Winters in Steamboat offer fun opportunities for both ice fishing and winter fly fishing. The trout still need to eat, even in the winter weather. If you know what fly patterns to throw, you’ll find plenty of trout biting on cold winter days. It’s important to pick the right place to fish and some of the best winter waters are right here in the Yampa Valley.
If you want to hit the river, there are great public and private water options for fly fishing right now! We’ve led some great trips loaded with family fun and new experiences.
To get the most of a winter fly fishing experience, we like to keep a few things in mind:
Be patient. Slow and deep is best in the wintertime. Use a strike indicator and weighted fly so that your fly line is off the water. Trout aren’t likely to chase a fly in cold water so using a dead drift technique is critical.
Sleep in. This is one of the best things about winter fly fishing! The best time to find activity at the surface is in the middle of the afternoon on sunny days. On gray snowy days when there isn’t much wind, activity can be found more consistently throughout the day.
Keep note of where the fish hold. Fish tend to congregate in deeper, slower water in the winter. If you catch one, try not to disturb the water and see if any more fish are in the same place.
If you prefer ice fishing, recent trips to both Stage Coach Reservoir and Steamboat Lake have been great! Both are just about 25-30 miles outside of the Steamboat’s downtown area. Like fly fishing, you don’t have to get out at the crack of dawn in the winter. The late morning bite has been better!
Safety should be your first priority when ice fishing. Our experienced guides have plenty of knowledge on what to look out for.
Remember a few things:
-New ice is often stronger than old ice so a thinner layer of new ice can usually support more than a thicker layer of old ice.
-Ice usually doesn't freeze in a uniform manner so thickness will vary from one spot to the next, even in places within a few feet of each other.
-Be prepared. There is a lot of slush on the ice. With as much snow as we have had in the last few weeks, make sure to wear your best snow boots.
With the safety and gear check in place, it’s time to have a great day ice fishing on the lake. We have been seeing lots of rainbows in the 15” to 18” range as well as a few brook trout at Steamboat Lake! We’ve had some enjoyable groups come through, taking with them some unforgettable ice fishing experiences. And with ice fishing, you get to keep your prize! What will you do with your trout?