Conditions Report - Statewide
Ice conditions on the Front Range were improving and some of the reservoirs had enough ice to safely fish but this weekend temperatures are expected to increase (close to 60 degrees is expected in Denver on Saturday) which can quickly change conditions. It is important to use caution near shorelines, which can melt out as the day goes on. There are also windy conditions expected across much of the state this weekend. Use extreme caution if you go out and make sure to check ice conditions as you venture out. The rivers and streams are entering winter mode especially in the higher elevations. A lot of the high elevation rivers and streams have iced over. Low flows, cold temperatures, and clear water mean the fish are stacking in the deeper pools and runs. If you do find open water in higher elevation rivers and streams use caution and a stealthy approach. It is the time of year to start focusing your attention to the tail waters. The regulated water flow keeps the spots from freezing over and provides warmth for cold-blooded trout. Even with the warmer conditions in these waters, fish will behave sluggishly. Fish diets in the winter are made up primarily of midges and an assortment of small blue-winged olive nymphs which are occasionally supplemented by larger mayflies, annelids, trout eggs, stoneflies, and even caddis larva. Winter fishing typically consists of a lot of nymph fishing because the trout are not overly active due to the colder water temperatures. Hatches are smaller during the winter, so keep your flies in the #16 to #20 range. Send us pictures of those catches so you can show off your angling fame to your friends and family!
Colorado Fishing Atlas
Conditions Report - Northeast Colorado
Eleven Mile State Park
Report from the Eleven Mile Marina Weekly Fishing Report. As of 12/26/2019, the lake is 100% capped with thickness running 7 to 11 inches. About 4 inches of snow on the ice. All fishing access areas are open. Roads are clear and dry with a few icy spots. Expect subzero temperatures early morning with some warming but not much. The zoo plankton that we have seen in deep water is simply amazing. So thick it clouds your vision and even 15 feet down you can't see your jig. As of 1/2/2020, there are also reports of ice up to 14 inches thick, east of Suckers Cove. The bite can be slow so don't be afraid to use a variety of lures and baits. Anglers have had success in 15 to 20 feet of water for trout.
Eleven Mile State Park
As of 1/3/2020, there is good ice at the reservoir and trout fishing has been good in 7 to 15 feet of water using small tungsten jig heads tipped with meal, wax, or an earth worm. PowerBait and salmon eggs will also do the trick. There has been a lot of anglers at the reservoir but crowds have lessened as more bodies of water around the state have safe ice. Kastmasters and jigging spoons should also do the trick and can even catch the occasional pike. Ice is around 10 inches thick across most of the reservoir and is also packed with snow making it easier to walk across. Pink jigs have been working well and try keeping them around a foot off the bottom.
This 55 acre reservoir offers good fishing for wild brown trout and stocked rainbow trout. From Idaho Springs, continue west on I-70 to Georgetown exit. Go south under I-70 to second stop sign. Turn east and continue to the lake. Reported 12/24/2019, the lake is completely capped (ice at 10 inches in some areas) and the fishing has been hot lately especially right away in the morning! Things have slowed down a bit as temperatures increase in the afternoon and do not be afraid to move around and check new areas. Use caution near the bridge. Anglers have had success catching browns with small jigs tipped with meal worms and Kastmasters. Rainbows have been biting on small jig heads with plastics. Pink and white jigs have been the best. Bring your shelter, if you have one, to give you a break from the wind.
St. Vrain State Park
As of 12/29/2019, there are reports of about 2 inches of ice on some bodies of water in the park but nothing that is safe to stand on at this point! There are 11 fishable ponds at St. Vrain that are stocked on a regular basis. Ice fishing is allowed on all ponds except Pelican Pond, which has an aeration system that makes ice extremely dangerous. Ice fishing is not recommended when ice is less than 4 inches thick, cracking, or pocked. Bald Eagle Pond is artificial flies and lures only.
