Skip to content

Looks Like Rain

Looks like rain.  And some more rain.  And more rain. It’s “Monsoon Season” here in Colorado, and we have had a couple of weeks now of predictable rainfall in the late afternoons and evening.  All the water has been great for our lawns, and the rains have definitely impacted our local fisheries from the Arkansas River to the South Platte watershed.

Local NBC TV station had this to say late Saturday night: “Our monsoon season is still going strong through Colorado and we’re seeing the effect with a near constant daily rain.”

And we have gotten calls in the shop wondering in general, what’s up with all this rain, and what does it mean for fishing.  Director of Services, Jon Easdon, posted this on our Angler’s Covey FB page Saturday:

     We have been getting a lot of phone calls and emails regarding our unusually high water in the South Platte. We wanted to briefly address the situation. 

     Massive rainfall several days ago basically flooded many of the sections in South Park. (i.e. Badger Basin, the Dream Stream). The flows went from 350 cfs to 800 cfs in minutes. It’s safe to say that this section will look a little different when the water comes down. The flows have been stable at about 356 cfs for several days since. The clarity is still very bad though. 

     In the Cheesman and Deckers area, there are some repairs that need to be done on the spillway on Cheesman dam. Thus, Denver water is releasing more water so they can perform these repairs. Currently flows out of Cheesman are a whopping 697 cfs. The water is also being released from the bottom valves of the dam making the water temperature on the cold side. 

     11 mile Canyon has been hit with significant rain daily for the last 6 days. The clarity on the upper end is pretty decent, with less visibility lower in the canyon. The flows as of this morning are 400 cfs making finding fishable water a bit tough. 

Rainfall caused some waterfalls to appear on the

hillsides of Elevenmile Canyon.

     Arkansas tailwater in Pueblo has also been high, but it’s been fairly consistent as of late. It’s basically a ghost town down there and those willing to put the work in are being rewarded with fat, healthy fish. The tailwater is right around 1200 cfs this morning.

     However, high flows do not mean that fishing is impossible. Change your tactics to those similar to fishing during run off. Nymphing will be the primary method to fish. Use heavy leaders and tippet and big bugs. San Juan worms, stoneflies, craneflies, and streamers will all produce fish in high water. 

     This is also a golden opportunity to focus on our areas stillwater fishing. Antero, Spinney, 11 mile reservoir, Tarryall reservoir, the Catamounts, and Pueblo reservoir are all fishing great right now. Remember, there are over 8000 miles of public water in Colorado! There is always somewhere to fish.

     We hope this helps all of our friends out there.  Stop in the shop and we would be happy to help you pick out some patterns for these conditions.

A Personal Story

On Thursday night, heading back from Breckenridge, I decided to head up into the canyon.  When I got to Lake George around 4:15, I was greeted with a pretty good thunderstorm and steady downpour.  As I headed up into the canyon, going against the traffic as people were streaming out, I was amazed at how much water was in the river and how dark brown it was.  Chocolate milk?  More like dark chocolate melt.  Water was streaming down the sides of the canyon where it normally doesn’t flow with small little waterfalls dumping water into the South Platte.  The debris in the water rivaled that seen on some freestones during spring runoff with large branches and many pinecones riding the currents.

“Springer” in the Canyon was chocolate milk and the debris was thick around the bank.

Up past the tunnels, the water began to clear and by the time I got to the end of the road, the water quality was definitely fishable.  I had to wait, though, for the thunder to die and for the storm to move east.

I had a small window of time to fish.  By 5:30, I had tied on streamers and tried a variety of nymphs near the culverts. But no luck.  Getting the right depth was a bit tricky for me in these higher flows (407 cfs Thursday night), and I just had a tough time figuring out the water.

I moved downstream where the  river makes that wide curve and flattens out. There’s plenty of structure with the rocks and downed trees, so I figured I would hit some holes there.  Still trying to figure out what they were eating, and checking the skies because the next storm was moving in, I tied on a red size 14 Amy’s Ant just to see if I could get a fish to rise near the bank or up close to the structure.

The first fish rose and then let the Amy’s Ant ride over him.  But I knew he was interested.  I wasn’t sure if he would rise again, but I figured if he didn’t, maybe his buddy would.  A few casts later, I had my first of three cuttbows of the evening to the net.

I had only half-intended to fish on Thursday evening.  As I drove up the canyon, and the water began to improve in quality despite the rainfall, my hopes to fish increased.  The next couple of hours in the canyon provided an incredible opportunity to witness the beauty and the awe that nature brings.

I wouldn’t trade it at all, monsoon season or not.

Leave a Comment