by Jon Easdon
As the weather begins to change to a consistently warmer temperature, the annual assault of melting snow ensues.
And with melting snow comes something with which every fly fisherman is familiar: run-off.
While there are a large number of folks that put the fly rods away during this time, run off actually presents us all with plenty of opportunity to keep those casts in the air.
Every freestone river in the world becomes affected by run off in the spring time. Water levels can double or even quadruple in a 24-hour period. This event "blows out" the rivers and they become unfishable for a time.
If you do fish waters that are affected by runoff, safety should be your top concern. Wading in a river that is experiencing runoff is not recommended. This is good water to raft in, but not wade. Plus, most of the fish in the river during run off are just feet off of the banks seeking refuge. Try bigger patterns such as San Juan worms, cranefly larva, and stoneflies. Streamers are also very deadly at this time.
Here in the Pikes Peak region we are largely unaffected by runoff in the South Platte River. This river is a tailwater and the flows are controlled. Tailwaters do, however, become very busy during run off.
What are some other opportunities for fishing during this time?
The lakes and reservoirs in the state fish great in the late spring/early summer. From South Park to Pueblo there are ample opportunities for fly anglers. A few of our guides had a great day last week throwing top water flies for bass in Pueblo reservoir. Even Skaguay Reservoir, near Victor, had some action in the last week.
Our higher elevation lakes also turn on again at this time. The Chironomids start to hatch frequently and the first callibaetis of the season start to hatch. The northern pike bite also starts to pick up and presents one of the best opportunities of the year to chase pike on the fly.
Our local lakes on Pikes Peak also become a great option. All three reservoirs have been fishing well with some quality Mackinaw coming out of both North and South Catamount.
At this rate of runoff and with our snowpack, I predict runoff will peak around the third week of June, so we can expect to be dealing with runoff for the foreseeable future.
Before you put the fly rod away for a month, check out other alternatives to the river this early summer. There are all kinds of opportunities to do something different and fish outside the box. Expand your adventure!
Orvis 101 Introduction to Fly Fishing
Orvis 201 Streamside