St. Vrain State Park
Red Feather Lakes
The Red Feather Lakes are northwest of Fort Collins about 20 miles west of Livermore. Ice thickness ranges depending on the lake and location on the lake and when venturing out on the ice, keep an eye out for any open water, and especially stay away from the islands and large rock outcroppings that tend to have the thinnest ice. Parvin, Dowdy and West lakes are located on the east side of town. Bellaire Lake is a bit further south off of CR 162 and there is a short walk into the lake. Bellaire is 10 acres and has rainbow trout around 10 inches. Dowdy Lake is 115 acres. West Lake is 25 acres and fishing is typically good with small jigs for both browns and rainbows. As of 1/3/2020, reports here are that the ice is around 4 inches so use extreme caution if fishing at West Lake. Anglers have had success using jigs tipped with worms. Parvin is 63 acres and fishing is typically more challenging, but browns and rainbows there are in excellent shape generally ranging from 12 to 16 inches. Note that Parvin is fly and lure only and has a different bag limit from other lakes in the area. Reports that Kastmasters are working the best here in about 15 to 20 feet of water. For updated fishing reports and ice conditions, contact the Fort Collins CPW office (970-472-4300).
Red Feather Lakes
As of 1/3/2020, some areas of the lake are starting to form ice, be advised that extreme caution is needed when venturing out onto early ice. The inlets and shallower areas of the lake are where ice is present with the main lake still being ice free. Shore anglers have reported success for rainbow trout to the east of the boat ramp, Marina inlet, or pump house. Keep an eye out for a decent panfish bite this winter through the ice. There was a recent report of ice, around 3 to 4 inches, east of the marina but this is still not the best and we will need some cooler weather to produce more stable ice.
Deckers and Cheesman Canyon
As of 12/28/2019, the big difference maker here is getting the correct amount of weight so the flies get to the bottom. Guides suggest using various baetis and egg patterns. The warm weather days in the forecast should improve the fishing and could even lend well to some late season dry fly fishing. Flows have been low and it can be difficult to catch the fish here so use stealth when approaching the river to increase your chances of success. Flows: 162 CFS below Chessman Reservoir (1/2/2020)
Deckers and Cheesman Canyon
As of 1/1/2020, this is usually one of the first bodies of water to form solid ice in Colorado because of its elevation. There is good ice at the lake and over 15 inches of ice has been reported in some areas. The lake is covered in snow and is easy to walk across. Anglers have reported marking fish in deeper water (40 or more feet) and that a variety of presentations have been producing a bite. Tungsten jigs, jigging shad raps, Kastmasters, and various spoons can entice trout here. If the bite is slow, move around!
Conditions Report - Southeast Colorado
Arkansas River- Salida to Canon City
As of 1/2/2020, water temperatures are in the high 30s with clear water clarity. Flows on this stretch of the river have not changed much. Fish will be more active during the warmest parts of the day so pay attention to weather and plan accordingly. Target deep pools and runs for hungry trout when the sun is shining. At this point, midges will make up the majority of a trout's diet but do not be afraid to try stonefly nymphs or caddis larva imitations. The area of the river near Salida will produce the best bite during the winter months. Flows should be higher than usual throughout the winter. Anglers should focus on fishing close to Salida to find open water and better fishing opportunities. Flows: 543 CFS at Wellsville (1/2/2020)
Arkansas River - Salida to Canon City
As of 1/2/2020, water temperatures are reported in the 40s and the walleye are still biting particularly at night. During the day anglers are getting good catches around 25 to 30 feet of water when vertical jigging slap Rapalas and jigging Rapalas. At night the walleye are moving to the shallows chasing bait fish so shad imitations are working well. Look for deep points and reports that lots of fish have been marked in 40 feet or deeper water. Crappies can still be picked up in deeper water and minnows have worked the best. Trolling a Rapala here can also pick up a rainbow. The minimum size for smallmouth, largemouth, and spotted bass is 15 inches in length. The bag/possession limit and minimum size for walleye/saugeye is five fish in the aggregate, 18 inches in length. The bag/possession limit for crappie is 10 fish and the minimum size is 10 inches in length. The bag/possession limit for wiper is 5 fish and no more than one wiper greater than 21 inches, in length, per day can be taken.
