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 fishing well. That said, flows remain on the lower end and trout are stacking up in the deeper water most of the day. As flows begin to rise in the coming weeks, look for trout to spread out during the afternoon and feed more heavily at varying depths and locations in the river. Nymphing with small and imitative midge and baetis patterns continue to produce the best results. However, look to fish some bigger bugs in the stonefly and caddis larva variety as spring progresses. Trout here are generally selective, but more so in times of low flow. As such, keeping a low profile and sticking with short and clean casts will be imperative to success. Additionally, water clarity is high in times of low flow and sight fishing opportunities are abundant. Do your best to locate feeding trout before aimlessly casting. As far as flies go, keep it simple. Black Beauties, Mercury Midges, Top Secrets, Jujubaetis, Stalcup's Baetis, RS2s and Scuds are all effective options. Focus more on presentation and depth as these trout are picky and will easily spot a fake. Surface action is picking up as well and trout are increasingly looking to the surface. If you see trout actively rising, don't hesitate to rig up a dry or dry dropper. You can get away with 5x tippet, but we'd encourage you to downsize this time of year given low flows and high water clarity.
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.