Colorado Fishing Conditions – February 23, 2018

PICT Fishing at the Toilet Bowl - CPW
Published Friday, February 23, 2018

Conditions Report - Statewide

Rivers and Creeks

Now that it is the end of February, we have noticed a shift in fishing conditions. We are seeing low flows and clear waters. This means anglers must be more careful not to spook the fish when approaching the water. Browns have also finished spawning for the season, so be cautious of redds when wading along the rivers. With the lack of the waters being iced over, anglers are not necessarily restricted to primarily rely on tailwaters, which refer to the waters below dams or any other structure that regulates water flow. The regulated water flow keeps the spots from freezing over and provides warmth for the cold-blooded trout. Even with the warmer conditions of these waters, the fish will still behave sluggishly. Fish diets in the winter are made up primarily of midges and an assortment of small blue-winged olive nymphs and are occasionally supplemented by larger mayflies, annelids, trout eggs, stoneflies, and even caddis larva. Winter fishing typically consists of a lot of nymph fishing since the trout are not overly active due to the cold water temperatures, so try using stonefly nymphs and imitation midges. Remember that the hatches are much smaller in the winter, so keep your flies in the #16 to #20 range. It is also important to be mindful of your split shot usage. With the fish being sluggish, they aren't going to divert too much for food, so making sure those flies drift directly in their path is important. Be sure not to use too much split shot though because the last thing you'll want to do is to have to retrieve a snag in those cold waters. As the trout continue to get a later start, anglers should mirror that and look for ideal times to be from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Colorado Fishing Atlas

Conditions Report - Northwest Colorado

Vega

The lake is fully covered by ice and fishing is excellent at this time. Anglers are reporting catching rainbows and cutthroats in the 14-16 inch range using meal worms, jigs with wax worms and shrimp. There is approximately 10-12 inches of ice on the lake with considerable slush on top of the ice. Please be aware that ice depths vary across the lake. We currently have about 8-10 inches of snow on the ground. The Visitor's Center is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Vega State Park

Highline Lake/Mack Mesa Lake

Highline Lake will re-open to boating March 1, 2018, if ice and lake conditions allow. No boats are currently allowed on Highline Lake. Mack Mesa is free of ice, and was stocked last week with 800 12 inch trout, so the fishing should be good. Highline Lake was also stocked last week with 800 12 inch trout. Highline has a very small section of ice in the middle of the lake, on the southern end, and the rest of the lake is ice-free. Fishing licenses are available at the Visitor Center. Currently, usual hours are 8 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday. You must have a valid ID and social security number, or a CID number and an email address to purchase a fishing license. If you have a blue license from a previous year, the process of purchasing a current license will be much easier. 
Highline Lake/Mack Mesa Lake

Pearl Lake

The ice is approximately 20+ inches thick and is in good shape. Please note that only flies & lures are allowed, with a bag limit of two trout 18 inches or longer. In the winter, the road is only maintained to approximately 3/4 of a mile from the lake. Anglers have to ski or hike from that point. There has been very little fishing pressure on Pearl Lake to speak of.
Pearl Lake

Steamboat Lake

As of 2/21/2018 ice was 8 to 10 inches with some slush in the Marina cove. Ice fishing is available during the winter months. Ice conditions can vary, so please use caution. Before going out onto a frozen lake, pond or river, it's important to take safety precautions to reduce the risk of falling through the ice. Knowing how to judge ice conditions will also help you make more informed decisions while enjoying winter activities.
Steamboat Lake

Stagecoach Reservoir

There is approximately 20 inches of ice. Fishing has been good for catchable rainbow trout throughout the lake coves and at the inlet area in about 8 to 12 feet, as well as 20-30 feet of water. An assortment of terminal tackle has been producing, such as jigs tipped with PowerBait, wax worms, night crawlers, etc., tube jigs, plugs, castmasters, and solo night crawlers. Northern pike fishing has been slow, but some small ones are being picked up sporadically. For the benefit of the resource, anglers are strongly encouraged to harvest northern pike and walleye.
Stagecoach Reservoir

Conditions Report - Northeast Colorado

Eleven Mile State Park

The cold is back. The open water is substantial points West and will not refreeze that's for sure. Ice is still from North Shore Marina to points East and it is still 12 to 14 inches. It looks like about 30% of the lake is shore fishable. If you ice fish Witchers Cove or Coyote Ridge to points East you won't see open water. Areas around rocks should be avoided but overall ice remaining is good. New snow got blown around but it was nice to see. Some snow spots some ice spots on the ice. Cold weather will surely firm up the ice.
Eleven Mile State Park

