Long spring run-off. July monsoons. Flows that rose and dropped like a bad stock market. Of course, we were able to get in some good (and even great) fishing, but we never seemed to hit a good rhythm with the consistently high flows through June and July. So I asked some of our Guides and resident experts for a prediction for late summer and early fall fishing. I mean, all this water has to have some pay-off in the form of autumn fishing, right?
Kenny Romero, our stillwater specialist, predicts that “fall fishing for hungry trout at Spinney Mountain Reservoir should be tremendous this year.” Spinney was 75% full at this time last year compared to 99% full today. “This influx of water has established new coves and vegetation growth which in turn produced good numbers of chironomids, callibaetis, damsel flies, and terrestrials. The fish have put on good weight and girth this summer and have become accustomed to prolific food sources. So, they will continue to put on the feedbag as the summer insect life cycle comes to an end.”
What does this mean for fall fishing in Antero and Spinney reservoirs? “Trout will be feeding aggressively in late September through reservoir closure (mid November) on a variety of leech, crayfish and minnow imitations, most notably the standard “run of the mill” wooly bugger in a variety of colors. The key is to use sinking lines to get down to the trout’s preferred depths at this time of the year.”
Fishing in our rivers — both tailwater and freestone — will present some challenges while promising great fishing.
Steve Gossage, our product manager and Guide, says that tailwater hatches have already been affected by the rains. “Tricos have been coming off later in the morning than usual. Look for BWOs to possibly play a more-than-typical role during late summer. And don’t forget your worm box for sure!”
Late summer and fall is really going to be an interesting time, definitely unpredictable at least. Steve reminds anglers to “be ready to adapt even more so than usual.”
Scott Turrant offers that “our waters will remain cooler and should extend some hatches (golden stones and sedges) and the fishing should be better than during all the drought seasons leading up to this one! Tailwaters should remain swollen (relative to the anemic flows of recent years) and the fishing should be hot!”
Jon Easdon agrees, “We will move back into a good baetis period this fall as well. Terrestrials will be a good bet up until the first few freezes.”
“There are a lot of different bugs present — caddis, baetis, midges — and the trout will key on specifics. Knowing the water is key this time of year. If flows stay consistent, the fishing should be phenomenal.”
So, morning or late afternoon/evening fishing as we move into August? “Mornings are ‘safer,’ says Turrant. “In August, water temps will rise on bright days. Add the stress of catching fish at high temps and it IS lethal. Bring the fish to hand quickly, take fewer fish pic's, try to keep them in the water. You should fish 1x heavier tippet than you think. A good presentation on 4x will still hook more fish than an average presentation on 5x or 6x with less chance of break-offs.”
With full reservoirs, flows in our tailwaters should be steady and consistent — but you never know, really, how the city folk might adjust flows to meet the demands in Denver.
Gossage, Turrant and Easdon all agree that the fishing in our local freestone rivers will probably be “consistent with good fishing through the fall.” Turrant “loves freestones and suspects the Ark will be amazing!” Steve Gossage says that the freestones “will see spikes in volume and ‘dirty’ water. Be ready to use large dark patterns with some flash. Streamers are always a good choice — dark and flashy. Something that will move water.”
Scott Turrant summed it up best. When you are considering where to head this late summer and early fall: “I say mix it up! Enjoy both types of fisheries that are so close to us!”
Orvis 101 Introduction to Fly Fishing
Early season stillwater Fundamentals-Classroom