Colorado Division of Wildlife SOUTHWEST REGION AQUATIC SECTION 2008 Fishing Forecast John Alves, Aquatic Biologist – Monte Vista Dan Brauch, Aquatic Biologist - Gunnison Dan Kowalski, Aquatic Biologist - Montrose Jim White, Aquatic Biologist - Durango Mike Japhet, Senior Aquatic Biologist Durango 970-375-6748 firstname.lastname@example.org This report is based on the best information that we have available as of March 2008. Water levels and streams flows, conditions that are not usually under DOW control, can change significantly and can have some affects on access, stocking and your fishing. Surface acreages listed are for full lake volume unless otherwise noted. For the most up-to-date information, readers are encouraged to visit the DOW Web Site at http://www.wildlife.state.co.us and go to Fishing / Reports / Statewide Conditions or Stocking Report. You can also call the DOW Biologist or your local DOW Area Office for more detailed information. A valid Colorado fishing license is required to fish in Colorado. Rio Grande Basin John Alves – Monte Vista (719-587-6907) or email@example.com Beaver Creek Reservoir (114 ac) This popular fishing destination is located 8 miles southwest of South Fork. Water level should be high this year due to the above average snowpack. Typically the reservoir is full in June and July and then water level will fluctuate throughout the summer due to water releases for wildlife management. Stocking level will be same as last year with 30,000 catchable size rainbow trout (10 inch) stocked from May through August. Fishing for brown trout (12 – 16 inch) is best at ice out through June and in the fall. Rainbow trout fishing should be good to excellent throughout the summer. Traditional trout fishing techniques usually work well, including power bait, worms and lures (Kastmasters, Panther Martins and Rapalas). Fly fishing from boats and float tubes is popular using streamers and dry flies). Kokanee salmon fishing is best from boats trolling lures at depths from 12 to 20 feet in early summer. Snagging is permitted October 1 through December 31. Big Meadows Reservoir (114 ac) This popular fishing destination is located at the headwaters of the South Fork Rio Grande, 13 miles west of South Fork. Mountain scenery is outstanding at this high country reservoir. Water level should be above normal throughout the summer. Stocking level will be similar to past years with 23,500 catchable rainbow trout (10 inch) stocked from May through August. Fishing should be good to excellent throughout the summer for rainbow trout (10-13 inch) and brook trout (10-12 inch). Traditional trout fishing techniques usually work well, including power bait, worms and lures (Kastmasters, Panther Martins and Rapalas). Fly fishing in the evening should produce good results for brook trout as well as rainbow trout. Mountain Home Reservoir (631 ac) Mountain Home Reservoir is a popular fishing destination located 4 miles southeast of Fort Garland. Outstanding views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains may be observed from this reservoir. The reservoir is expected to fill this summer due to the above normal snowpack. However, fluctuations in water level are expected throughout the summer due to irrigation water releases. Stocking level will be similar to past years with 22,000 catchable rainbow trout stocked from May through June. Fishing for rainbow trout from bank or boat should be good to excellent throughout the summer with best action in June. Traditional trout fishing techniques usually work well, including power bait, worms and lures (Kastmasters, Panther Martins and Rapalas). Road Canyon Reservoir (140 ac) This popular fishery is located in the upper Rio Grande basin 29 miles west of Creede. Water level should be normal with minimal fluctuations later in the summer. The trout fishery consists of rainbow trout (10-18 inch) and brook trout 12 – 16 inch). Stocking level will be same as last year with 14,000 catchable size rainbow trout stocked from June through July. Good to excellent fishing for rainbow trout and brook trout using traditional trout fishing techniques should be expected from May to July. Trolling lures or casting artificial flies from boats and float tubes work well especially early in the season. Algae blooms and aquatic vegetation growth may impact bank fishing in late summer. Sanchez Reservoir (4571 ac) This popular coolwater fishery is located 8 miles south of San Luis. Outstanding views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains may be observed from this reservoir. The lake is expected to be full at the start of the season with fluctuations later