Visit the high lonesome – North Park offers trophy brown trout fishing |

Visit the high lonesome – North Park offers trophy brown trout fishing

Many Steamboat anglers consider the high lonesome country on the east side of the Continental Divide in North Park a part of their home waters.

North Park, an hour away via Rabbit Ears Pass, is 1,000 feet higher in elevation than the floor of the Yampa Valley at 8,000 feet. It is home to the headwaters of the North Platte River and four prominent sagebrush reservoirs that produce big trout. Thanks to the high alkalinity of the soils in North Park, the invertebrates that form the basis of the food chain are abundant, and fish put on weight rapidly.

Lake John is the choice for bait fishermen. Spin and fly fishermen who are content taking home only trophy trout often head to the three Delaney Buttes lakes.

Researching the Colorado Division of Wildlife Web page also reveals an abundance of public fishing leases on small meadow streams, where anglers can spend summer evenings hunting for reclusive fish hiding in undercut stream banks. Two of the more well-known public access points to stream fishing are close to Delaney Buttes. They are the Roaring Fork at Manville State Wildlife Area and the North Fork of the North Platte at Richards State Wildlife Area.

The Roaring Fork demands stealth, but will reward persistent anglers.

The three Delaney Buttes lakes all have their own personalities. North Delaney is designated “gold medal water” and is one of the DOW’s prime sources of brown trout eggs. The lake produces some spectacular fish, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always catch fish there. The lake can also be moody. Some fly fishers check out the north lake first, knowing that if the browns are pouting, the rainbows in East Delaney and the cutthroat hybrids in South Delaney are just two minutes away.

East Delaney is known for amazing mid-morning damselfly hatches in June. Wading fishermen can do well on the east side of the lake. In the evening, it’s apt to be a midge hatch.

The south lake sometimes offers up the easiest woolly bugger fishing for bruised egos. But not always.

There have always been slot limits at Delaney Buttes, restricting the size of trout that can be kept. There are new regulations this year. Fishing is by artificial flies and lures only. Bag and possession limit for trout is two fish. Brown trout 14 to 20 inches long must be returned to the water immediately.

Rainbows and cutthroats 18 to 22 inches long also must be returned to the lake immediately.

Fishing in the inlets above the high water mark at north and south Delaney is prohibited. The DOW has also taken steps to eliminate the accidental, but growing problem, of fall snagging of browns in North Delaney – fishing is prohibited within 100 feet of the dam Sept. 15 to Nov. 15.

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