Arkansas River - Leadville to Buena Vista
As of 1/2/2020, this stretch of the river is frozen and icy and there is more open water reported near Buena Vista. Most of the upper part of the basin has now frozen over and it can be extremely difficult to find open water during this time of the year. If you are trying to fish this part of the river, wait for warmer days where thin ice has melted to find an opportunity to fish. If you can find open water, midges will be the most common food source. Flows: 65 CFS at Hayden Meadows with ice reported and 286 CFS at Granite (1/2/2020)
Located just north of Westcliffe. As of 1/2/2020, reports that fishing has been slow but a few nice trout around 20 inches are being caught. The ice is about 7 inches thick in some areas and anglers have had success in 15 to 20 feet of water. Slush is being reported so bring waterproof boots. Trout were caught on rat finkies tipped with meal and wax worms. There were some being caught on silver Swedish pimples as well. For current conditions, contact the CPW Pueblo Area Office (719-561-5300).
Conditions Report - Metro Denver Area
This 762-acre impoundment is located off of E. Quincy Avenue, two miles east of E-470. As of 12/20/2019, there is currently no ice. Trout fishing from shore is slow to fair using PowerBait. There are currently no reports on walleye fishing from shore. For more information call 303-326-8425. Closed to boating for the season - this also includes all hand launched watercraft such as canoes, kayaks, rafts, paddle boards, etc.
This 881-acre impoundment is located in Cherry Creek State Park, in Aurora. There are two entrances to the park, the east entrance off S. Dayton St. and the west entrance off S. Parker Rd. As of 12/26/2019, some reports of ice forming and most of the reservoir is capped at this point in time. The ice still is not safe. The lake is closed to boating and park office hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cherry Creek Reservoir
This 1,356 impoundment is located in Chatfield State Park. As of 1/3/2020, ice has formed on the south end of the reservoir but is only around 3 inches of ice in some areas. Warmer days are melting the shorelines quickly so use caution if you head out as the shorelines may be unstable. It is recommended to take a spud bar with you and check the ice as you venture out. Ice conditions on the Front Range can change quickly and warmer temperatures are expected in Littleton this weekend (nearly 60 degrees). Anglers have had success catching trout through the ice using a variety of techniques. Small, tungsten jigs tipped with meal, wax, or earth worms have been working well. Silver/gold Kastmasters and spoons have also been catching aggressive fish trying to bulk up for the winter. A jigging rap is another great option using the early ice season. When ice fishing, be aggressive while jigging the rap until fish are interested and come into the area and then slow the action down a bit to get a bite.
Conditions Report - Northwest Colorado
As of 1/3/2020, fishing has been reported as slow lately but there have been ideal flows and excellent water clarity. While this river can be extremely challenging, there are massive trout and a more technical approach can lead to success. Below Silverthorne, the egg patterns have been really popular with the trout. Dredging a midge along the bottom will get to the most fish however so take advantage of the sight fishing opportunities and cast the rig up stream enough so the terminal fly gets to the bottom before reaching the trout. The fishing will be the best in Silverthorne during the winter. Mysis shrimp are also a good option. Flows: 77.1 CFS below Dillion and 183 below Green Mountain Reservoir (1/2/2020)
Blue River - Silverthorne
As of 12/31/2019, reports that there are 6 inches of ice in some areas with about 3 inches of snow. Anglers have had success catching lakers in 50 or more feet of water using small white tub jigs tipped with sucker meat. Success reported straight out from Quinette Point.
