank. Smaller fish are active near the surface in quiet pools, but you’re not likely to run into anything over 10 or 12 inches. The most productive dry patters we’ve seen are PMX (#12-16), BWO foam post emergers (#16-#20), stimulators (#14-#18) and Amy’s ants (#12-#16). Below the surface, BH hare’s ears (#16-#18), BH pheasant tails (#16-#18) and zug bugs (#16-#18) are solid choices.
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’d to spend the day experiencing some of the beauty of the Flat Tops Wilderness topped off by a pan full of brookies for dinner, Marvine Creek is the place for you. A good presentation with any dry fly is likely to produce results on Marvine. The fish are really attacking the surface. Stimulators (#12-#14), yellow sallies (#14-#16) and elk hair caddis (#16-#18) are our flies of choice.
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 continues to fish well. Terrestrials (#10-#14) and stimulators (#12-#16) are good patterns for Big Fish Creek.
Flat Tops Lakes:
Over 100 fishable lakes are just a hike or trail ride away from Ripple Creek Lodge—far too many to include in this report. If you’re looking for information on a specific lake, which you don’t see listed here. Feel free to get in touch with us and we’ll tell you what we know. Here’s what we’re hearing about some of the gems…
We’re getting reports that the action is slowing at Trappers Lake, especially for those fishing from the shore. Your best option is to fish from a float tube or boat. Success from the shore is happening early and late in the day as fish move in to feed. Elk hair caddis (#16-#18), stimulators (#12-#14) and hoppers (#10-#12) are recommended patterns.
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.
West Lost Lake can be accessed via multiple trails that connect to the West Lost Lake Trail #1103. We’re hearing that West Lost Lake is a mixed bag. Fishing early and/or late in the day with a caddis pattern (#16-#18) or parachute Adams (#16-#18) is your best bet. West Lost Lake is a short walk or ride from Deep Lake, Dines Lake and East Lost Lake. If you’re not having any luck at West Lost, you have some additional options. A guided horse trip from Ripple Creek Lodge is the perfect way to enjoy all four lakes.
Access Lake of the Woods via the Trappers Lake Road and Lake Of The Woods Trail #2263. We’re starting to see the action slow at Lake of the Woods. That trend will likely continue until the fall. You might have some success with a float tube using small dry flies and scuds. Lake of the Woods holds some surprisingly large brook trout.
Big Fish Lake is accessed using the Big Fish Trail #1819. We’re not hearing of much success at Big Fish Lake. Big Fish is something of an enigma. When the bite is on, it’s on. When it’s not, it’s definitely not. If you’re fortunate to arrive when the bite is on, you’re likely to hook into a sizeable cutthroat.
Skinny Fish Lake is accessed via the Skinny Fish Trail #1813. As is typically the case, Skinny Fish is slowing as the temperatures climb. Anglers are reporting sporadic success with orange stimulators (#12-#16), royal coachman (#14-#16) and irresistibles (#14-#18). Trailing a copper John (#16-#20) or a scud (#16-#20) behind a hopper (#10-#14) can be effective.
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.
We’ve received some recent requests for reports on the conditions on the south side of the Flat Tops. We’ll do our best to provide some information. If you’ve been fishing the Flat Tops recently, get in touch and let us know how you did.