Area Conditions - September 1, 2019



Perfect fishing flows on The Lake Fork of the Gunnison, now at 164! Wading has gotten easier, and you can access all areas. All the dry flies we talked about last time are still on and hot, so try stimulators, madam x’s, hoppers, and para adams and experiment with other dry flies because we’re in multiple hatches right now. For nymphs, look to the pats rubber legs, BH prince, BH pheasant tail, BH hares ear, micro-mayfly, 20 inchers, and caddis pupa. It’s great fishing out along the entire Lake Fork!

Cebolla Creek is still turning well, even with hotter and sunnier days. Like the Lake Fork, the fish are willing to come up on a variety of dry flies, so be careful with your approach and be as stealthy as possible. We recommend a dry dropper, with an attractor on top and a BH nymph below it. Pick from just about any BH including copper john, pheasant tail, hares ear, and so on. As with the Lake Fork, try terrestrials such as hoppers, beetles, and ants!
The flow on Henson Creek is perfect, and the fishing has been good to great Still with the coldest water in the area, try Henson in the afternoon with attractor dries such as madam Xs. Mayfly imitations, such as BWO or PMDs, are still working well, and nymphs are working best. Try BH prince nymphs, copper johns, micro-mayflies, hares ears, 20 inchers, pats rubber legs, and a variety of other BH nymphs.

For our whole area in general, feel free to use large attractor flies. However for dries and nymphs, start downsizing based on what you’re seeing.

Big Blue Creek is wonderful. We took a group out there and released dozens. We are still recommending dry droppers, but the nymph might be your most popular of the duo. Try a BH prince, BH pheasant tail, BH hares ear, micro-mayfly, 20 inchers, and caddis pupa. For dries, a small madam X, elk hair caddis, or parachute adams will garner some attention.

The area lakes continue to fish well in the mornings and evenings. Full sun in the afternoons this week are causing slow downs with the heat and clear water. Target rising fish along the banks and in the coves with mosquitos, caddis, BWOs, PMDs, and griffith’s gnats. Strip some streamers to get those lake giants, and use the smaller streamers (e.g., woolly buggers, sculpzillas, and zonkers) for additional action. Sinking lines with bigger streamers have been known to coax some of the largest fish in the lake into eating.

It’s great fishing right now folks becaause even though we have clear and sunny days, we’re still in the cool during evenings and mornings. We’re expecting a bonzana in September as we continue with multiple hatches and optimal flows. Stop by for some technique discussions, or just book a trip with us for the best fly fishing experience in the west!







Area Conditions - August 11, 2019


The Lake Fork of the Gunnison is continuing to drop, with flows around the 380 cfs level as of this report. Wading is still difficult, and we recommend extreme caution when trying to cross the river. The dry fly bite has been good to great, with stimulators, madam x’s, hoppers, and para adams presenting great opportunities at fish. There are quite a few other dry flies that will work as well, so it never hurts experimenting with other patterns. For nymphs, look to the pats rubber legs, BH prince, BH pheasant tail, BH hares ear, micro-mayfly, 20 inchers, and caddis pupa. Again, exercise caution when wading the Lake Fork and enjoy the great fishing!

Cebolla Creek continues to fish extremely well despite the higher than usual pressure. The fish are willing to come up on a variety of dry flies. Approach is important. We recommend a fairly stealthy approach when fishing the Cebolla. Our recommended approach is a dry dropper, with an attractor on top and a BH nymph below it. These nymphs could be a prince, copper john, pheasant tail, hares ear, etc. The fish are also starting to pay attention to terrestrial patterns, so make sure you have your hoppers, beetles, and ants ready!

Henson Creek continues to run high and cold, although catching fish is very doable. We recommend approaching Henson in the afternoon, as it typically has the coldest water temps. The dry fly bite on Henson has started to pick up, and we like attractor dries such as nadam Xs or stimulators when prospecting on Henson. If you are targeting rising fish, a mayfly imitation such as a BWO or PMD will almost always get the job done. The majority of fish are still being caught on nypmhs. The same nymphs that work on the other area streams will be the ticket on Henson as well. Look to use BH prince nymphs, copper johns, micro-mayflies, hares ears, 20 inchers, pats rubber legs, and a variety of other BH nymphs.

