Lately I have been longing more and more for spring, for trout to move from their wintering holes and begin their aggressive feeding. I have been revisiting high mountain lakes where I could believe the surface was actually made of glass until a cruising greenback cutthroat subtlely sips my dry fly of the surface. I know I just recently wrote on the joys of winter fishing, but when the ice is off and all the streams, rivers, ponds and lakes are free of winter, thats when the fishing is at its best.
These last couple of days my dream has seemed particularly distant as most of the front range from Denver to Fort Collins recieved well over a foot of snow. One of the biggest February snowstorms in the last 100 years! Watching the snow fall I was reminded of something my dad would always say about snowstorms. “Big snow, little snow; little snow, big snow”. By this adage bigger snow flakes generally meant less accumulation, while small snow flakes generally fell denser and piled up quicker.
Of course, I have found that this applies to trout as well.
There is one sign of spring that I am growing curious to investigate. Late last spring/ early summer I stumbled upon a great little fishery that was seemingly untapped. All brown trout. Low numbers…. much bigger fish, or “little fish, big fish; big fish, little fish”. For reasons any real angler will understand, I am not going to reveal the intimate details of this location. It is special in that 10 miles upstream the the river supports 3,4,00 – 4,000 fish per mile but the section that I have come to love to fish cant have more than a couple hundred fish per mile.
Anyway, I believe that in the late fall these bigger browns actually move down stream to its confluence with the South Platte River to spawn as well as hold over for much of the winter. Now, with the onset of February and the daylight hours growing longer and longer each week it is my belief that these fish may be migrating back up to their spring and summer holds, ready to feed on smaller trout, sculpins, minnows and crayfish that are more abundant begining in March.
Last year, a few holes produced multiple 17″- 20″ fish and I know I lost bigger ones. It may be time for me to once again investigate my big trout waters. I hope February will bring their return, but as of right now that is all it is…. a hope.