Sunday August 13, 2017
Flat Tops Fishing Report (8/09/17)
Fall is approaching and we’re getting hints of the cool mornings and evenings on the horizon. Flows on the rivers and streams are low and clear making for good dry fly fishing. The action on the lakes should pick up as nighttime temperatures continue to drop. Book a stay with Ripple Creek Lodge today and take advantage of the great fishing opportunities.
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, many miles of public access are available on both the North and South Forks within the White River National Forest. Keep in mind that there is a two-trout limit on both the North and South 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 is generally excellent.
The low, clear flows on the North Fork have pushed most of the larger fish to some of the deeper runs. We’re seeing a lot of small fish taking dry flies in the quiet pools. Some large fish are surfacing to take big dry flies; however, working below the surface is more likely to attract a big fish. 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 prince nymphs (#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. 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 running crystal clear. You’ll find the best action on the South Fork if you hike upstream about 2.5 miles to just below and above the falls. We’re generally hearing that anglers are having more success on the North Fork than on the South Fork. That could change any day though. Your approach on the South Fork should be the same as the North Fork. Look for larger fish holding in deep runs, shady areas and close to the bank. You’ll find a lot of smaller fish feeding near the surface in quiet pools, but you’re not likely to find anything over 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 rubber leg copper Johns (#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’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 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 has been productive of late. Shade is abundant, so water temperatures risen significantly. Anglers are reporting success with various terrestrials (#12-#16), BWOs (#16-#20) and elk hair caddis (#14-#18).
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 getting reports that the action on Trappers Lake is beginning to pick up. Anglers fishing from shore and watercraft are seeing some productive days. Most of the action is happening below the surface. We recommend either a sink-tip fly line or adding a small amount of weight and throwing a wooly worm (#8-#12), a Pat’s rubber legs (#8-#14) or a scud (#12-#16).
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.
West Lost Lake can be accessed via multiple trails that connect to the West Lost Lake Trail #1103. We’re hearing mixed reports from West Lost Lake. Your best bet is fishing early and/or late in the day with a caddis pattern (#16-#18) or parachute Adams (#16-#18). 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 at Lake of the Woods remains slow. You might see some success early and late in the day. In the middle of the day, we suggest you find a stream.
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.
Skinny Fish Lake is accessed via the Skinny Fish Trail #1813. The reports from Skinny Fish Lake are mixed at best. 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 (#16-#20) 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.