Note: This report is a part of the FlyCast Lite reporting program and is updated seasonally or in the event of substantial changes that alter fly fishing tactics. FlyCast Lite reports are intended to give anglers a high level overview on seasonal conditions and general fishing tactics.
After several months of cold weather and ice, Tarryall Creek is open for business and fishing well. Flows are on the lower end and trout are predominantly holding in the slow and deep pools and runs. At this point, fishing closest to the dam is producing the best results. However, if you make your way downstream, trout are beginning to feed more heavily given open water and new bug life. Nymphing and dry dropper fishing are producing the best results right now. When nymphing, we like to lead with heavier, tungsten bead head bugs as opposed to applying our own split shot. That said, there's no harm in managing your own weight. As far as flies go, Guide's Choice Hare's Ears, Flashback PTs, Rainbow Warriors and red Copper Johns are all productive lead flies. Otherwise, trail any of the aforementioned lead flies with one or more smaller midge or baetis larva/pupa. Dry droppers are our favorite style of fishing on this creek as it gives you a shot at ambitious trout looking up as well as covers the sub-surface sections of the water and makes for a clean presentation. If you go this route, lead with a small attractor dry fly like an Elk Hair Caddis, Micro Chubby Chernobyl, Amy's Ant or Hippie Stomper. Trail any of these flies with 12 to 18 inches of tippet (or 1.5X the depth of the water) followed by one or more smaller nymphs. Surface action is heating up as well, so keep an eye out for midge and BWO hatches and actively rising trout.
Tarryall Creek originates at roughly 11,500 ft on Mount Silverheels and flows southeast into South Park where it meets a number of feeder creeks, most notably Michigan and Jefferson Creek. From South Park, it flows a little over 20 miles into Tarryall Reservoir. Upstream of the reservoir, Tarryall runs through open meadows and predominantly private grazing land. Just below the Tarryall Dam and diversion, the landscape is largely the same. However, it quickly approaches a heavily wooded canyon and steep granite walls. Tarryall Creek offers a variety of small to medium sized rainbow and brown trout, but there are certainly a few lunkers in the 18 to 20 inch variety. Additionally, it is not uncommon to come across wandering pike in the creek on either side of the reservoir.
The broader Tarryall Creek is most accessible from late spring through early winter. However, the tailwater section below the dam can be fished most of the year. That being said, low winter flows and harsh weather will leave most of the river iced over. In the summer, come prepared with some bug spray as the mosquitos can be relentless. While the nymph rig will produce in the colder months, the dry dropper is our preferred method of fishing most of the year and is particularly effective in the summer and fall. Trout here are not terribly selective and typically have eyes bigger than their stomachs. Meaning, little trout are not shy to hoppers that are half their size.Hatch activity is great particularly in the summer and fall. You can expect to see midges year round as well as BWOs from March to Nov. In the summer and fall, you can expect to see terrestrials, tricos, PMDs, stoneflies and caddis. Small streamers are a solid option too, but can be hit or miss.
While access is very limited, there are a number of public walk-ins above and below Tarryall Reservoir. Upstream of the reservoir, there are a couple walk-in access points that are clearly marked, one of which is the Tarryall Reservoir State Wildlife area which is about 2 miles northwest of the reservoir. Otherwise, below the dam, there is a quarter mile stretch of public water that offers easy and clear parking. Further southeast, on Highway 77, most of the water is private. However, there are a number of walk-in points at the Ute Creek Trailhead, at the Twin Eagles picnic area/campground and at the Spruce Campground. Beyond that, you enter Pike National Forecast land, but access is difficult. That being said, if you’re up for some “offroading” (4X4 or ATV) and looking for a hike (~2 miles), Forest Road 210 will take you to a trail system where you can access some low pressured water near the confluence of the South Platte.