Saturday August 20, 2016
Flat Tops Fishing Report (8/20/16)
The chilly mornings in the Flat Tops are telling us that fall is waiting in the wings. The action on the lakes will soon begin to pick up and the excellent summer on the rivers should roll right along until the snow flies. The summer vacationers are nearly gone for the season and the hunters haven’t arrived for next. It’s a great time to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the Flat Tops with a stay at Ripple Creek Lodge.
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 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.
The good times continue on the North Fork. Flows remain low and clear, ideal for dry flies and terrestrials. Stimulators (#14-#18), elk hair caddis (#16-#18), trico duns and spinners (#18-#20), PMDs (#16-#20) and various terrestrials (#10-#16) are excellent patterns to use. We’ve also seen action this week with PMX (#12-#16) and H&L Variants (#16-#18).
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.
A small fire is currently burning in the Lost Solar Creek drainage. The creek runs into the South Fork approximately 5 miles up the trail from the South Fork Campground. At this point, the South Fork Trail remains open, but we recommend checking the Blanco Ranger District web site for any updates before an extended trip.
The South Fork remains red hot. Our recommended dry flies: stimulators (#14-#18), PMDs (#16-20), Amy’s ant (#12-#14), red quills (#16-#18) and tricos (#18-#20). Below the surface, we suggest: BH hare’s ears (#16-#18), BH prince nymphs (#16-#18) and zug bugs (#14-#18).
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—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…
Trappers Lake remains slow; however, we’re starting to see some chilly nighttime temperatures, which bodes well for an increase in the action over the next several weeks. The cooler water temperatures will prompt fish to move to feed higher in the water column and closer to the shore. For now, your best bet from the shore is to try to hit a late afternoon caddis hatch. From watercraft, try a variety of streamers and scuds.
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. Cooler temperatures should heat up the action at Lake of the Woods as well, but it remains slow for now. 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 have been that the fishing is very slow. Anglers who are having any success are doing so with nymphs and some terrestrials. Try a BH pheasant tail (#18-#22), a BH copper john (#18-#22) or a Chernobyl ant (#16-#22).
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.
Wall Lake offers an excellent opportunity to do some fishing while enjoying a spectacular view. Wall Lake can be accessed via the Wall Lake Trail (#1818). The reports from the lake are also mixed. You’re most likely to have success with caddis patterns (#16-#20) early and late in the day. A guided pack trip from Ripple Creek Lodge is the perfect way to enjoy Wall Lake.
If you’ve been fishing the Flat Tops recently, get in touch and let us know how you did.