Flat Tops Fishing Report (7/12/18)
Thursday July 12, 2018
Flat Tops Fishing Report (7/12/18)
We’ve seen some very warm, dry conditions in the Flat Tops over the last month, which has pushed fish to find cooler water. If you’re fishing the rivers and streams, look for more action in faster moving runs and riffles rather than quiet pools. Fishing the lakes has been a challenge as fish seek cooler temperatures in deep water.
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.
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 North Fork is a great place to be right now if you love to fish dry flies. We’re seeing some large fish rising to hammer a variety of patterns when presented effectively. We recommend stimulators (#14-#18), caddis patterns (#16-#18) and PMX (#12-#16) for dry patterns. Prince nymphs (#18-#20), copper Johns (#16-#18) and zug bugs (#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.
You’ll find the best action on the South Fork if you hike upstream about 2.5 miles to just above the falls. The South Fork is also fishing very well. Stonefly hatches have slowed, but we’re still seeing some impressive caddis and mayfly hatches. PMX (#12-16), BWO foam post emergers (#16-#20), stimulators (#14-#18) and various caddis patterns (#16-#20) are producing very well on the top water. Lower in the water column, BH hare’s ears (#16-#18), BH pheasant tails (#16-#18) and rubber leg copper Johns (#16-#18) are excellent picks.
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…
The action seems to have slowed considerably at Trappers Lake. We’re not hearing much good news from those fishing from the shore. As we move into August and September and the nighttime temperatures begin to drop, things will turn around. Your best approach for now is to fish from a float tube or boat. The only reports of success from the shore are coming from anglers at it early and late in the day when the temperatures drop. Elk hair caddis (#16-#18), PMDs (#18-#20) 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. The action remains sluggish 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. Skinny Fish is in the mid-summer lull. We’re not hearing of many successful outings. You might see some action in the evenings with caddis patters (#16 -#20), royal coachman (#14-#16) and Adams (#16-#18). Trailing a copper John (#16-#20) or a scud (#16-#20) behind a hopper (#10-#14) might be worth a shot.
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.