Frying Pan River-Ruedi
As of 12/19/2019, expect the tail water section to be the most productive heading into the winter months. The hatches are down to just midges and baetis basically and the strongest hatches occurring around 11am to 3pm. Some of the current, hot patterns to try out include split case blue winged olives, Cane midge, and Tim's mysis in the #20-22 sizes. Streamers are still an effective technique so consider some slump busters and autumn splendors for a chance at some bigger fish. Flows: CFS 85 (12/19/2019)
Frying Pan River-Ruedi
As of 12/30/2019, North Delaney, near the boat ramp there is 5 inches of ice, west side 10 inches of ice, and 6 inches of snow on top of the ice. Anglers pulling some fatties out right now from this lake. Key is to fish it very early morning and late evening. Anglers using HD Ice Dynamic Lures in white and brook trout and tube jigs doing well. South Delaney is capped with solid 5 inches of clear ice, 2 inches of cloudy ice on top in the previously open water areas. West side has 10 inches of ice. About 2 to 3 inches of snow on ice makes for easy walking. Roads into the Buttes are plowed and easily passable. Water clarity is slightly off, but visibility good to 12 feet. Anglers reporting good action on tube jigs & spoons. East Delaney has 10 inches of ice near the parking area. Deeper snow 150 yards from the boat ramp making it hard to access. Please remember these conditions and ice are changing by the hour with wind, snow and sun. Would you like to know more about spawn-take operations at North Delaney Butte Lake? Visit the Colorado Outdoors Magazine Blog Post, "Raising Colorado's Brown Trout - North Delaney Butte Lake"
As of 12/30/2019, the lake is still sitting at 10 inches of ice with 4 inches of slush in areas and 6 inches of snow on top of the ice. Atvs, snowmobiles, and side by sides are venturing onto the lake daily. No vehicles yet. Roads accessible with some drifting near the edges. Lots of fisherman fishing this lake, some doing very well with monster fish pictures but most people reporting it to be very slow. A mix of baits talked about: everyone is using something different right now, mealworms, wax worms, Kastmasters, various colored jig heads with shrimp, tubes with garlic oil, HD Ice Dynamic lures. Cowdrey is capped with 8 to 12 inches of ice. Some anglers reporting it active with smaller fish being caught. Big Creek is only accessible by snowmobile at this point. Last measurement of ice reported to us was 8 inches with fishing being active. Please remember these conditions and ice are changing by the hour with wind, snow and sun.
As of 12/23/2019, ice is reported at 10 to 11 inches on various parts of the reservoir with a few feet of snow on top. Cleats are still recommended in areas where snow is not covering the ice and there has also been reports of slush and water on top of the ice so wear waterproof boots. Water is reported as clear and anglers can see down about 5 feet once they drill. Tungsten jigs with worms have been working well for trout with a constant jigging motion. Try using pink, chartreuse, or red jigs tipped with wax or meal worms or salmon eggs. Fishing has been reported as the best near the Snake River inlet. Anglers are having success catching kokanee.
Roaring Fork River
As of 1/2/2020, fish are still being caught and the water is low and clear. Use stealth when fishing so you do not spook the fish in the area and use light tippet. The primary hatches at this point in time are BWOs and midges. Look for deeper pools and runs where the water is moving at a slower pace to target fish. Streamers will also work on this river and try using smaller one and then transitioning to larger ones if those are not working. There is ice forming on the edges of the river so use caution. Flows: 473 in Glenwood Springs (1/3/2020)
Roaring Fork River
Vega State Park
As of 12/17/2019, all three boat ramps are closed for the season. There are reports that the lake has capped and there is ice anywhere from 2 to 3 inches thick in some areas. This is still considered extremely unsafe ice and anglers should wait a while longer for the lake to freeze more. The Visitor Center is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Vega State Park
Green Mountain Reservoir
This a 2,125- acre storage reservoir, is operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as part of the Colorado-Big Thompson project. It provides good fishing for lake trout, rainbow, cutbow, brown trout, and kokanee salmon. Approximately 13 miles south of Kremmling, CO. Colorado Highway 9 runs along the east side of the reservoir. As of 1/1/2020, reports are that there is 6 or more inches of ice in some spots on the reservoir. Anglers are having success in deeper water and there has been action reported in up to 40 feet of water. The road to the reservoir can become difficult to pass in the winter and vehicles with high clearance are recommended.
Green Mountain Reservoir
Harvey Gap Reservoir
This reservoir is about 190 surface acres when full. As of 12/28/2019, the ice is anywhere from 3 to 6 inches. Always use caution when fishing on the ice and be sure to fish with a buddy. Ice thicknesses vary across the reservoir as a whole, and can vary significantly even a few yards away. Ice rescue stations are located at popular areas around the lake, but nothing can provide for your safety like taking proper precautions and planning and preparing for the unexpected. Recommended items to bring along are ice awls, a life jacket, rope and a fishing buddy.