Delaney Butte Lakes

As of 2/22/2018 the average low temperature was 16 degrees Fahrenheit and our average high temperature was 37 degrees Fahrenheit. We did receive a couple inches of snow this past week on different days, but the roads are accessible to Lake John, Cowdrey and the Delaney Buttes as of 2/22/2018. Fishing has been active, fisherman are doing well with a little bit of everything lately. All the Delaney's ice is between 15-17 inches thick. 
Delaney Butte Lakes SWA

Cowdrey

This 80 acre reservoir is located along Highway 125, seven miles north of Walden. As of 2/22/2018 the average low temperature was 16 degrees Fahrenheit and our average high temperature was 37 degrees Fahrenheit. We did receive a couple inches of snow this past week on different days, but the roads are accessible to Lake John, Cowdrey and the Delaney Buttes as of 2/22/2018. Cowdrey's ice is pushing 19 inches thick.
Cowdrey

Lake John

As of 2/22/2018 the average low temperature was 16 degrees Fahrenheit and our average high temperature was 37 degrees Fahrenheit. We did receive a couple inches of snow this past week on different days, but the roads are accessible to Lake John, Cowdrey and the Delaney Buttes as of 2/22/2018. Lake John's ice is between 15-17 inches thick and roughly 2-3 inches of snow on the ice except for drifts around the edges, these can be one to three feet deep. Fishing has been active, fisherman are doing well with a little bit of everything lately.
Lake John

Bear Creek

As of 2/19/2018 ice thickness ranged between 8-10 inches with soft shorelines. There was some open water near the inlet area. Fishing has been slow for Saugeye and fair for trout. Jigging spoons or small glow jigs tipped with wax worms and minnow heads are producing well for trout. 
Bear Creek Reservoir

Dillon

As of 2/18/2018 there was approximately 15 inches of ice. Ice thickness varies across the reservoir and caution is advised to anyone venturing out onto the ice. 
Dillon Reservoir

Granby Lake

As of 2/19/2018 there was approximately 9-12 inches of ice. Success has been reported using tubes with sucker meat, tube jig, wax worms, and meal worms. 
Granby Lake

St. Vrain State Park

As of 2/16/2018 at 07:50 ice was ranging from 0-3 inches. All ponds have open water. We do not recommend going onto ice until it is approximately 4 inches thick and healthy. We consider healthy ice to be solid, clear, and bluish in color, without any major cracking or trapped air pockets. Parking is limited near Sandpiper Pond, DO NOT park in campsites without a valid permit.
St. Vrain State Park

Conditions Report - Southeast Colorado

Arkansas River

February 22nd - Upper River: The cold nights on the upper river will make fishing the upper Arkansas very difficult this time of year. It has iced up a lot above the Twin Lakes confluence, and can be challenging to effectively fish, if you can even find any active fish in the limited open water. Better conditions will be found further to the south below Buena Vista and near Salida throughout the winter. February 22nd - Middle River: With a little cooler weather today (~40 degrees this afternoon), dress appropriately for snow if you're going to get out on the river. Sometimes the snowy days can be excellent. We should remain in the 40s-50s this week, which should make for some good opportunities on the river. The middle basin directly above Salida to Stone Bridge has been the most productive as of late, but even the river near Buena Vista may offer some opportunities on the warmest days. Midge activity will get fish moving mid-morning through the afternoon, but don't be surprised if fish eat caddis larva and larger attractor patterns, as well. Fish will not be far from deep runs and pools, and will likely be concentrated together in the best winter lies. Midges are usually the most plentiful food items available on these colder days, but fish will give larger food a look if it drifts into them. Stonefly nymphs and other attractors like hare's ears, prince nymphs, and pheasant tails are all effective as larger offerings. February 22nd - Below Salida: We're looking at a cloudy, potentially snowy day here in Salida, probably hitting 40 degrees this afternoon. Dress appropriately, and sometimes the snowy days can be excellent. We'll be warming up again throughout the week, with temperature reaching the 40s-50s. Midge activity mid-day seems to be ticket most of the time, but if you're lucky a morning caddis larval drift may bring fish into shallower runs to intercept. On warmer days, getting an earlier start has begun paying dividends, as more insect activity starts the feed-train earlier in the day. 9:00 is not too early to start fishing. On colder days, wait until 10:00 or 10:30. Stonefly nymphs, caddis larva, and midge larva have been producing in the mornings, with midge pupa and immature mayfly nymphs becoming more available mid-day. Fish are now podded up in or near winter (deep) water, so where you find one fish, there are usually more. Fish have begun moving into shallower water at times as food is available (2-3 feet depth) so don't neglect those areas! Current flows make for ideal wade fishing conditions near Salida. Though floating is still possible, current flows require you to boat right on top of lots of the best holding water, whereas wade fisherman can target the prime lies without disturbing fish. Strong midge activity has had fish moving in the morning and active through the afternoon on the warmer days. The volume of subsurface food this time of year usually makes for nymphing. Midges are active throughout the day, and mayfly nymphs sizes #16-18 work well through the afternoons. The key is finding the right water. Spend more time picking apart likely lies just inside the main current and adjusting dropper depth until you find the sweet spot. Deeper water fished with a tandem fly rig should be your best bet in the morning, but don't ignore shallower runs and riffles in the afternoons. Best hours of the day are 10am - 3pm where sun is on the water. 
Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area

