When it comes to fly fishing in the winter, weather and location are obvious factors that come into play. With this taken into account, these inconsistent and often unpredictable day to day changes can result in some really awesome days out on the water and some tough ones as well.
We have been experiencing some warmer afternoons that break up the ice on the Yampa allowing anglers to fish waters closer to town. Since we are still very much in the middle of winter, that hasn’t been occurring too much yet, but we expect ice conditions to diminish as we head into warmer temperatures and an overall springtime atmosphere.
I suggest checking out the tailwaters at Stagecoach Reservoir or Sarvis because all year long this water remains unfrozen due to the consistent flow of how the water is released from the dam. There is no car access until April 1 due to elk migration, but you can bike, snowmobile, and hike into there.
If you decide to fish either of these spots, the type of fly is going to vary little. At the tailwaters stick to your midges, so a smaller wintertime midge hatch. These tend to be black, like small BWO’s, blood midges, RS2’s, zebra midges, and black brown olives. If you’re fishing in town, you’re going to want to mimic the smaller tailwater flies, but the biggest difference here is you’ll want to run something a little bigger on top to draw in the fish and catch their eye. So I’d suggest using stoneflies, worms, eggs, and hare’s ear.
We’ve been having a lot of fun getting out on the ice. There’s some snow on Steamboat Lake, but the ice is thick and there’s not much slush you’ll have to deal with. Conditions at Stagecoach are similar and you’ll mainly be targeting trout at both locations. Stick with your small jigs like a spoon or gulp minnow. At Stagecoach you’ll have the opportunity to fish for pike, so we suggest using bigger jerk bait and spoons.
Snowpack is 88 percent below average for the season, so we’re not expecting the best upcoming water season, but we’re remaining optimistic. Some years we can go an entire ski season with below average snowfall, only to get dumped on after the resort is closed.
Thanks for reading!