Skip to content

Tips for Stillwater Success


Stillwater fly fishing can be one of the most effective and thrilling ways to catch large trout in Colorado. Many fly fishers overlook this fantastic opportunity in favor of rivers and streams because they believe that stillwater is too mysterious, or they just aren’t aware of the great fishing available on our local ponds, lakes and reservoirs. Fantastic fly fishing is just waiting for you in town, or a within a short one- or two-hour drive from Colorado Springs on the Pikes Peak water shed, on reservoirs on the South Platte river drainage, or on the many high country lakes “just up the road.” Kenny Romero gives the low-down for success on our stillwaters. 


Trout grow big in local reservoirs like Spinney Mountain and Elevenmile due to quality water and strong vegetation growth that produces an abundance of food sources. Couple that with plenty of room for trout to spread their fins and you have the recipe for healthy, big, and strong fish! 


NOTE: As of April 24, 2019, Colorado Parks & Wildlife reports that Spinney Reservoir has dropped from 50% ice to 10% ice in two days.  Opening Day is getting close! Watch here and follow us on Facebook for updates!


kenny romeroAs local stillwaters become ice-free with water temperatures rising daily, fish are energized and hungry. The primary food sources in late May and early June in Spinney Mountain and Elevenmile reservoirs are chironomids, sucker eggs, and crawfish. Strike indicator rigs with  these imitations fished at the right depth will produce fish. Woolly buggers and streamers are also very effective this time of year — as well as year round. As we move into summer, we will see much more hatching activity of callibaetis may flies, caddis, damsel flies, beetles, and grasshoppers. And believe it or not, snails are a significant food source for Spinney Mountain large trout. See what Kenny Romero carries in his stillwater flybox here.


Mobility can be a key factor when fishing any stillwater destination. A float tube, kayak, personal pontoon boat or motor boat will get you to where the fish are. During the early spring, fish are hugging the shorelines and mobility isn’t as critical. But come the end of May, most of the big cruisers have moved out into other parts of the lake. And wherever the weeds grow is where you’ll find fish. Don’t overlook the shallow flats either. Many large fish cruise these areas during a hatch looking for an easy caddis, callibaetis, or hopper meal. Dropping a callibaetis nymph behind a #10 Hopper Juan or Amy’s Ant is a good double threat as well. 


Although subsurface stillwater fly fishing is, day in and day out, the most productive type of fly fishing on stillwater (dropping a series of Chironomid and mayfly nymphs – bird’s nest, pheasant tails, hare’s ears, and various callibaetis patterns, for example) dry fly fishing is often overlooked. During the summer months, dry fly fishing can be the most productive strategy. There’s nothing like a 22” Rainbow “exploding” into the air as it attacks a #16 Elk Hair Caddis or #18 Parachute Adams! 


Wooly buggers, slump busters, and streamers are all effective techniques as well. It’s imperative to match sinking lines appropriately to the depth of the pond, lake, or reservoir you are fishing. 


In addition to the major reservoirs on the South Platte drainage, we also have excellent stillwater fishing on the Pikes Peak watershed. Crystal Creek, North and South Catamounts reservoirs on the North Slope of Pikes Peak and Mason and McReynolds reservoirs on the South Slope are productive nearby destinations. Even our in town reservoirs like Pikeview or Prospect Lake have really great opportunities to catch nice fish on the fly! 


Kenny Romero will have his Stillwater Fundamentals class on May 5, 2019 beginning at 1:00 pm at the Shop.  


And, please visit the shop for all of your stillwater fly fishing needs. From kayaks and float tubes to sinking lines to all the right flies and even guided kayak or float tube trips, The Covey has ya covered!


Leave a Comment