Fishing the Yampa River

The Yampa River meanders through over 250 miles of some of the most stunning country you will find in the lower 48 states. It is the second largest watershed in the state of Colorado. It may arguably be the number one fishing river in the state.
Before being contained in Stagecoach Reservoir, the Yampa is essentially a mountain brook, yielding its share of small trout, both rainbows and cutthroats. After escaping the confines of Stagecoach, the tailwater stretch of the river makes it famous for fishermen. For fishermen who are after larger fish, this stretch which lasts about to Hayden, Colorado is the area of concentration. This is the section where you will find many out-of-state fishermen and guides. It will sometimes be crowded for sure.
There is an assumption that the trout fishing essentially is over past Hayden. This is most certainly not the case. If you have the opportunity to fish anywhere down to Craig, trout can be caught. Also, in this section of river, smallmouth bass are pretty good in numbers and there are plenty of northern pike. If you are after just decent trout fishing in exchange for less in the way of crowds, this section of river might be right for you. This section is beautiful in its own way. It is river valley ranchland.
Once you get past Craig, the river begins to fairly rapidly turn into a warm water fishery. Once past Juniper Canyon, large catfish are even landed now and then. By the time the river makes its way to Maybell, it looks like a slow moving Midwestern catfish river. The river is pretty heavily utilized for irrigation in these stretches.
As for baits, flies, and lures, pretty much the standard fare is what you will want to use if targeting trout. For specifics on flies, there are several very good shops in Steamboat Springs who will give you plenty of advice in exchange for spending a little of your money. There are also some very good guide services in the area.
The Yampa in the stretch between Hayden and Craig is a great float and fish stream. There are most certainly a few lively stretches. There are riffles that are followed by slow moving pools. There are many stretches that can be fished directly from a canoe or drift boat. Some areas are better fished by bringing your boat to shore and wade-fishing. Once you go past Craig, especially in springtime, there are sections that are treacherous.
Make certain you know the river conditions before heading out. Needless to say, bring floatation device. During cold weather floats (obviously before the river freezes), be prepared for dealing with a situation where your canoe capsizes.
One word of caution is in order. There is plenty of public access to the Yampa River. However, local ranchers do get upset by fishermen who trespass on their property. Since the public access is so ample, respect their rights by staying off their land unless you have been granted permission.
If you happen to get out to this part of Colorado, take some time and explore the Yampa River area. The fishing is great and the scenery is even better.

1 comment:

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