Big Blue Creek is still running high and cold, but fishing is starting to pick up. We recommend dry droppers, as some fish are willing to come up for the dries, but in our experience, most fish are still looking more at the nymphs. For nypmhs we would suggest a BH prince, BH pheasant tail, BH hares ear, micro-mayfly, 20 inchers, and caddis pupa. For dries, a small madam X, elk hair caddis, or parachute adams will garner some attention.

The area lakes continue to fish well in the mornings and evenings. Look to target rising fish along the banks and in the coves for the best success. We like mosquitos, caddis, BWOs, PMDs, and griffith’s gnats. Stripping streamers will always give you a shot at one of the lake giants. Smaller streamers such as woolly buggers, sculpzillas, and zonkers will get you a lot of action. Sinking lines with bigger streamers have been known to coax some of the largest fish in the lake into eating.

This is an exciting time to be in Lake City, with the areas streams dropping into optimal flows. If you are unfamiar with the Lake City area, want to learn new techniques, or are a beginner interested in learning to fly fish, we would love to get you out with one of our expert guides. There is so much water to explore around Lake City so get out there and have fun!

Tours & Hikes
For you touring and hiking folks, Cinnamon Pass Road (CR 30) is now open after a mudslide had it closed for over a week. You can now reach Grizzley Gulch and climb Handies, Redcloud, and Sunshine.





Area Conditions - July 12, 2019

More and more roads and streams are clearing and opening, so we’re experiencing sometimes daily changes. Tough to keep up with, but we’re excited to see summer coming back strong! Here’s a few highlights.

Waters are slowly coming down and we are able to fish more and more water every day. The Cebolla has been the hot spot but with the opening of Big Blue and clearing of Henson Creek, it’s time to get on some different water. We are seeing hatches of blue wing olives, golden stones, and may flies throughout the day. This being said, we are using stimulators, advanced stimulators, para adams, and BWO’s with droppers like copper johns and bruised PMD’s. RS-2’s are also very effective.

The Lake Fork of the Gunnison is currently flowing at 1,190 CFS, but it’s clearing and the water color is perfect for us! We are not able to get in yet, but bank fishing has been fruitful. And the bonus is fishing throughout the summer and well into the fall is going to be great this year. We are expecting plenty of water, and with that come lots of bugs, so the fish will continue to eat and should be plentiful. 

With the snow melt comes lots of muddy trails and higher water crossings than usual. All feedback points to lots of snow at around 12,000 feet up to around 13,000 feet. Above that the snow thins out and has been blown off. Most people are experiencing Icey conditions in the morning and soft snow with potholing in the afternoon. Be prepared for snow and all weather conditions as they change hour to hour. It seems as though we are getting into the monsoon season, so expect rain at some point in the day. Tennis shoes are not recommended on the peak hikes this year. Instead, you’ll need waterproof hiking boots with hiking sticks, and on the 14ers, snowshoes on some and crampons. Mosquitos are thick, so bug spray will be helpful.

Motorized Trails
The trails are still limited but are melting out daily and the road crews are still working hard to get more open. Right now CR20 is open to the top of Engineer Pass and into Animas Forks. You can then take California Gulch into Silver.ton. CR30 is open up to American Basin, however, we still can’t make it up to the trailhead. If you park in the lower parking lot there are trails going up but again be prepared for lots of snow. The road to Carson town site is open to the site but still closed up to the divide. People have been hiking to the top but it is not doable in a vehicle. CR520 on the Rio Grande side over Stony Pass all the way to Silverton is open again, but Pole Creek could still be problematic due to high water. Another place to explore is CR788 that begins just near the top of Slumgullian Pass. There is an area for staging at the first campground off of HW149. The road is 28 miles if you take it all the way around to Powderhorn, but there are lots of other places to explore including Los Pinos Pass. There is enough that you want to make sure you don’t go through too quickly so that you can see it all.