Harvey Gap Reservoir
As of 12/20/2019, reports from anglers are that the fishing has been great this week. The ice is about 8 inches thick in the coves but only about 4 inches thick once you get 60 yards from shore. Please take caution on the ice. There have also been reports of lots of slush on top of the ice. The road into Sage Flats is closed due to soft and muddy conditions. Public access on the road to the dam, from Sage Flats, is closed. Boating is closed for the season. To check ice conditions, call the part at (970) 879-3922.
Wolford Mountain Reservoir
This 1550 acre storage reservoir, is owned and operated by the Colorado River Water Conservation District. It provides good fishing for rainbow and brown trout, kokanee salmon and a few other assorted species. It is approximately 5 miles north of Kremmling, CO on US highway 40. As of 12/28/2019, there have been reports of some ice forming on the north end of the reservoir but at this point it is not safe to fish. Reports of up to 6 inches of ice in some areas and anglers are having success with extremely small jigs in deeper water. Fishing has been best near the dam and it's also where the best ice has been on the reservoir. Clarity has been around 4 feet and anglers have had success with a variety of species.
Wolford Mountain Reservoir
Rifle Gap Reservoir
As of 1/3/2020, there is a 3 to 6 inch layer of ice covering most of the lake. The ice thickness varies and there are still areas of open water. Always use caution when fishing on the ice and be sure to fish with a buddy. Ice fishing on the lake can be tricky here at Rifle Gap. Ice thicknesses vary across the reservoir as a whole, and can vary significantly even a few yards away. Ice rescue stations are located at popular areas around the lake, but nothing can provide for your safety like taking proper precautions and planning and preparing for the unexpected. Recommended items to bring along are ice awls, a life jacket, rope and a fishing buddy. Anglers may also contact Harvey Gap/Rifle Gap State Park, 5775 Hwy 325, and Rifle, CO, 81650; Phone: 970-625-1607 for updates on fishing conditions.
Rifle Gap Reservoir
As of 12/16/2019, Stagecoach Reservoir is frozen over. Ice conditions are variable across the lake (very thin in spots). The reservoir is iced over as of December 16th. Please see detailed ice conditions section below. Some anglers have reported fishable ice at Morrison Cove and at the Inlet area. Successful anglers are primarily reporting luck with PowerBait, night crawlers, spoons, and jigs on the reservoir. For the tail waters, (c/o The Steamboat FlyFisher) fishing is being reported as great. Now is the time to get out there as the road will be closing on January 1st. We have seen great nymphing all day and some fish rising to Blue Wing Olives and Midges mid-day or on any warmer overcast days. Make sure you are using 6x fluorocarbon, micro split shot and small indicators as these fish can be spooky. Flows at 70 CFS. Nymphs: Barr's Emerger, Zebra Midge, Medallion Midge, Brassie, RS2, BTS Nymph, Buck Skin, JuJu Baetis, Scuds, and Bling Midge. Dries: Pablo's Cripple, Blue Ribbon Foam Baetis, and BWO Fripple. Streamers: Jake's Leech, Hale Bop Leech, and Slump Buster. Sarvis Creek State Wildlife Area (c/o the Steamboat Flyfisher), just one mile downstream of the Stagecoach tail waters this stretch of river can be very productive year round. This state wildlife area is about 2.5 miles of idyllic trout stream habitat. There is a high density of fish in this area so do not walk past any structure without first casting in for a try. Sight casting this stretch of river is popular. The road to Sarvis is now closed. It is about a 45 minute hike to the bridge. At this time we would recommend snowshoes or cross country skis. We have seen great fishing from 10 am to dark. Nymphing all day has been very productive with a good midge hatch mid-morning and again in the evening. Flows at 109 CFS. Nymphs: Barr's Emerger, JuJu Baetis, Juans Hi Def, Hot Bead Prince, Z Wing Caddis, Translucent Emerger, Edwards Black, RS2, Black Beauty, and Buckskin. Dries: Last Chance Cripple, Mole Fly, BWO Fripple, and Pink Parachute. Streamers: Beldar Bugger, Slumpbuster, and Zonkers. Although there is some fishable ice and a few anglers have been out, we are advising extreme caution at this time. Specific ice thicknesses by area: Morrison Cove (4 to 6 inches), Inlet (3 to 4 inches), Keystone Cove (4 inches), Arrowhead (3-4 inches), Harding Cove (3 to 4 inches), and other areas, such as Main Reservoir and Dam (too thin to access) Also, although Stagecoach DOES allow the use of snowmobiles and OHVs for fishing access, we are not advising the use on the ice at this time. PLEASE EXCERCISE EXTREME CAUTION ON EARLY SEASON ICE! Please be safe and check ice thickness often. Happy fishing! Historical Ice-On Dates: 2019 (December 16), 2018 (December 10), 2017 (December 27), 2016 (December 23), and 2015 (December 22). As of 1/3/2020, there have been more reports of ice around 8 and 10 inches and nice rainbows being caught using a variety of jigs. Earth, wax, and meal worms have been working well. PowerBait is another good option.
