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Refuge from rising waters

Jim Kanda, Gore Creek FlyFisherman

As most of you are quite aware, the rivers and streams that run throughout our valley’s floor have come up to or near record levels over these past few weeks. If you’ve been pulling your hair out trying to think of an alternative way to get your fishing fix, have no worries. If you are up for a bit of adventure and have access to at least an 8-weight rod, pike fishing at Stagecoach State Park should not be missed.

Located just south of Steamboat Springs, Stagecoach State Park can be found by heading north out of Wolcott on highway 131. Take 131 for about 50 miles going through the towns of State Bridge, Bond and Yampa. Just a few miles outside the town of Oak Creek, begin to pay close attention for County Road 14 on your right hand side. Take a right onto County Road 14 and follow the Yampa River for approximately 2.5 miles. When you get to the intersection where the Yampa flows into the reservoir, take a right and follow the signs to the state park boat ramp.

Once at the boat ramp, do not forget to pay the use fee at the self-service station. There’s nothing worse then coming back from a day of pike fishing to find you’ve been ticketed for your failure to pay park fees.

The Stagecoach boat ramp is nicely nestled in one of the many coves that border the reservoir on its south side. In these coves you will find ideal water conditions for pike to hold in and thrive. Consisting of points, shallows, grassy banks and deep drop-offs, the south side is typically where I concentrate the majority of my pike fishing. Though there are plenty of trails that parallel the banks, the best way to have access to all the different coves is from a boat or raft. When I am fishing for pike from either boat or shore, I begin by trying to spot pike holding in the shallows or along grassy banks.

Pike especially tend to hang out in these areas right after ice-out, during their spawn and in the early morning hours. By stalking quietly you may just come up on a pike holding tight along the bottom, laying in wait to pounce on its next victim.

Other areas of interest are the deep drop-offs that are typically found about 15 to 30 feet off shore. Pike generally are found in these areas during the hotter parts of the day, seeking shade from the heat of the sun and again taking cover to hide from their unsuspecting prey. I have found that an 8-weight rod, strung up with a medium sink tip line, works best for most conditions. Whether you are casting your fly deep into the willows along the bank or letting your fly sink along the deeper drop offs, a medium sink tip will allow you the most opportunities at pike.

Some patterns to try are the Umpqua Pike Fly, Deep Clouser Minnows in Red/White or Chartreuse/White, Barry’s Pike Fly in Red/White or Black and Stay Hungry Streamers in Shiner, Perch or White/Chartreuse. My best advice for you is to get off the couch, hop in the car, string up your 8-weight and tie on one of the monstrosities pike love to chew on.

Now more then ever is the right time to chase pike around the many coves found at Stagecoach State Park. Have fun and don’t forget to strip set!


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