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Ghillies Report



Ghillies Hackle & Tackle Fly Shop Newsletter

Fishing Update
April 26, 2012

117 S Nevada Ave Colorado Springs CO 80903 Forward to a Friend



April may be winding down, but for area fishermen the hits just keep on coming.

River anglers are finding perfect conditions on the South Platte and many other streams, and although flows on the Arkansas River have come up a little, it remains in its pre-runoff stage. Lake fishermen continue to enjoy fairly consistent activity for trout that still are cruising in shallow water close to shore and looking to feed.


Blue-wing-olive mayflies remain the most reliable hatch on most streams, but caddis activity also is under way on the Arkansas River. Caddis were reported upstream as far as Howard earlier in the week, and if the weather cooperates they should be at

Salida and possibly above by the weekend. Hatches have not yet been of the raging-blizzard variety, with great clouds of the bugs everywhere in the air, but when caddis are hatching the trout have been very interested. The pace has been less hectic, as preferred by most fishermen.


If caddis are not hatching, chances are the mayflies will be, even on the Arkansas, especially on overcast days. The BWOs have been coming off the several segments of the South Platte, providing some excellent dry fly fishing.


Lake fishermen have been doing well on Spinney Mountain, Antero and Elevenmile reservoirs, although the peak activity is less predictable. Streamer flies, egg patterns, leeches and scuds continue to produce their share of fish, along with smaller varieties of midges. The annul Chironmidae hatch, with swarms of large, humming insects everywhere, is the first major lake hatch of the season. It usually begins around Memorial Day on the South Park reservoirs, but with the unusually warm recent weather, don't be surprised to begin seeing the large midges in another week or two.


Closer to home, the Pikes Peak North Slope reservoirs are to open for the season on May 1, according to the Pikes Peak Highway staff. The three reservoirs have decent numbers of holdover trout from last year, are regularly stocked and also offer resident mackinaw (lake trout) that are in shallow water early in the season.

Ghillies Fly Fishing Conditions Report

South Platte River, Elevenmile Canyon: Through some minor fluctuations, recent flows have been pretty close to 93 cubic feet per second, about the long-term average for the date. Rainbow trout appear to be finishing up their spawning cycle. Fishing has been good. Blue-wing-olives are the primary attraction, with cloudy days producing especially good dry fly fishing. If surface activity is not evident, nymphs and emergers such as Pheasant Tails and RS-2s have been effective. Though solitude remains elusive, the crowds typical of the canyon in winter and early spring have diminished somewhat.


South Platte River, Dream Stream: Recent flows have been fairly steady around 102 cfs, about average for the date. The main spawning run from Elevenmile Reservoir has about run its course and springtime crowds are down. Blue-wing-olives are likely to come off on most days, though the hatches may be scattered. The section from the barns upstream to the dam tends to be best for resident fish. Pheasant Tails, RS-2s and little midges have been effective.

South Platte River, Deckers area: Recent flows have been steady at bout 100 cfs, which is a close to the long-term average and a very good level for fishing. Both Cheesman Canyon and portions of the lower river have been fishing quite well. Some long-time observers believe the fishing is the best since the fires of a decade ago, Blue-wing-olive hatches remain sporadic, but fish are tuned in to them. Much of the activity occurs in the afternoon, and the section above the Deckers bridge can become a bit crowded then Variations on the Adams pattern have been effective when trout are rising to the mayflies. Otherwise, try a gray or olive RS-2 or a small Flashback Pheasant Tail. A fine leader tippet and drag-free presentation remain ever-important. Midges and assorted nymphs also are on the menu for trout. The fish generally have good color and appear somewhat larger than in the past year or two.


Arkansas River, upper: Wednesday afternoon's flows were 363 cfs below Granite, 308 at Wellsville and 321 cfs at Parkdale. The river has been rising from tributary flows and increased releases from Twin Lakes but remains at a good level for fishing. Though tributaries might add a touch of ice tea to the river, it remains fishably clear. Caddis have appeared upstream as far as Howard, and unless cooler weather and the increased flow slow things down, should be in Salida and above by the end of the week. Fishing the caddis hatch can be good on a given day and blue-wing-olives continue to hatch, offering anglers two very good possibilities. If tout are not rising to either, drifting a nymph can be productive.


Arkansas River, Pueblo: The release from Pueblo Dam was 274 on Wednesday, up from the past few weeks but still considerable below average for the date. Consequently the river remains at a good level for fishing. Blue-wing-olives and midges still are coming off, and streamer flies and nymphs also can be effective. The crowds of the winter months have all but disappeared. Fishing can be good, but anglers are reminded that flows below the dam are subject to some dramatic fluctuations as the irrigation season in the valley below gets under way.


