Salomone: Why try warm water fishing?
Vail Valley Anglers
The local river conditions have not really improved a great deal. Warm water temperatures continue to be a difficult condition to negotiate. While looking around for alternative places and fish to pursue may not be the experience some anglers are looking for, there is another option to explore when the “cold water” rivers run warm.
Located downvalley in the town of Gypsum is a wonderful area maintained by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife named Gypsum Ponds State Wildlife Area. State wildlife areas are lands managed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife for mainly hunting and fishing activities.
State wildlife areas are purchased with sporting dollars from anglers and hunters. And you will need a valid hunting or fishing license in order to use them, which means you will always be among like-minded individuals seeking the same recreational activities.
Within the boundaries of Gypsum Ponds is a little more than 2 miles of winding Eagle River. There is a large pond located at the main parking lot and a smaller pond flowing into the large pond off the eastern side. The small pond has an island. The ponds have been stocked with a large variety of fish, from rainbow trout to bluegills and smallmouth bass.
Having some warm water species to pursue during the rising river temperatures can provide challenges to a fly angler as well as some amusement that will make you feel like a kid.
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
The variety of panfish in Gypsum Ponds provides an interesting attraction. Bluegills use the vegetation growing along the bank of the pond for cover and ambush feeding opportunities.
Yellow perch, a fun little fish, prefer water a tad bit cooler and sit in slightly deeper water out past the drop where the vegetation stops. The smallmouth bass are found cruising along the outer edge of the weeds, swimming parallel to the shoreline.
Fly anglers can choose from a variety of tactics to tempt the fish found in Gypsum Ponds. Nymphing, streamer fishing and top water options cover all the bases. A basic 9-foot, 5-weight fly rod and any fly reel can handle the duties necessary. However a 4-weight will increase your fun factor.
When nymphing, experimenting with a variety of depths will help an angler zero in on the correct zone to target. There is no issue getting your flies down as there is no current to deal with. Smaller weights work just as effectively as large sinkers and won’t mask a subtle strike. Damsel nymphs, large pheasant tail nymphs or a San Juan worm will keep nymphing anglers busy.
Small streamers like woolly buggers, squirrel tail leeches and zonkers provided great action. Drawing the attention of smallmouth bass as well as the resident rainbow trout that are stocked regularly, streamers are an active approach to fly-fishing Gypsum Ponds. A 5-weight or 6-weight handles the duties involved with streamer fishing.
But the most fun a fly angler can have with warm water species is with top water flies. Damsel dry flies can bring slurping trout up to the surface and make panfish willing to pop on a dry fly.
A top water popper is the most fun when the bluegills want to come up and play. Chugging small poppers across the surface will bring smallmouth bass up to crush the commotion too. Poppers can be an unexpected pleasure for warm water fly-fishing.
The reasons to look for other targets for fly-fishing are evident. The temperatures keep creeping up during the day on our local rivers. Seeking warm water species willing to eat a fly can be a challenging, rewarding and fun-filled alternative.
Gypsum Ponds is a precious gem located on the banks of the Eagle River. But if we don’t get a handle on the water issues that are ever increasing across the Western Slope, we might be fly-fishing for warm water species in places where we used to catch trout.