Friday July 8, 2016
Flat Tops Fishing Report (7/08/16)
The weekend ahead should be warm and clear--perfect for fishing the lakes and streams of the Flat Tops. Escape the Front Range and the crowds on the I-70 corridor. Come enjoy the solitude of the Flat Tops Wilderness in northwest Colorado. Give Ripple Creek Lodge a call today.
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.
While there is still plenty of water roaring down the North Fork, the flows are receding daily. We’re seeing some epic hatches and exceptional action. BH hare’s ears (#16-#18), prince nymphs (#18-#20), copper johns (#16-#18) and zug bugs (#16-#20) have all been extremely effective when bounced along the bottom. Early and late in the day, trout are rising for stimulators (#14-#16), elk hair caddis (#16-#20) and PMDs (#18-#22).
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 on fire. As on the North Fork, the flows on the South Fork remain high. Use good judgment when wading. We recommend dead drifting a BH woven stonefly nymph, a flash back hare’s ear or a BH danger baby through the deep holes most of the day. Early in the morning and late in the afternoon, you should be able to provoke some rises by throwing out a BWO emerger (#18-#22), stimulator (#14-#16) or dark cahill (#14-#16).
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. The trout on Marvine Creek aren’t especially selective feeders this time of year. The fishing pressure is minimal and the bugs are abundant. If it’s in your fly box, give it a shot. A good presentation is likely to draw a strike.
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…
It’s been hit and miss for anglers on Trappers Lake. We’re hearing of some success fishing from the banks early and late in the day with caddis and mayfly patterns. 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. The reports from Big Fish Lake are a mixed bag. 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.
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.
If you’ve been fishing the Flat Tops recently, get in touch and let us know how you did.