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.
The Yampa River, below Stagecoach, is closed. Low flows coupled with high water temps are putting trout survival at risk. In times like this, there is less dissolved oxygen in the water for trout to consume. As such it has been deemed necessary to refrain from putting additional pressure on them to conserve the fishery. Unfortunately, the public stretch of the Yampa River through town is also closed, so if you're itching to fish in the Steamboat area, you'll have to check out other streams such as Elk River.
The Yampa River is a beautiful and diverse river that originates in the Flat Topps Wilderness and flows 250 miles where it meets the Green River. Arguably the most popular stretch of the river is the tailwater section below Stagecoach Reservoir. Conveniently located only 20 minutes from the town of Steamboat Springs, this stretch receives heavy angling pressure during the spring, summer and fall. During the winter, the access road is closed, which deters many anglers, so if you’re willing to make the walk, you’ll find solitude. While you can never go wrong with midge and baetis patterns, the tailwater experiences a number of hatches throughout the year, including midges, BWOs, PMDs, caddis, golden stonefly, yellow sally’s and a variety of terrestrials. The Yampa Tailwater is famous for big rainbow trout but also contains a strong population of healthy brown trout.
Due to heavy angling pressure and high water clarity, the trout in this stretch are very smart and won’t be fooled easily. If you’re used to fishing some of the other Colorado tailwaters, this won’t catch you off-guard, but if you’re new to tailwater fishing, be prepared to make precise casts with a long leader and 5x-6x fluorocarbon tippet. For most of the year, nymphing will be the most productive strategy. If you find that you’re spooking trout with your cast, put on a tiny indicator (yarn indicator is preferred) or rig up a deep dry dropper setup with two nymphs trailing 3 ft below your dry. Midge and baetis never go out of style on this river, but if you’re fishing during the summer, come prepared with a variety of caddis and stonefly nymphs. During the summer, heavy hatch and terrestrial activity will encourage trout to feed on the surface, which leads to fantastic dry fly opportunities. This stretch contains deep pools, runs, pockets and riffles. Deep pools and pockets will hold a majority of the trout but don’t rule out the pockets and riffles during the warmer months.
With one entrance and a single parking lot, accessing the Yampa Tailwater is straightforward. From Steamboat or Oak Creek, take County Road 14 to Stagecoach reservoir and turn onto County Road 18. This dirt road is open during the late spring, summer and fall. This road parallels the lake and will drop you down below the dam. At the bottom of the dam is a dirt parking lot. From here, follow the trails down to the river.