Antero Reservoir: Little has changed. Shoreline and belly-boating fishermen report fair to good action, though most of the trout have been smaller than anglers have come to expect the past few years. Even so, an occasional larger fish has been taken. Woolly Buggers scuds and leeches have worked as well as anything. Fishing usually is best when a moderate chop is on the surface. The lake will open to trailered boats on May 3. The north boat ramp will be open seven days a week, and the south ramp will be open Thursday through Monday. Belly boats, pontoons and similar hand-launched craft may be used at any time. Only small trailered boats, canoes, belly boats and other smaller craft will be able to launch from the south ramp, while any size boat can access the north boat ramp. All boats must be inspected for aquatic nuisance species before entering the water.


Inspection stations are located at each boat ramp. Inspections and trailered boating will end Oct. 31.The reservoir is to remain at last year's drawn-down level throughout 2012.


Spinney Mountain Reservoir: Fishing might have slowed a little but remains quite good. Trout still are cruising along the shoreline looking for feed. Small midges, Woolly Buggers and scuds have been productive. The Chironomidae hatch, the first major hatch of the season, usually begins in late May, but with the unusually warm recent weather it might start earlier. The rainbow-trout spawning season is winding down, but the Homestake ditch and South Platte River inlet areas still are productive locations for fishing. Shoreline fishermen looking for variety also have reported catching some northern pike on streamer flies. The river above the reservoir still is producing good-sized trout and should remain a good location until the flow comes up.


Pikes Peak North Slope: All three reservoirs will open for the season on May 1. Admission, payable at the Pikes Peak Highway tollgate, will be $4 per person.

Entry, payable at the Pikes Peak Highway tollgate, costs $4 per person. Children under 16 are admitted free. Season passes also are available.


North Catamount Reservoir is open to fishing with artificial flies and lures only; other methods are OK at Crystal and South Cat. The area-wide limit for lake trout (mackinaw) is two fish. Belly-boats and other hand-carried, non-gasoline-powered craft are permitted. No trailers are allowed.

Ghillies Notes

dow licenseA LICENSE TO FISH

Anglers are reminded that their 2011 Colorado fishing licenses expired at the end of March. New licenses are required after April 1, and are valid through March 31, 2013. Licenses can easily be renewed online. Log on to link below, click on the Buy & Apply for Licenses link and scroll down to the Start Now box.

Click here to start

SNOWPACK'S LOW: According to preliminary data released by the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Colorado Snow Survey, anglers are likely to encounter unusually low stream flows as the season progresses. The statewide snowpack was 50 percent of average at the end of March, the lowest measurement since the survey began in 1968 and even lower than 2002, at the height of the most-recent drought. Though the outlook still could change with heavy snow and rain in April and May, river flows are expected to be significantly below last year. Reservoir storage remains good, however, boosted by last year's high runoff. Start-of-April snowpacks were:

River basin Snowpack % of average Snowpack % of last year

Arkansas 56 54

South Platte 55 45

Colorado 50 40

Blue 56 41

Gunnison 56 49

Rio Grande 53 69

Animas/San Juan 54 63

Poudre 55 30

Yampa/White 52 39

ANTERO TO REMAIN LOW: Denver Water has announced that Antero Reservoir will remain at its current drawn-down level through 2012. The reservoir will remain open for recreation and Colorado Parks and Wildlife will continue to manage the fishery. The reservoir was lowered by two feet last May as part of an ongoing engineering evaluation of the dam. The dam has experienced excessive seepage for many years and has been under a storage restriction by the state since the early 1990s.

HAPPY MEADOWS STREAM IMPROVEMENTS: The U.S. Forest Service South Park Ranger District is proposing to continue the Happy Meadows Restoration Project during August and September along a 2-mile section of the South Platte River below Lake George. Restoration efforts include reduction of the width-to-depth ratio and adding structure to increase the bank stability. A copy of the plan is available for review at the South Park Ranger District office in Fairplay.


Free Parking

Unlike many a pull-off along a favorite stretch or river, Ghillies has plenty of free, downtown parking next to the shop. When coming north on Nevada Avenue, just turn right into the driveway by the Ghillies sign and pull into one of the parking spaces.

Ghillies Hackle & Tackle Fly Shop | 117 S NEVADA AVE | Colorado Springs | CO | 80903

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