Gold medal casting at Steamboat Lake
Steamboat Lake State Park, 27 miles north of Steamboat Springs on Routt County Road 129, is one of Colorado’s best-kept secrets.
Somehow the premier trout fishing destination, one of only three lakes or reservoirs to carry the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s prestigious Gold Medal rating, is not over-fished and maintains an excellent carry over of fish populations from season to season.
“If you don’t get a hook on every cast, you’ll at least get a hit with the opportunity for bigger fish,” Steamboat’s Straightline Sports co-owner Brett Lee said.
The various creeks surrounding Steamboat Lake produce healthy numbers of naturally spawning trout that combine with the DOW’s stocking efforts to create a lake loaded with large cutthroat and rainbow trout. The 1,053-acre lake has ample secluded fishing spots and regulations that allow anglers to bag four fish a day with an eight-fish possession limit.
The lake can get busy with motorized crafts in the summer, so State Park Resource Technician Matt Blecha recommends that anglers find some of the prime wakeless areas of the lake such as the coves off of Rainbow Ridge or that they wade or float out from the reach of shore-casters.
For early season catches, the lake’s cold water streams, such as Willow and Larson Creek, attract the spawning trout, and Blecha said they are best fished with “bigger nymph flies and wooly-bugger flies that look like crawfish flies, but they’ll even bite on jig-spinners and salmon eggs early on.” Lee recommends finding shady sections of shoreline where the trout like to feed on minnows.
During peak tourist season, Blecha said the far side of the lake, near the dam, offers a better chance for catching the big ones that have grown large in the deeper and more remote waters adjacent to the dam. Access this area by using the separate entrance off Routt County Road 129 marked Sage Flats, half a mile south of the Visitors Center.
As the spring heat thaws the ice, Northwest Colorado anglers in the know wait eagerly to get out and fish the lake.
“It’s a yearly event for Steamboat locals. Right when that ice comes off the lake, the lake will be on fire,” Lee said.
Steamboat Lake is a Colorado State Park. To reserve shoreline campsites, call 800-678-2267 or visit http://www.parks.state.co.us.
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Explore a mix of events happening this weekend in Routt County.