The Staff at The Sportsman

14er Quick Bulletin - June 30, 2019

Here’s just a quick note on reports we’ve had back from baggers on 14er peaks.
- Redcloud: Serious ice/snow fields start about 11,000 feet. Seems to disperse a bit above 12 and then you can make it to the peak. However the climbers recommend crampons rather than just snowshoes as they were really not working. No attempt at Sunshine.
- Handies: Again a serious ice/snow field above mid-mountains. Snowshoes were not working. They suggested ice axe and crampons if you’re going to attempt it. They made it almost to the peak because they had mini ice axes, but turned around before peak because of weather. This was a 3am start.
- Uncompaghre: We’re hearing from OHV and 4x4 motorists that it’s easier to get up to the trailhead. They crossed Nellie by taking the lower side of the road, on logs. Keep in mind that Nellie Creek will probably rise in the next few days. The drivers saw some people on snowshoes coming down from the peak, but don’t have additional details.

The Staff at The Sportsman


The Latest .... To Date: Report - June 29, 2019

Visitors to the Lake City area are enjoying some amazing vistas and getting into our mountain outdoors with camping, hiking, fly/fishing, and motorized touring. To help with your travels, we wanted to update you with some openings and closings that we know of as being the latest. Otherwise see our Reports below for a more complete listing of things to do. (Or call us. We're happy to help!)

- Wager Gulch (FS 568) is now open to the Carson townsite. This road has always been and still is 4-wheel drive only.
- Big Blue just opened Friday. The access road (FSR 868) is now recommended as 4-wheel drive only, but the stream up high is clearing, so fishing should be good. Hiking trailheads include Big Blue Creek and Falls Creek, but there is a ridgeline on Falls Creek. It’s doubtful that you can get through without snowshoes. The Big Blue campground is open as well.
- The USFS is warning that the Pole Creek crossing (FSR 520 past Timber Hill) is extremely dangerous and impassable at times. They are asking that you stay out of the area for now due to a search and rescue mission.
- The Rio Grande River in Mineral county is currently closed in some areas to recreational use.
- On June 25, the BLM opened all roads and trails 500 feet of either side of Country Road 20 and 30 for recreational use. However, waters are getting higher due to increased daily and nightly temperatures. Be safe when choosing camp sites and proximity to waters.

Peak Bagging and Hiking
With roads and trails just opening, we have little to report for 14er attempts. Yesterday, we had baggers in our shop planning to hike Handies and Redcloud tomorrow. Still no reports on Uncompahgre but we do know it is still tough to get up Nellie Creek road (877). Today, baggers are bringing snowshoes and starting around 4am. We’re hoping to hear back from them tomorrow night and will let you know about their experiences as soon as we can.

Avalanche Tours
Our avalanche tours are getting some amazing photographic shots of the massive amounts of avalanches we’ve had in our area. We can move from side-to-side (Engineer to Cinnamon) and view the avalanches, see waterfalls, and spot wildlife (elusive moose!), so give us a call to book a trip!

Stream flow on the Lake Fork was 1,980 cfs this morning when we checked at 8 am. We’ve had hotter days and nights, so we’re expecting that flow to go up a bit more. Obviously, you cannot wade that flow, and bank fishing is the name of the game. Put your high-water techniques on, as Peter our lead guide already spoke of in a previous post.

So where to go? Up high is fishing great, amazing even! We’re getting into big browns on Cebolla and other high mountain streams. We’re still nymphing, with just about any nymph although we like any color of copper johns and tungstens the best. Streamers are working too. Try Pat’s rubber legs, squirmy worms, sculpzillas, and even circus peanuts.

Yesterday on the Cebolla, we had a single person guide trip get into over 48 fish, including some wonderful, big browns! Stop on in and we’ll get you going on flies of choice and ideas for catching the big guys. It’s the perfect time!

Big Blue just opened, as we stated, so we have no information other than it is clearing now.