Lathrop State Park

The surface temperature on Martin Lake is around 28.1 degrees Fahrenheit. The surface is currently open water, but ice will form on colder nights. Temperatures this winter have not been cold enough to produce ice thick enough to fish on. Use extreme caution before attempting to traverse any newly formed ice. Wear a life jacket and make sure to measure the thickness of the ice every 10-15 feet as you move away from shore. Ice fishing is not recommended. Visitors have been fishing from shore. Some have had success using rooster tails and kastmasters. Several large trout between 19-23 inches and up to 3 pounds have been caught on similar lures. The surface temperature of Horseshoe Lake is about 29 degrees Fahrenheit. Horseshoe Lake is currently free of ice. Visitors have reported less success in Horseshoe, but some smaller trout are being caught. Variations of PowerBait including rainbow and cheese styles have been used to catch fish recently. 
Lathrop State Park

Trinidad Reservoir

The lake is at 1013 surface acres with a surface elevation of 6206.16 feet. Weak ice has receded to only the coves and Reilly Canyon, about 30% coverage. Prior to ice forming, shore fishermen were catching trout on homemade dough bait and PowerBait (green color). Be aware of stress fractures in the ice and open water. 
Trinidad Reservoir

Conditions Report - Southwest Colorado

Crawford State Park

Crappie and perch are biting. There have been reports of catfish, trout and pike, also. Remember, we have ice fishing gear that we can loan out to you, thanks to a grant from The Colorado Parks Foundation. A full set includes: 4 poles, bucket, scoop, lures, auger and fish finder. Just bring in your driver's license. Currently the ice measures anywhere from 6-10 inches. Please drill test holes along the way to be sure that the integrity of the ice is safe to your liking. Ice conditions change daily. It is up to you to judge based on your location.
Crawford State Park

Mancos

The lake is mostly open water. Mancos is a great place for consistent action from rainbow trout and yellow perch. Most of the trout action is from 10-12 inch fish, but there's very good opportunity at an 18-20 inch trout and a few 12+ inch perch. Great opportunity for kids to catch fish. Most anglers are finding success with bait (PowerBait, eggs, and crawlers) fishing just off bottom or under a slip bobber. For a chance at the yellow perch and trout, a small jig fished under a bobber on a long leader and tipped with a piece of worm is a good bet. Casting or trolling typical in-line spinners (Panther Martins, Mepps) from boats, are another approach at the trout. Hand-launchable boats (non-motorized kayaks, canoes, belly boats, etc) are a great way to fish the lake in this off-season. This is the first year in more than 15 years that the lake has not gotten decent ice to fish. A park pass is required on vehicles in the park. Daily park passes are available at the self-serve pay station at the park entrance.
Mancos State Park

Navajo Reservoir

Fishing has slowed with water temps dropping. The water temperature at the Two Rivers Marina is about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Colorado and New Mexico fishing licenses for the 2018-2019 season will go on sale later in March and are available at the Visitor Center. Social security numbers are required for license purchase. ID is required for purchase of all Colorado licenses. Please remember to bring sunscreen, insect repellent and clothes appropriate for changes in the weather.
Navajo Reservoir

Conditions Report - Metro Denver Area

Aurora Reservoir

Ice conditions are poor. Ice thickness ranges from 0-4 inches and the only ice is in the coves. Water level is coming up. A majority of the reservoir is open water. There is plenty of open water for shore anglers. The dam is completely open. Keep in mind that conditions can change daily. Trout fishing from shore has been slow to fair using PowerBait from the dam. For more information call 303-326-8425. Closed to boating at this time; this includes all hand launched watercraft such as float tubes, kayaks, and paddle boards etc. Boating is scheduled to reopen March 15th, 2018 depending on ice conditions.
Aurora Reservoir

Cherry Creek

Cherry Creek is an 880 acre reservoir. Ice had all melted by 2/16/2018. Trout fishing is rated as fair to good. Best areas have been off Tower Loop, Mountain Loop. Visitors have been using PowerBait, meal worms, night crawlers, and various jigs. No other reports on any other species at this time. For more information please call 303-690-1166.
Cherry Creek Reservoir

Quincy Reservoir

Currently closed for the season. Quincy is scheduled to reopen March 1st, 2018. Opening to boating is dependent on ice conditions. For more information call 303-326-8425.
Quincy Reservoir