North Park fly-fishing gains as water recedes
Fly-fishing in Colorado’s high country has been exceptional as the runoff has receded and the rivers have cleared. The North Park area has been no exception.
Matt Jimenez, from North Park Anglers in Walden, joined me on my radio show last Saturday to update us on river conditions. Jimenez commented that the flows on the North Platte River have just come down and cleared, and the walk/ wade fishing is really coming on. The tributaries that run through the meadows in the area have seen enough rain to keep them cool and productive. Dry droppers like a hopper with a hairs ear or pheasant tail nymph have been doing well.
One of the great things about this area is the variety of trout available. On one day, while fishing with the crew from North Park Anglers. I almost had a grand slam. I had already caught brook trout, several large rainbows and cutthroat trout. All I needed was a brown trout, which can be your most common catch at times in the area. Toward the end of the day, I finally hooked up with a small brown, maybe 5 inches, but while I was landing it a 5-pound rainbow ate it. It was hard to be disappointed.
I asked Jimenez how the area lakes were fishing. He said anglers are having very good success fishing nymphs 10 to 20 feet deep under indicators early and late in the day. The Delaney Buttes reservoirs in particular were producing some very large fish.
Commonly known as “North Park,” Jackson County is a high, isolated, inter-mountain basin that lies in the northernmost tier of Colorado. North Park is one of the four major “parks” in Colorado and these major intermountain regions comprise some of the highest elevated, large areas of year-round agricultural settlements in North America.
North Park encompasses about 1,600 square miles; more than one million acres, and the elevation ranges from 7,800 feet in the valley floor to nearly 13,000 feet on surrounding peaks.
This picturesque valley is surrounded by five designated wilderness areas and plentiful National Forest lands that are speckled with high alpine lakes and streams. These waters team with native cutthroats and brook trout that are eager to take a fly and are unaccustomed to the presence of humans.
Long, cold winters bring above average snowpack, which ensures ample water throughout the season to the waters below.
The smaller high country streams combine to create the meadow streams or tributary streams that flow out of the foothills and into the meadows. As the gradient reduces, water slows, and begins meandering through willow-lined hay meadows. Once the meadow streams combine, a world-class fishery is born, the North Platte. Two distinct sections within miles of each other make this river unique.
In the valley, the river characteristics consist of a slow meandering meadow river with classic wide riffles, deep runs and braids.
On the rivers journey northward it tumbles into the spectacular Northgate Canyon near the Wyoming/Colorado state line where steep canyon walls, boulder fields, and dreamy dry fly flats are loaded with wild populations of wily browns and rainbows. Within the valley numerous still waters referred to as “sagebrush” lakes attract anglers in pursuit of trout growing to true trophy potential.
In particular the Delaney Buttes, designated as Gold Medal waters by the state of Colorado, are the quintessential trout factories where fish can grow up to one inch per month due to the abundance of food.