Rabbit Ears’ streams full of hungry brook trout | SteamboatToday.com

Rabbit Ears’ streams full of hungry brook trout

The fish in the streams flowing above Rabbit Ears Pass on U.S. Highway 40 don’t have it easy.

Many of the streams are covered by a blanket of ice and snow from as early as September to as late as July. The tiny summer feeding window means that the endless miles of streams become full of native brook and cutthroat trout in a frenzied search for food.

“The fish up there are locked up in snow all winter, you’ll be able to catch a lot of active fish,” Straightline Sports fishing guide Brian Bavosi said.

Because the streams off of Rabbit Ears cut through dense mountain brush, the streams lend themselves to dapping flies and lures from an extended rod directly onto the tight stream currents rather than to large casts. The lack of necessary casting maneuvers and presence of smaller, active fish make these streams ideal family fishing destinations.

Considering that kids younger than 16 do not need a fishing license and can take home 10 eight-inch brook trout per day, catching the ample stocks of hungry fish will provide entertainment for kids.

Once the streams are first iced off and clear for anglers, Bavosi recommends using nymph flies that the brook trout look for along with colored bead-heads like a blue or a black Copperjohn. By the late summer and fall, the fish are still hungry, but are more apt to strike stimulating dry flies and spinner lures.

“There are so many unnamed streams up there, but the tributaries and outlets of small ponds are your best bet,” Bavosi said.

One of the largest streams flowing down the west side of the pass is Walton Creek. The Walton Creek Campground, on the south side of U.S. 40 near the west summit of the pass, provides a good base for exploring the stream and the trails to its tributaries such as nearby Beaver Ponds.

Just east of the Walton Creek campground, another sure bet is Muddy Creek that flows through Dumont Lake, just north of U.S. 40.

“At the Muddy Creek inlet to Dumont Lake a lot of fish will be spawning for sure,” Straightline fishing guide Matt Hunt said. Dumont Lake has an adjacent campground, from which four-wheel drive road No. 311 leads to trailhead 1101. Hunt recommends the short and easy hike of about a mile and a half that leads anglers along Fishhook Creek and its promising inlets between Fishhook and Lost Lake. Access to this trailhead may not be clear of snow until at least June or July.

Until then, Muddy Pass Lake (west of the Colorado Highway 14 junction, visible to the north of U.S. 40) is an ideal family fishing lake that the Colorado Division of Wildlife stocks with rainbow trout.

For diehard stream-fishers, Grizzly Creek, which runs north off the pass parallel to state Highway 14 to Walden, is also a great park and fish spot.

“Grizzly may be small and have bushy banks, but there’s big fish in there,” Hunt said.

Anglers wishing for adventurous day trips fishing these streams should make sure to take a good map and be reminded that parking is prohibited along the highway-park in the designated lots along the highway.

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