Sunday July 2, 2017
Flat Tops Fishing Report (7/02/17)
Flows are dropping in a hurry on the rivers and streams of the Flat Tops and fishing conditions are nearly ideal. We’re getting reports of very successful outings on both forks of the White River as well as a number of the lakes.
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 and fat, healthy rainbows is generally excellent.
Action on the North Fork has picked up considerably. Flows are becoming manageable and wading is not as difficult as it has been in recent weeks. Throughout the day we’re seeing clouds of mayflies, caddis and stoneflies, so pattern selection is not nearly as important as presentation. We’ve seen large trout rise for terrestrials, stimulators and BWOs. Anglers are also taking some big whitefish and trout on a variety of nymphs as well as leeches and San Juan worms.
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 South Fork is fishing much like the North Fork. Stoneflies, caddis and mayflies are out in impressive numbers and fish are feeding actively throughout the water column. A good presentation is likely to provoke a strike. We’re seeing anglers pull out multiple fish over 20 inches.
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. If you’re looking to catch a mess of brook trout on dry flies, Marvine Creek is a great choice.
We are seeing a few rainbows and cutthroats taken from some of the deeper pools, but the majority of the fish taken are brookies and they aren’t especially selective. Nearly any well-presented pattern should do the trick.
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 seeing a lot of happy anglers on Trappers Lake as the cutthroats are feeding close to the shore. Green wooly buggers (#14-#16) with a small split shot, copper johns (#16-#18) and big hoppers (#8-#12) are your best options. 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 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. Like many high lakes, Big Fish tends to be a hit and miss proposition. We’ve received some reports of large fish taken and equally as many reports of anglers being skunked.
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 also be a good approach. The action on Skinny Fish tends to slow by mid July, so get there sooner than later.
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.