Gazette Article - How To Properly Handle Trout!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pikes Peak Is Open For Fishing!

Crystal, South Catamount, and North Catamount reservoirs on Pikes Peak officially opened for fishing May 1st and they are fishing fantastic!

For those of you unfamiliar with these local bodies of water, these three reservoirs supply most of Colorado Springs with its drinking water.  Lake trout, a.k.a. Mackinaw, Cutthroat trout and Rainbow trout all reside in these North Slope fisheries. Crystal and South Catamount are open to bait fishing with standard slot limits for trout, and North Catamount is flies and lures only.

It is the angler's responsibility to read the signs posted at each lake and to obey any special regulations on slot limits and boating. Boating is restricted to canoes and float tubes while wearing a life vest.

Lake trout like the one shown were put in the reservoirs to control the sucker population, which they do well. The best way I can describe Mackinaw (Lake trout) is that they are the Northern Pike of trout - only they fight harder.

Even the color and markings remind me of Pike. Lake trout are extremely aggressive and will clear out an unwanted population of suckers just as quickly as Pike. Because they are so carnivorous once they have cleaned out the suckers they turn their attention toward other trout.

Young Lake trout also tend to be long and skinny like their Pike counterparts, but can grow to enormous sizes once they are big enough to swallow a stocker-sized rainbow.  I have seen photos of Lakers up to 20 pounds come out of "North Cat" and fish even larger come out of Rampart.

Kristen and I spent two hours fishing on North Catamount on May 2nd, and we landed and released seven rainbows with an average size of 14 inches and a 17-inch Lake trout.  Flies of choice were small black Wooly Buggers, Egg Patterns, and Chironomid Pupa. Most of the fish fell victim to the Pupa.

For readers unfamiliar with the Chironomid it is a midge that hatches in many of Colorado's lakes and reservoirs that looks eerily similar to a giant mosquito. When these bugs emerge off the bottom to hatch on the surface they are called pupa, and this stage of the hatch is when they are most vulnerable to fish.

My favorite Chironomid Pupa patterns that you can purchase at a fly shop are: the Tungsten Rojo Grande in red and black, the Frostbite Chironomid, and the Jumbo JuJu in red and zebra.

You can also get away with using basic midge patterns, only in larger sizes such as the Black Beauty and the Brassie.  Hang these patterns under an indicator during the Chironomid hatches in the spring and fall and hold on tight!

The North Slope of Pikes Peak is one of the most beautiful drives you will ever take. The fact that you can take a handful of these flies and catch a hard-fighting rainbow out of these pristine high country reservoirs is just an added bonus, so get out there and enjoy! Tight Lines!

To learn more about stillwater fishing or to schedule a guided trip with me on the South Platte River or any of the reservoirs along its drainage, send me an email at 

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