Vega State Park
As of 12/29/2019, the lake is frozen with approximately 6 inches of ice near the dam and the Island. Always use caution when accessing the ice as ice depths vary across the lake. Fishing is good with anglers reporting catching nice rainbows in the 12 to 16 inch range with ice jigs and meal worms. There have been reports of ice close to 10 inches near the island. There is around 4 inches of snow on top of the ice. Gold spoons have been working for aggressive rainbows. The Visitor Center is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Vega State Park
Conditions Report - Southwest Colorado
Blue Mesa Reservoir
This is a 9000 acre storage reservoir that offers good fishing for kokanee salmon, brown trout, rainbow trout, and lake trout. Blue Mesa Reservoir is located within Curecanti National Recreation Area. Report and photos from Robby Richardson of Sport Fish Colorado, as of 12/26/2019, last week's cold temperatures made some new ice! Mid-week we saw the narrows cap and then a few days later all of Iola capped! Currently, Blue Mesa is capped from the Gunnison River all the way to a little west of the Elk Creek boat ramp. Ice thickness varies from 2.5 to 5 inches depending on where you go, so use caution! Fishing has been good, but it has taken some moving around most days to find the best action. There is a LOT of submerged brush that got flooded with the high water this year and that has helped the perch and sucker fry have a hiding place. The rainbow trout, brown trout, lake trout, and even bigger perch are dialed in on these hideouts and are taking advantage when they can find a concentration of fry! Match the hatch and the fish will bite! We have not had a chance to spend much time looking for bigger perch or kokanee salmon yet, but we are hoping to have some more info soon. Be safe out there and stay tuned.
Blue Mesa Reservoir
Jackson Gulch Reservoir
Mancos is a great place for consistent action from trout and yellow perch. Most of the trout action is from 10 to 12 inch fish, but there is very good opportunity at an 18 to 20 inch trout and a few 12 inch plus perch. Great opportunity for kids to catch fish. Most anglers are finding success with bait (PowerBait, salmon 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. As of 12/31/2019, ice is approximately 5 inches near the boat ramp and northeast corner of the dam. The lake had open water in places as recently as Saturday 12/28/2019, so the ice thickness is HIGHLY VARIABLE. Use extreme caution and check ice thickness with an auger as you proceed on it and move across it. The main lake ice will be very thin despite the ice closer to shore being thick enough to support weight. We're seeing consistent action from trout and yellow perch. Most of the trout action is from 10 to 12 inch fish, but there's good opportunity at an 18 to 20 inch trout and a few 12 inch or larger perch. Most perch are in the 5 inch neighborhood. Great opportunity for kids to catch fish. Small teardrop jigs tipped with mealworm, waxworms or crawler, small spoons and bare crawlers are catching fish. A small ball of PowerBait on a 1/16 oz. jig will select for the trout and reduce the number of the very small perch. The perch are excellent eating and even the small ones make nice fish tacos. In the interest of managing their population we do encourage you to keep them here if you'll use them.
Mancos State Park
As of 12/28/2019, currently we have had reports of 4 to 5 inches near the dam, and about 2 inches at the end of the Peninsula. The ice now has a blanket of snow on top, which will insulate it from freezing as quickly as before. Please be sure to drill test holes so you can determine if the ice is safe at your location. Anglers have reported catching perch, crappie and largemouth bass near the dam. Remember that there is a lake-specific limit on the bass. They must be 18 inches or larger to keep, and you can only keep ONE. Statewide limits pertain to all other species.