Friday, May 30, 2008

Hooked on North Park..Delaney Buttes Bound!



Hooked on North Park
Area's trout havens don't get much publicity, but they offer a strong population of big fish
By Charlie Meyers The Denver Post
More Great Info on Delaney, Stillwater Fishing and Tips Here

WALDEN — Colorado's stillwater trout fishermen may be forgiven their current affliction of tunnel vision — just so they don't let it hang on too long.
This current infatuation with the reservoirs of South Park is easily understood. First came last summer's blockbuster reopening of Antero, followed by a winter drama of mortality that removed most of the large trout amid a blizzard of newsprint.
Attention shifted to nearby Spinney Mountain Reservoir, where a highly successful opening branded it the hot new place to be until a fresh stocking of Antero takes hold, perhaps in autumn.


Then came an even louder hullabaloo over zebra mussels and the various contortions aimed at preventing the spread of these aquatic hitchhikers: the daily inspection at Spinney, Elevenmile and other impoundments involving water providers; the continuing ban on motorized boating at Antero and Williams Fork; a general pain-in-the-posterior mood wafting over the whole business.


Lost in the publicity shuffle are the best lakes hardly anyone is paying attention to. The several trout havens of North Park — the three Delaney Butte lakes, Lake John and several lesser waters — aren't even close to a secret. It's just that folks from the Denver area sometimes get their sights twisted, forgetting old favorites that actually have gotten better with time.
While nothing ever can equal the raw eruption of big-fish catching that occurred last summer at Antero, the North Park lakes are every bit a match for Spinney and just about any other place on the Colorado map. Besides, you'll encounter no mussel cramps, no entry fees and ample free camping.


A boost in the North Park fishing can be traced to regulation changes, new in 2007, designed to keep more of the larger trout in the water at the Delaney lakes, where fly-and-lure restrictions already apply.


Rainbow and cutthroat trout between 18 and 22 inches must be returned to the water, along with browns between 14 and 20.
The result is a strong population of big fish in all three, trout that line up to eat when the dinner bell chimes the annual cycle of insects. This abundance — midges in May, damselflies in June, calibaetis from late June through August and scuds year-round — causes trout to sprout an astonishing 1 inch each month during prime growing season.
Specific angling strategies begin taking shape at ice-out, when larger cutts and 'bows oriented toward spawning prowl the shoreline within easy reach of every angler. This pattern became disrupted this spring when ice refused to leave; open water didn't come until mid-May, the latest date in memory and a month later than in 2007.


The result has been an erratic beginning that will gain purchase when warmer weather prompts an explosion of midges and, soon after, damsels. Fly-fishermen often find the best early result with a large chironomid pattern, the so-called "bomber" midge pattern.
For best result, suspend this midge just above bottom beneath an indicator. Anglers who prefer an active retrieve should try scuds, damsels or the ever-popular Wooly Bugger.
Late ice-out has kept lures in play longer than usual. On Sunday, a woman cranking

A South Delaney male rainbow in its finest spawning garb. To boost size, rainbows at the lake that are between 18 and 22 inches must be returned to the water. (Charlie Meyers, The Denver Post)a Kast-master appeared to catch more trout than anyone at the south butte lake.
Anglers who prefer fishing with bait gravitate to Lake John, an old favorite where a cook's broth of rainbows, Snake River cutts and cutt-bows still grow to trophy size.
The lone bit of bad news is that Cowdrey Lake, more shallow than the rest, appears to have suffered an extensive winter die-off.

North Park lineup
For the prime lakes of North Park, where you go determines what you get. Biologist Kurt Davies, right, plants fish with an eye toward maximum growth and a varied angler experience.
Lake John: Three separate strains of rainbow trout, Snake River cutthroat trout, some cuttbows. Davies laments that John, oldest North Park lake in its second half-century, now suffers from a preponderant biomass of suckers.
North Delaney Butte: The state's best population of trophy brown trout holds a 5-1 edge over equally large rainbows.
South Delaney Butte: "Snake River cutthroat grow really quickly," Davies said of an angler favorite that shares the lake with rainbow trout.
East Delaney Butte: A dominant rainbow
Chime in With Charlie
Post outdoors editor Charlie Meyers posts entries on this blog devoted to hunting and fishing. Visit it here.population shares the lake with

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