The drive over the Rabbit Ears Pass was risky with moments of zero visibility. I was apprehensive the Yampa River below Stagecoach Reservoir would be the same. It’s really winter, and there remains a high risk with traveling as well as the urgency to be prepared. I feared the worse that taking this fishing trip would be disheartening.
Driving down the pass in the distance, I could see in the remote, openings of sunshine with intense cloud cover deeply-seated with production of gentle snow flurries. Roads have been icy and tapered due to the high winds blowing snow across the road. At the entrance of the state park, the ranger shack remained dark and ominous. Signs are clearly marked where to park. It’s just my Jeep and no other vehicles. The snow had one set of tire tracks on the road made by a park ranger.
There certainly is a lot more snow at the Stagecoach Tailwaters after the New Year. Winter has nestled in and the Stagecoach Reservoir remains silent. As I made my way to the closed gate, there are no other boot prints but mine in the snow covered road. The hike from the close gate to the tailwaters is approximately 2 miles.
The canyon is significantly shadowed dropping the temperature to about 15 degrees. The banks are softly blanketed with fluffy powder and the river’s edge has intricate ice formations. Winter fly fishing has light crowds, but I remained the one and only with the complete river to myself. It really is winter.
Fishing has been good with a steady cfs of 40. The clouds broadened, sunshine and blue skies confiscated the winter skies. Nymphing is the proficient technique with ever changing of patterns: Black Beauty #18-22, RS2 #18-22 black, Zebra #18-20, Bling Midge #20. Dry fly prospects are diminutive with BWO’s #20-22. 5x tippet is a worthy set up sure to tantalize eager trout. The Stagecoach tailwaters hold numerous Rainbow, Cutbow, atypical Brown, and the chance at the vibrant Brook trout. Fishing has gradually transitioning into winter where temperatures are wintry, and the trout are feeding less robustly. The fish will eat with little energy, so be ready to set the hook with even the least dance of your indicator.
It really is winter. Gear up warm, carry extra gloves, hand warmers, food, water, and a portable microfiber hand towel to dry your hands is a must. Bring snowshoes as the snow gets deeper. Daily park pass is still required of $8 even with the vehicle access gate closed until April 1st, 2020. Setting into the spirit of winter really can mean no crowds with the definite angler’s dream of fish galore. See you on the river!