in the summer due to irrigation water releases. Boat ramp access will vary depending on lake level. Anglers should expect fair to good fishing for walleye (up to 5 lb), northern pike and channel catfish. Yellow perch are making a gradual comeback, but abundance continues to be low. Best time to fish is from ice out in May through July. Rio Grande Basin (continued) Conejos River Flows are expected to be above average this summer due to the heavy snowpack. Fluctuations should be expected due to irrigation water releases from Platoro Reservoir. Angling for brown trout should be good to excellent from Mogote to Platoro. Best fishing areas include the Fly Water from Aspen Glade Campground upstream to Menkhaven Resort, the Pinnacles Section and the meadow below Platoro Reservoir. Best fishing time is before snowmelt and after runoff in late June through July. Mayfly, stonefly and caddis fly hatches occur throughout the summer providing outstanding fly fishing opportunities for quality size brown trout. Rio Grande Flows are expected to be above average this summer due to the heavy snowpack. Brown and rainbow trout fishing should be good to excellent from Del Norte to Rio Grande Reservoir. Inventory results from 2007 showed improved trout biomass and abundance of quality size trout throughout the river. Best time to fish is after snowmelt in mid June through July especially during caddis fly, stonefly and Green Drake mayfly hatches. Wade fishing is available on public land and DOW leases (contact Monte Vista Service Center for more information about leases). Multiple boat/raft launch sites on public land provide float fishing opportunities to fish long stretches of the river. Upper Gunnison River Basin Dan Brauch – Gunnison (970-641-7070) or firstname.lastname@example.org Blue Mesa Reservoir (9000 ac) Blue Mesa Reservoir continues to be the place to go for kokanee salmon, rainbow trout, wild brown trout, and trophy lake trout. Kokanee salmon angling has continued to be good with kokanee comprising about 70% of the summer catch in 2007. It is expected that kokanee may be slightly less numerous in 2008 as compared to 2007, but kokanee should still be the predominant species caught. Kokanee opportunity is best in June and July, prior to the adult kokanee migration out of the reservoir into the Gunnison and East rivers. The bulk of the reservoir’s kokanee are stocked each year from Roaring Judy Hatchery, but some kokanee are stocked directly into the lake at the windsurfing area at East Elk Creek. This area is a good place to look for spawning kokanee that remain in the lake late in the season. Blue Mesa Reservoir is open to snagging for kokanee after November 1st. Rainbow trout action has slowed somewhat in recent years, but most rainbows caught have been a quality 12-16 inches in length. Rainbow trout are the predominant species caught by shore and ice fishing anglers, although brown trout are also caught in good numbers. Catch of brown trout up to 20 inches in length should be excellent in 2008, with a few lunkers coming in near the 30” mark. For anglers targeting the “big” fish in the lake, Blue Mesa should continue to provide good trophy lake trout opportunity in 2008. A new state record lake trout was caught at Blue Mesa in 2007. This giant fish topped the scales at over 50 pounds. Anglers targeting yellow perch have had some success finding good numbers of perch up to 14 inches in length, although perch action has been somewhat spotty. Gunnison River—Almont to Blue Mesa Reservoir The Upper Gunnison River provides excellent trout fishing opportunity for brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout on this 18 mile reach. Kokanee angling is also popular during their fall migration, which begins in earnest in late August. Public access is generally good for bank, wade or float fishing. Fish populations in the Gunnison River at Gunnison have benefitted in recent years from near optimal year-round flow patterns. Wild brown trout have experienced excellent survival and growth. Rainbow trout in this reach are a mix of fingerling stocked “wild strain” rainbow trout and privately stocked catchable rainbow trout. This section of the Gunnison River is scheduled to receive whirling disease resistant rainbows in the near future in an attempt to restore rainbow trout natural reproduction and recruitment to this section of the Gunnison River. Snowpack influenced runoff should be high this year for most of May and early June, so anglers should check current conditions prior to boating on the Gunnison River above Blue Mesa to insure that proper clearance is available under bridges. Lake San Cristobal (346 ac) Lake San Cristobal provides an excellent opportunity for anglers in the very picturesque Lake Fork of the Gunnison headwaters. This is Colorado’s second largest natural lake and in 2008 should provide good opportunity for anglers to catch rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout and lake trout. Anglers may also catch an occasional naturally reproduced kokanee salmon. Taylor Reservoir (2009 ac) Taylor Reservoir continues to be a destination fishery for trophy lake trout, catchable rainbow trout, and northern pike. Action is usually best for lake trout just after ice off, while pike angling is most active a month or so later, in early to mid June. Most shore angling is supported by regular stocking of catchable rainbow trout, but opportunities are often excellent at ice off for hold-over rainbows from the previous years’ fish plants. Taylor River The Taylor River continues to support a quality trout fishery, with overall biomass and density most often greatly exceeding Gold Medal standards. The Taylor Tailrace in particular continues to support a fishery that is rarely exceeded in the number of trophy sized trout with an estimated 59 fish over 14 inches per acre. Public access in this reach is just .4 mile, but availability of a nutrition-rich mysis shrimp food source continues to Upper Gunnison River Basin (continued) support trophy-proportion trout with fish over 30 inches and 20 pounds not uncommon. The Taylor River below the tailrace to the town of Almont includes nearly 6 miles of public water and provides excellent angling opportunity for trout. 2006 fish population estimates showed continued good brown trout recruitment in this section of the Taylor River. Total biomass and the density of quality sized trout were estimated to be higher in 2006 than most previous years surveyed. It is expected that optimized winter flow fluctuations and good summer flow patterns have benefited the Taylor River fishery in recent years. 2008 should see overall flows higher than normal, but flow releases out of Taylor Reservoir should significantly moderate high flows and create adequate flows for angling for most of the summer time period. Lower Gunnison, Uncompahgre, and San Miguel River Basins Dan Kowalski – Montrose (970-252-6017) email@example.com Gunnison River Below Crystal Reservoir The Gunnison River in the Black Canyon and Gunnison Gorge is designated Gold Medal and is managed as a category 406 special regulations stream. New fishing regulations were put in place in 2007 removing the slot limit on brown trout and extending the Gold Medal reach downstream 4 miles below the North Fork confluence. The current regulations, extending from Crystal Dam downstream to the Relief Ditch diversion, are fishing by artificial flies and lures only, catch and release on rainbow trout, and a bag limit of 4 brown trout of any size. Anglers are encouraged to take advantage of the new regulation and harvest small brown trout from the Gunnison. Fishing in the Gunnison River should be excellent in 2008. Biomass and density of trout estimates in 2007 were at record highs, with over 9,600 fish per mile over 6 inches and 438 pounds per acre of biomass. The Ute Park reach had higher numbers of fish, but the trout populations below the Smith Fork had larger average size and more rainbows. Wild reproduction of the whirling disease resistant rainbows stocked into the Gunnison was first documented in 2007 and rainbow numbers are expected to slowly improve in the next several years. Uncompahgre River Below Ridgway Reservoir The Uncompahgre River from Ridgway Reservoir to the town on Montrose is managed both as a category 406 special regulation stream and category 507 sportfish intensive coldwater stream. Fishing should be good for rainbows, browns, and cutthroats in Ridgway State Park and good for brown trout lower in the river with a few large rainbows being caught as well. Low winter releases from Ridgway again impacted fish populations in 2007 in the upper reaches of the river. Special regulations apply in Ridgway State Park, fishing by artificial flies and lures only, catch and release. A large habitat improvement project was completed in Baldrige Park in Montrose and the one mile reach upstream from Main St. Bridge has fished well. Expect a large and long lasting runoff in 2008. San Miguel River The San Miguel River is managed as both a category 302 wild trout stream and a 507 sportfish intensive coldwater stream. Fishing should be good for rainbows below Placerville, fair for browns and rainbows between Placerville and the South Fork, and good for small brook trout near Telluride. Expect a