Still waters continue to be a great choice and are fishing well. Try Lake San Cristobal, Deer Lakes, Continental, and Rito Hondo. Flies now include mosquitos, gnats, and pale morning duns (but only in the mornings where there is shade on the lake). Of course pat’s rubber legs and wooly buggers are working well too. On Rito Hondo, we were using dry droppers with parachute adams and stimis on top with micro mayflies, prince nymphs, and caddis nymphs below.

For bait and lure fishers, seemingly anything goes. We’ve had a run on “silver and pink” of any brand of spinners as well as the tiger colorations. Worms and power baits are working well, again pink one day and tigers the next. Fickle fish!

Please do not cross a stream that is questionable at all to cross. In fact, avoid river and stream crossings. If you think it is dangerous, it is. All water crossings are hazardous, especially right now.

Please do not walk on the ice bridges and debris piles that are over the streams! They are amazing to see, but they can break apart at any time and you fall into cold, fast-moving water. These waters are nearly impossible to get out of once you are swept down into them.

On all trails and roads, mud, snow, and debris can still exist in places, especially the higher you go, so proceed with caution.

Beware our local conditions change daily and throughout the day.

Please, be safe out there!

The Staff at The Sportsman


Quick Bulletin - June 23, 2019

A new change on Engineer Pass (County Road 20). It is now open to Thoreau's cabin. For Nellie Creek, consider stopping at the East Nellie turn just past the water crossing because of snow drifts. The  North Henson is open as our the trailheads for Wetterhorn and Matterhorn are now open.

We'll keep trying to keep you posted as more and more opens up!

Area Conditions - June 21, 2019

Hello Outdoor Enthusiasts:
This is more of a bulletin than a report, but we wanted to get you the latest updates on road openings and other miscellaneous information. Most openings are all listed in the 6/13 report below. The new information is shown next.

Area Conditions - June 21, 2019

Hello Outdoor Enthusiasts:
This is more of a bulletin than a report, but we wanted to get you the latest updates on road openings and other miscellaneous information. Most openings are all listed in the 6/13 report below. The new information is shown next.

Road Openings
County Road 20 (Engineer Pass) is now open to Capital City. Nellie Creek is also open, so hikers of Uncompahgre can continue to get up to the trailhead, however, the road is muddy and snow drifted the higher you go. In fact, the tow truck had to head up to a stuck vehicle on Nellie this past week, so be careful!

On County Road 30, (Cinnamon) you can now get to the second winter gate at Burrows Park. Silver Creek, Grizzly Gulch, and Cooper Lake trails are now open. That means you can now climb Handies, Redcloud, and Sunshine.

Keep in mind that off and on road closures can still occur along these routes as the road crews are working on getting the Alpine Loop open. There could be mud, water, and debris wherever you go, so be careful. Also, trails are still going to be muddy with snow the higher you go.

Big Blue is stilled closed at the gate on Highway 149.

Our avalanche tours are on! Give a call and we can take you to the avalanches on both sides of the Alpine Loop. Time to see mother nature’s handiwork

(Thanks county and emergency management for sharing your information!)

Already on our facebook page, we wanted to let our lead guide talk to you about fishing high waters, which is where we are right now, although some streams are clearing up high. The Lake Fork is at 1,780 CFS as of June 21.

Here’s a rundown of how to fish high, off-color waters, as well as other area fishing conditions.
“We know there are a lot questions regarding the high water and what it does to the fish. What we typically see during high water is that the fish tend to push close to the banks. This leads to some opportunities at some larger fish. The fish feel more comfortable in the higher, off color flows and typically feed very aggressively! Don’t be afraid of high water as it is a good way to improve skill sets and get shots at the bigger fish in the river.

Another great opportunity is fishing the higher elevation creeks. A common misconception is that the smaller streams don’t hold large trout! This is far from the truth. While it is certainly true that the average fish in the small streams is smaller than bigger rivers, high water is a great time to find those small creek freaks. Furthermore, small streams are often very tight quarters, with lots of overhanging brush and tight pockets to fish. Fishing these streams is the best way to improve your overall skill level and technical ability! These skills do transfer to bigger water.

