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3/2/24 Fishing Report

Updated: Apr 23

Here is the fishing report, effective March 1st - March 30th, from Straightline Outdoor Sports in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. 

By John Camponeschi for Straightline Outdoor Sports

Reporting Guide: Ben Rock

Over the course of the last month, the Yampa River has opened up significantly. The town stretch through Steamboat Springs has opened up to just before Milner. 

“It’s kind of a typical spring warm-up, which you see in February,” said Straightline guide Ben Rock.

The Pleasant Valley stretch, above Catamount Reservoir, has continued to improve and open up as well. The lake-run cutbows out of the reservoir have started to run, which is slightly earlier than usual. A normal run would be mid-March but the temperatures and mild weather has led to them running early.

“It is one of the first spring bites that anglers really focus on,” said Rock. “It brings a lot of anglers in from local areas and out of state as they focus on these big Catamount lake-runs. It is a very exciting run to be a part of.”

“It tends to be a ‘get it while it’s good situation’ until the river blows out,” he said. 

This is exciting for our clients and guides, as Straightline Sports offers exclusive access to the Kuntz Ranch, which sits on this exact portion of the Yampa river. This thrilling opportunity will continue until the river starts to muddy with the highwater of spring runoff.

Here is a section report of the Yampa River:

The Tailwater

Predominantly, you should still be thinking midges and scuds for this section of the river. Soon  however, you will see an increased amount of fish being receptive to a range of baetis, or blue-winged olive, sub-surface imitations. This is due to the staging period where the nymphs migrate out of the substrate and onto the surface of the rocks.

“Generally, when you are about a month away from seeing a hatch, it’s a good idea to start throwing the larval form of that hatch,” said Rock.

Additionally, leeches and eggs are beginning to do well in the tailwater section. 

6x fluorocarbon tippet is recommended due to the fact that the water is still clear and because the fish have been heavily pressured in this area throughout the winter months. 

Sarvis Area:

“Sarvis is a little bit more opportunistic for throwing your whole fly box at these fish right now,” explained Rock. “Once you hit the Sarvis section, you start to see other food sources for the trout.”

Leeches, midges and scuds are great patterns to present to the fish in addition to streamers and eggs.

“You can certainly throw more eggs right now in Sarvis because the Catamount lake-runs have made it into the Sarvis area,” he said. “They are going to be laid up in the deepest, slowest holes with their bellies scraping the bottom.” 

“They are pretty fixated on spawning and less on grazing and eating,” explained Rock. “You kind of need to put flies right in their face and you need to use items that they respond to, which in this situation includes eggs. 

The best egg colors are Oregon cheese, apricot, and the glo-bug, a rather “obnoxious” chartreuse pattern which is really effective at moving big fish. 

You can also throw streamers low and slow, letting the river do most of the work and jigging it slowly and bumping it on the bottom. You want to stay barely connected enough to detect a strike without having too much influence on the action of the streamer.

Town Stretch (Chuck Lewis to the west city limits of Steamboat Springs): 

The town stretch is going to be similar to Sarvis, minus the lake-runs and a higher prevalence of stocked trout. 

The spawn in the town stretch is generally a month behind the Pleasant Valley stretch, though Rock stated anglers would be wise to also use diverse nymphs rigs as well. That said, eggs can still move fish. A good combination for this section of water is a jig-head leech, to a worm, to a bead (a modified bacon-and-eggs combo), with the leech serving as the weight to pull the trailing flies down to the bottom. 

“I find that having a point leech is really productive,” said Rock. “The beauty of having that point leech is that it gets your rig down while also giving you a ton of forgiveness in your drift. When you have a leech as your point fly, every time you mend, now you have action and that might trigger a bite that you might not have had otherwise.”

You can also use your favorite confidence flies owing to the fact that there are more stocked trout in this section of the river. These stocked trout, according to Rock, are slightly less educated than the wild trout who are more prevalent in other sections of the river.

“In this section of the river you have fish with PhDs in what the river has and you have fish that are just starting to figure it out,” explained Rock. 

Some of the essential patterns that anglers should have on hand are leeches, eggs, worms, streamers and midges. 

In this section, anglers should still be targeting deep and slow stretches with lighter tippet due to the clear water, particularly focusing on the tail-out of the runs. As the month progresses, fish will move up a little bit towards shallow and faster waters.  

Float Fishing:

Presently, float fishing is not an option, though Rock does believe that it should open towards the middle of the month in the “town stretch” area and in early April downstream from Steamboat Springs.

That said, anglers are warned to be sure the river is entirely open and that ice sheets have totally cleared prior to attempting to float the river. Float anglers can call Straightline Sports once they start to see trailers and other boats on the water prior to heading out on a float trip. 

As The Water Rises:

As the water rises and begins to gain some color, anglers should switch to heavier tippets and bigger flies due to the decreased clarity of the water as well as the need to be able to jockey big fish in stronger currents. Rock pointed out that these heavier tippets, and larger flies, will allow anglers to move fish towards the bank since wading in the higher waters of spring runoff is not safe. As the water rises, streamers will increase in effectiveness as well. 

To book guided trips on public water or on one of our exclusive private ranches, anglers should call Straightline Sports at (970) 879-7568. 

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