large and prolonged runoff on the San Miguel this year. Silverjack Reservoir (318 ac) Located 20 miles south of Cimarron, Silverjack Reservoir is managed as a category 403 sportfish optimum coldwater lake. In 2008 fishing should be good for 9 to 14 inch rainbow trout and cutbows. Ridgway Reservoir (1030 ac) Located 20 miles south of Montrose, Ridgway Reservoir is managed as a category 505 sportfish intensive coldwater lake. In 2008, this reservoir should provide good fishing for 10 to 14 inch rainbow trout and the opportunity for trophy brown trout in the 10 to 20 lbs. range. Splake were introduced into the reservoir in 2007 but won’t make a noticeable part of the catch for a few more years. Fishing should be fair to good for smaller kokanee salmon (9 to 12 inch) in deep water in the summer and the inlet areas in the fall. Miramonte Reservoir (405 ac) Located 20 miles south of Norwood, Miramonte Reservoir is managed as a category 403 sportfish optimum coldwater lake. In 2008 it should provide good fishing for rainbow trout in the 14 to 16 inch range along with the opportunity to catch a few brown trout up to 18 inches. After several years of low recruitment of rainbow fingerlings, numbers are back up and fishing should be good for the next several years. Lower Gunnison, Uncompahgre, and San Miguel River Basins (continued) Confluence Lake (18 ac) Located in the town of Delta, Confluence Lake is managed as a category 502 sport sportfish intensive coldwater lake. This lake will no longer be managed as warmwater sport fishery due to a change in the water management by the city of Delta. Fishing should be good for catchable sized rainbow trout in the spring and fall with fair fishing for bass, sunfish, and crappie in the spring and summer. Crawford Reservoir (392 ac) Located 1 mile south of the town of Crawford, this reservoir is managed as a category 602 warmwater mixed species lake. Fishing this year at Crawford should be good for pike and fair for rainbows and smaller black crappie. Fishing is expected to be poor for yellow perch with very few quality sized fish being present and slow for largemouth bass. Fishing for larger than average catfish is expected to remain good. Fishing should be good for northern pike in the spring with some trophy sized fish in the 15 to 25 lbs. range possible. The DOW has tagged many pike at Crawford as part of a population monitoring effort. If any pike are caught with a yellow plastic tag near the dorsal fin, please leave the tag at the State Park office if the fish is harvested. Island Lake (177 ac) Located 15 miles north of Cedaredge, Island Lake is managed as a category 504 sportfish intensive coldwater lake. This reservoir should provide good fishing for 10 to 14 inch rainbow trout as well as the opportunity for good upcoming year classes of splake. Young’s Creek Reservoir #3 (23 ac) Located 15 miles north of Cedaredge, Young’s Creek #3 is managed as a category 402 sportfish optimum coldwater lake. Fishing should be fair to good for cutthroat trout. Special regulations apply; artificial flies and lures only, catch and release on cutthroat trout. Young’s Creek Reservoir #1&2 (52 ac) Located 15 miles north of Cedaredge, Young’s Creek #1&2 is managed as a category 402 sportfish optimum coldwater lake. Fishing is expected to be poor due to frequent draw downs. The reservoir has not held enough water recently to support a fishery. Special regulations apply; artificial flies and lures only, catch and release on cutthroat trout. Granby Reservoirs (various sizes) Located 15 miles north of Cedaredge, the Granby Reservoirs are managed as category 401 coldwater recreation lakes. Fishing should be good to excellent for cutthroat trout. Big Battlement Reservoir should provide good fishing for wild brook trout. San Juan River Basin Jim White – Durango (970-375-6712) or firstname.lastname@example.org Animas River The Animas River runs through Durango and is designated as one of Colorado’s Gold Medal fisheries. River flows are expected to be above average this summer because of the heavy snowpack in the San Juan Mountains. The best fishing times are just prior to runoff and post runoff in late-June through October. The Animas is famous for its huge caddis fly hatches in mid-June and large brown trout. Recent surveys (fall 2006) suggest the size and number of big trout in the “Standard” regulation reach of the Animas (32nd St to Lightner Ck) equals or exceeds that of the “Gold Medal” catch and release section (Lightner Ck to Rivera Bridge). McPhee Reservoir (4470 ac) Located 1 mi west of Dolores McPhee Reservoir is known for its feisty smallmouth bass along with the opportunity