Still water can also be productive this time of year. Streamers fished off of ledges and drop offs will produce some nice fish. You can also cruise the banks looking for rising fish! We always see some big fish come off of lakes and ponds.

High water affords some unique opportunities that you don’t get other times of the year. Don’t let high water intimidate you. If you are interested in learning to fish big water, or want to hit some smaller streams to get your technical skills where they need to be, don’t hesitate to book one of our guides! We will give you the tools to be successful!

More questions, call us and we’ll make road and trail suggestions!

The Staff at The Sportsman

Area Conditions Bulletin - 6/13/2019

Hello Lake City Adventurers:

This past week we’ve seen rising temperatures and rising waters, and then a bit of a cool down. Fortunately, evening temperatures were still fairly cool for us, but spring is on, as is the great melt-down of our heavy snowpack.

Still, there’s lots of things to see and do in the Lake City area. Here’s just some suggestions.

That increased heat results in full run-off, which is where most of our streams in the whole area are right now. We’ve got chocolate water that is fast moving on most streams. The Lake Fork was 1,920 cfs this morning and is high and dirty. These conditions make for bank fishing and highly technical approaches on the Lake Fork – not impossible but perhaps challenging and not as enjoyable for some. Just stay on the banks and look for slower pockets, or throw to the banks. It’ll be higher and faster before it’s all done. The weather folks are forecasting warmer days, so run-off is full on and will stick around for a while this year. We currently cannot report that the Upper Lake Fork has any better clarity. We’re not noticing any hatches, so if you want to bank fish, try big and ugly, perhaps Pat’s Rubber Legs.
Cebolla is running very high and dirty throughout its flow There are some beaver damns around Hidden Valley that are pooling out some nice water, but it’s so dangerous, we wouldn’t step foot into the stream right now.

Brush Creek, however, is running mostly clear but high. It is fishable and is a good size. (It looks like the size of normal Cebolla.) Most can handle this water. Throw parachute adams, mid-range. Remember, though, Brush will be more difficult to get around because of the willows mixed with flooded open areas. We’re happy to report that we have seen some big browns lower down on Brush. Also, watch out for the moose!

We don’t have a report on Cochetopa yet, but are guessing that there might be some clear-but-fast waters on it. We’re planning to check it out next week and will let you know.

You can also consider the small streams around Continental Reservoir, which are clearing, including Spring, Deadman’s, Buck, and so on.

This is a great time to hit the still waters around Lake City. Lake San Cristobal, Continental Reservoir, Deer Lakes, and even Rito Hondo are fishing well. Try the shallow waters right now and fish off the edges with streamers or a double nymph rig. Use a slow retrieve with frequent pauses for those lethargic fishes. If flies aren’t your thing, try bright spinners for sunny days, or even power baits and worms weighted a bit if the fish aren’t rising. We can’t say that any particular colors are silver bullets right now, but silver spinners or tiger colors seems to do the trick. Green power baits too.

We’ve had some great avalanche tours this past week, even though County Roads 20 and 30 are not open all the way around the Alpine Loop. On County Road 30, we can get to the first winter gate closure and see a few of those mighty avalanches, as well as the Sherman ghost town. County Road 20, on the other hand, is closed about one mile past our ATV Staging area, so you can peek a bit at the destruction, but the views are not as robust as we get on Country Road 30 just because we really can’t get to them. In one day, however, we can take you to both sides, at least, and give you some mountain eye candy!
We’re also touring into the Rio Grande National Forest right now for some spectacular views and wildlife viewing. We suggest tours to and around the Bachelor Loop. We can also get almost up to Summitville. There are many stops along the way to see some beautiful lakes.

Remember, our guides know the area and how to get you in and out safely with fun and some great photographic opportunities.

For you peak baggers, getting to our area 14ers isn’t currently possible. That’s because both County Roads 20 and 30 at their gates are now closed to vehicle and foot traffic, as per the BLM. That means access to Uncompaghre, Wetterhorn, Handies, Redcloud, and Sunshine are just not possible right now. We’re hoping for openings soon, and will let you know when we know.

