Not a lot has changed in the last few weeks with fishing and the river conditions. The Yampa River is still fluctuating between mid 60’s and mid 70’s daily. The Elk is a little cooler but not much. This means getting on the river early and getting off the river by one or two. Hook a trout midday right now and the lack of dissolved oxygen in the river will become apparent. If a fish does not have energy to fight you, it likely does not have energy to recover. The mortality rate of catch and release fishing skyrockets as water temperatures increase, so be responsible fishermen out there.
Heavy amounts of algae are typical in warm water years, this one being no different. To avoid the headache of constantly cleaning your flies try large terrestrials like hoppers and beetles with a dropper, or just throw a single hopper. The hopper bite has been fantastic this year and often hoppers have been the most productive option from late morning to midday quitting time. Fish will move in deep water on the hopper but don’t be afraid to fish the head of the riffles- by 9 or 10am the trout have moved into the fast, shallow stuff.
Tricos are still the main hatch right now and should continue into September. They can be a frustrating little may fly to fish true-to-size, so throwing black midge patterns in sizes 16 and 18, both surface and subsurface, can yield plenty of eats and much better hook ups. Between 9 o’clock and 11 o’clock in the morning the soft tail outs of any holding area will have multiple fish sipping spinners. This scenario can be extremely rewarding, but also equally frustrating on any given day. Five or 6X tippit and good eyesight are must have for fishing a Trico hatch effectively.
Streamer Fishing continues to be tough due to warm water conditions and a lack of incentive for large fish to exert themselves too much while feeding. If you’re going to throw them, throw them early and keep them off the bottom or you’ll be stripping a clump of algae instead of the bait fish. Lakes and reservoirs continue to fish well early and late. Leeches subsurface stripped deep, and terrestrial dry flies as searching patterns, are your best bet for the reservoirs as well as high mountain lakes. High elevation lakes and streams are a fantastic option in warm water years as those fish are less stressed and therefore often more aggressive up higher.
Despite the low warm water this summer the fishing has continued to stay stellar. If you’re willing to play the Trico game, fish emergers before the hatch and spinners after. If you consider Trico to be a curse word, grab your favorite hopper pattern and just cover water, they’ll eat it.
Tight lines and responsible fishing, we’ll see you out there.
Written by Straightline Guide Ben Rock