CPW: Spring fishing forecast looks bright for coming season

Photo By Lyndsie Ferrell Rivers and reservoirs are beginning to melt with warmer springtime temperatures which marks the beginning of spring season fishing in the western end of the San Luis Valley. Colorado Parks and Wildlife recently spoke about their fish stocking schedule.

SAN LUIS VALLEY — Spring is in the air and as ice begins to melt off the surfaces of local waters, Colorado Park and Wildlife (CPW) prepares for the coming fish stocking season. Though winter’s fishing was up to par, CPW Aquatic Biologist Estevan Vigil was optimistic about the coming spring and summer season.

“First off, I think it is important to note that ice fishing this past year was pretty good. The lakes and reservoirs on the western side of the Valley were full of anglers and the few times I went out I was more than successful. With that being said, now, with spring on the horizon, it is time to be cautious of the ice. Warmer temperatures in the day and cooler temps at night make the ice weak and dangerous,” said Vigil.

Vigil and local officials urge anyone heading out on the ice to fish this time of year to be extremely cautious as conditions can change and be precarious. Once waters in the western end of the San Luis Valley begin to open, it is an optimal time to head out and fish just before the spring runoff causes the conditions to worsen with rising water levels and colder water temperatures. 

Beginning in April, CPW will begin its annual stocking schedule which will begin with Beaver Creek Reservoir just outside of South Fork.

“We are really excited that we will be stocking Beaver Creek with Kokanee Salmon again this year," Vigil said. "The fish go in small and are allowed to grow. We start the first few weeks of April. We will also stock Rainbow Trout beginning in May and Brown Trout in July. We will continue this schedule every two weeks until September.”

Big Meadows Reservoir located just up Highway 160 toward Wolf Creek Pass will be filled with naturally producing Brook Trout as it is every year. “Big Meadows is an area favorite, and people really have a great time fishing the natural Brook Trout," Vigil said. "The best time to go at Big Meadows is early in the morning. We will also be stocking 10-inch Rainbow Trout from mid-May until September.”

Shaw Creek is another small lake that local and visiting anglers like to fish throughout the spring and summer seasons. This lake will be home to Cutbow Trout which is a highbred species of Rainbow and Cutthroat Trout.

“Cutbows are really fun to catch, and people say they are delicious to eat," Vigil said. "The fish is really very similar to Rainbow, and we begin to stock those in Shaw Creek in July. They are about 4 inches when we introduce them to the lake, but they grow rather quickly.”

Rio Honda Reservoir up north-east of Creede will remain drained for another year. The dam repair project that began two years ago is still underway and Vigil anticipates that it will be another two to three years before the reservoir will be full again. 

A little further south of Rio Hondo is the Road Canyon Reservoir which is one of the busiest fishing locations around Creede. According to Vigil, the reservoir provides optimal fishing early in the summer before weeds overrun the lake. In April CPW stocks Road Canyon with 3-inch Brook trout, 3-inch Rainbow Trout and 10-inch Rainbows again in June.

“Road Canyon is a really great place to go fishing and people do really like the easy access and the area,” Vigil said.

Continental Reservoir is another fishing destination near Creede where anglers can begin to catch early-season Brook Trout, Splake and Cutbow Trout. All the species in Continental are put in small and allowed to grow so later in the summer season is the prime time to catch larger fish.

Rio Grande Reservoir is still recovering from dam repair that was completed in recent years. The lake is still filling with spring runoff and CPW is currently working to re-establish the fishery. This year the reservoir will be stocked with Rainbow and Splake in June and July. The fish go in at 10-inches and are allowed to grow. 

Directions to all locations in this article can be found at https://cpw.state.co.us/fishing.


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