Flat Tops Fishing Report (7/13/17)

Thursday July 13, 2017 comments

Flat Tops Fishing Report (7/13/17)

It’s a great time to escape the crowds on the Front Range and I-70 corridor by visiting the Flat Tops in northwest Colorado. The combination of beautiful natural surroundings, solitude and outstanding fishing is hard to beat. 

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 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. 

We’ve seen some exceptional dry fly action on the North Fork over the last week. Flows are ideal and the water is clear. We recommend elk hair caddis (#16-#18), Amy’s ants (#10-#12), BWO emergers (#16-#18) and stimulators (#14-#18).

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 parking lot at the trailhead is busy. 

The South Fork is also fishing just as well as the North Fork. Stonefly hatches have subsided, but the daily caddis and mayfly hatches are plentiful. Various terrestrials, BWOs (#16-#18), parachute Adams (#16-#18) and elk hair caddis (#14-#18) have all proven effective dry flies. Green copper johns (#16-#18), zug bugs (#14-#18) CDC Loopwing Emergers (#16-#18) and BH hare’s ears (#14-#18) are good bets below the surface. As always on both the North and South Forks, presentation is more important than pattern.

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 most 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 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.  Here’s what we’re hearing about some of the gems…

The action at Trappers Lake remains steady. We’re getting reports that the action is slowing at Trappers, especially for those fishing from the shore. Your best option is to fish from a float tube or boat. Those seeing success from the shore are fishing in the early morning and evening hours using elk hair caddis (#16-#18), stimulators (#12-#14) and hoppers (#10-#12).

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. We’re starting to see slowing in the action at Lake of the Woods. We’ll likely see that trend continue until we see some cooler nighttime temperatures.   

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.

As expected, the action on Skinny Fish Lake is slowing. The warm days and mild nights are inducing the fish to find deeper, cooler waters. Skinny Fish Lake is accessed via the Skinny Fish Trail #1813. Anglers are seeing some success with terrestrials (#10-#14), stimulators (#12-#14) and Pat’s rubber legs (#10-#12).

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 have information on any of the one hundred plus lakes in the Flat Tops range, please let us know or post to the comments section. Thank you!


A beautiful afternoon at West Lost Lake in the Flat Tops Wilderness…