Despite Hot Spell in Parts of Colorado, Great Local Fishing Conditions Abound

Area Reservoirs Approaching Capacity Levels

Bob Volpe

Summer fishing is in full gear  in the local high country region.

With drought conditions wreaking havoc on the western slope, we here on the east side of the mountains have been spared much of the fishing problems that area has encountered.

Just last week over a 100-mile stretch of the Colorado and Gunnison rivers have been put on alert for adverse fishing conditions. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) agency is asking anglers to voluntarily avoid fishing on the Colorado and Gunnison rivers due to extremely low flows and warm water temperatures.

The closure for the Colorado River is in effect between Kremmling and Rifle, and the Gunnison River closure applies within Tomichi Creek State Wildlife Area east of Gunnison.

The agency placed a full-day voluntary fishing closure on that section of the river effective July 7 for the Colorado River and July 8 for the Gunnison River, which will remain in effect until further notice.

Luckily, our mainstay fishing destinations on this side of the divide have been blessed with frequent rainfall and filling reservoirs. According to the Denver Water Board and Aurora Water officials, the levels in Cheesman, Elevenmile, Antero, and Spinney Mountain reservoirs are in pretty good shape. Elevenmile reservoir, a popular haven for local anglers, has recached a 103-percent capacity level. Cheesman , meanwhile is at 98-percent capacity and Antero is at 100-percent. Spinney Mountain reservoir has also hit the 100-percent level. Out flows from these reservoirs are what feed the great South Platte river and some of the best trout fishing in the country.

The latest flow conditions have increased significantly over the last few weeks. The biggest winners in the stream flow contest are Elevenmile canyon and the Dream Stream below Spinney Mountain reservoir. Both of these are out flowing in the low to high 200 cfs (cubic feet per second) rates.

Deckers and Cheesman canyon are flowing in the mid-100s cfs. These are great flows for both the fishing and safe wading.

As the weed beds grow higher in the water column in the reservoirs, the callibeatis life cycle flies will be your go to imitations. The key to hooking up with these big reservoir fish is finding the correct depth to set your flies at. It’s a hit or miss game with the proper depth so if you’re not getting hits, change your depth.

This time of year, on the river, grasshoppers become a major food source for hungry trout.

Hopper imitation patterns are a favorite fly to flip to trout on the South Platte. There is nothing more exciting than seeing a huge trout come out of the water to swallow a big fat hopper pattern.

Be safe, be considerate of other anglers, and most of all have tight lines.