to catch warmwater pan fish as well as trout and kokanee salmon. The water levels have been good over the past couple of years and should be high this year as well. Fishing should be good for smallmouth and largemouth bass. The trout fishing has improved with the stocking of larger catchable trout. Echo Canyon Reservoir (118 ac) This popular mixed species reservoir is located 4 miles south of Pagosa Springs on Highway 84. Fishing will be good for trout in the spring, largemouth bass in June, and green sunfish during the summer months. Some large yellow perch inhabit this very productive reservoir. Upper San Juan River This increasingly popular fishing destination is located within the city limits of Pagosa Springs. Fishing should be good when the water levels recede from an expected high runoff. Look for large rainbows in July and August thanks to the stocking program undertaken by the Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce. Large brown trout are also typically captured on brown and black jig patterns in the fall. Other tributaries to the upper San Juan include the East and West Forks of the San Juan River. Much of the West Fork is private; however, there is about 6 miles of public water on the East Fork of the San Juan located along FR 667 (10 mi E. of Pagosa on Hwy 160). Fishing is typically good during the months of July through October for rainbow and rainbow cutthroat hybrids (“cuttbows”) on grasshopper patterns or irresistibles. Vallecito Reservoir (2720 ac) Located 14 miles north of Bayfield (~20 mi NE of Durango) on County Road 501 Vallecito Reservoir is one of Colorado’s most beautiful Reservoirs. Vallecito has always been known for its trophy northern pike fishing especially just after “ice out” in mid-April. Because of the large pike population, the Division has started stocking 45,000 large 13-14 inch rainbow trout in the fall. This strategy has resulted in much improved angler catch rates and satisfaction. Fishing should be good this year, particularly for rainbow trout and pike. Some large walleye inhabit the lake but are rarely captured. The smallmouth bass is becoming increasingly popular with anglers. Kokanee salmon abundance is still low. Pastorious Reservoir (49 ac) Located approximately 10 miles southeast of Durango (take Hwy. 550 to Cty Rd 220; East to Cty. Rd. 301; S. on 301 to Cty. Rd. 304 and the lake) Pastorious is popular with local anglers. However, the lake experienced a partial “winter kill” during Colorado’s harshest winter in years. The lake will bounce back quickly with the stocking of numerous catchable rainbow trout in the next several weeks. San Juan River Basin (continued) Summit Reservoir (400 ac) Located almost exactly halfway between Mancos and Dolores (~9 mi either direction) off Highway 184 Summit Reservoir has spectacular views of Mesa Verde to the West. The reservoir is in transition after the CDOW removed all the fishes in the lake last year to rid it of an overabundant white sucker population. However, rainbow trout fishing should be excellent this year. The Division has already stocked 20,000 catchable trout in early March and plans to stock an additional 50,000 trout in the near future along with re-establishing warm water fishes in the reservoir. Puett Reservoir (145 ac) Puett Reservoir is located just below Summit Reservoir but to get to it one must continue west from the Summit turn in for approximately 2 miles to the 33 Rd which leads to the lake. Puett contains some good sized walleye and pan fishing. The lake should maintain a relative high water level this year. Totten Reservoir (250 ac) Located 1 mile East of Cortez on Highway 160 (take Cty Rd 29 1 mi N to lake) Totten Reservoir should be good for warmwater pan fish and the occasional large walleye. Jackson Gulch Reservoir (217 ac) Located 6 miles north of Mancos off Highway 184 (take 42 road to “Mancos State Park” and reservoir) this scenic reservoir supports rainbow trout and numerous yellow perch. Water levels are high and expected to stay above normal through the summer months. Joe Moore Reservoir (25 ac) Joe Moore is popular with local anglers. It is located 3 miles north of Mancos on County Rd 40 (sign at highway intersections says “Millwood Junction”). Joe Moore is typically good for larger yellow perch and feisty largemouth bass. However, the lake was low and weedy going into this winter and we do not know how the fishery survived. Groundhog Reservoir (500 ac) Groundhog Reservoir is located approximately 30 miles north of Dolores on road 526 (please consult a map for exact location). Groundhog should fish well this year for large rainbow and cutthroat trout.