The good news, there are lots of other wonderful hikes in our area. Our favorites include Cannibal Plateau up by Deer Lakes, along with Brush Creek in that area. Off of County Road 30 is Camp Trail, another favorite, as well as Williams Creek to the top (but we don’t suggest descending on the Alpine Gulch side due to high stream crossings at the bottom).

Closer to town are Red Mountain Gulch, Waterdog, and Thompson/Larson/Crystal trails. We’ve had good reports of clear trails on the lower ends, but getting to the 11K range will still have you in snow. Also just north of town are Independence Gulch and Devils Creek. If you get to the top of Devil’s, you see the beautiful Powderhorn Valley … stunning really. And for more of the Powderhorn area, try the Powderhorn Park and Lake trails. If you need some support, our guides can get you up and down those hills with some fun and history added along the way!

Now if you want something new, our guides can get you into the higher Rio area on hikes such as Deep Creek Trail. This is a moderate to difficult trail that is nine miles one way but can be hiked out and back for some breathtaking views. Another favorite is Inspiration Point. It is labeled difficult because of the steep nature and countless switchbacks. However, this trail is 3.5 miles one way and has great views of the town of Creede and the Rio Grande River. The locals know this trail as Perspiration point.

If you are looking for campgrounds, there are quite a few open now. Try Wupperman on Lake San Cristobal for something closer to town. Or off of County Road 30 is Mill Creek and Williams Creek. North of town is Red Bridge and The Gate, our favorite, but it has been known to close during high water so be forewarned. If you want to be up Slumguillion Pass, the Deer Lakes and Cebolla area campgrounds are all open. And just past Slum and Spring Creek are North Clear Creek and Bristol Head campgrounds.

Motorized Riding
For you jeepers and OHV enthusiasts, we still have many places for you to go even though you cannot connect the two sides of the Alpine Loop. For Country Road 30, you can still get to the first winter gate to see avalanches, as well as meander into Sherman and the Cottonwood Creek road. You can also go off of CR 30 and up on the Wager Gulch Road (CR35), but you will be stopped by snow about a mile before the Carson ghost town.

Closer to town is Round Top Road (CR14) where access is just by our ski hill. Or go North of town on Highway 149 to Powderhorn. Again that Powderhorn area is large and beautiful and includes rides like Powderhorn Lakes (CR58), which is about 10 miles.

For you Big Blue and Alpine Plateau fans off of Highway 149 North, those areas are still closed. The gates were open the other day for a review of the area by the forest service. They are seeing too many large drifts up there to allow clearance right now. We’ll keep you posted.

If you travel South on Highway 149, try the Deer Lakes area (CR 788). It’s a long county road where you can spend some time at Deer Lakes and then travel through the Cebolla canyon area and into Powderhorn, ending at Highway 149 North of Lake City. You can spend the day on that one!

Just past Spring Creek Pass off of Highway 149 South is Continental Reservoir (FS 513). And while you’re there, don't miss crossing Highway 149 to stop and see Clear Creek Falls (FS 510). You look down into the falls from the viewing area. It is raging right now!

Just a bit further south off of Highway 149 is Brown Lakes (FS 515) and you can continue to Black Mountain Lake (FS 515 and FS 516 to FS 514 and FS 514.1E). Another option for the more adventurous is Heart Lake (FS 515 to FS 516 to FS 548 to FS 518.1B). The Rio Grande Reservoir road (FS 520), which normally takes you to Stony Pass (FS 520) is open as far as Pole Creek.

Boat Tours
Something different and fun for you would be a pontoon boat tour on Lake San Cristobal. We offer evening boat tours on the Lake for wildlife viewing, conversation, and a bit of history. Give us a call for reservations. We can fit up to 13 people.

Remember that as you go higher on most of these roads and trails, you will run into snow and debris. You may have to turn around. For vehicles, that normally means some pretty tight turns.
Enough? We’ve got a few more activities for you to try while in Lake City, and our guides can get you there. So come see us or call us for more details. We can help you get “into the outdoors!”

The Staff at The Sportsman