We were up in Steamboat this past Labor Day weekend, and I fished the Yampa 3 days in a row. And sometimes, things just line up right, y’know? And after a year of things not quite lining up right in other elements of my life – a near-miss here, a dropped ball there, an egregious field goal attempt that soars wide left - I’ll take the little victories where I can get them.
It was one of those days where, in the end, not a whole lot really needs to be said about it; especially when the accompanying pictures (see slideshow below) so adequately showcase the beauty of our surroundings and the fact that, this time, there was a lot more catching going on.
Nonetheless, here are a few details…
We asked Tim and his family to come spend the weekend with us in Steamboat. The wives had Saturday to themselves as Tim and I watched the toddler (ours) and the infant (theirs). The ladies hiked Mad Creek (not a bad little brookie stream itself, if you’re wondering), and soaked in Strawberry Park Hot Springs afterward – a quintessential Steamboat summer day.
Tim and I had Sunday morning for fishing and we started early, on the water before 7:30.
The low morning sun was honey colored and perfect, and hit the water in that angled way that a lot of us don’t often get to see (usually because we’re not out fishing early enough). We started at a bend west of town, a good 300 yard stretch that is away from the road, has no buildings on it, and gives the illusion of being a lot more isolated than it is.
It’s just that sometimes it looks a lot different.
I fished the Yampa tailwater below Stagecoach reservoir this weekend without Tim, just south of Steamboat Springs, and it was the biggest I’ve ever seen it. The water below the dam averages 80-100 cfs most of the year except for a brief period every spring where they let it loose so that the reservoir doesn’t overflow. In the above picture, not only is the bottom release CRANKING out water at a scary rate, that’s also more water coming over the spillway than I’ve ever seen. I’d guess the flows were at least 600 cfs, but there’s no way to know for sure since the measuring station has been down for weeks.
This year is the biggest runoff year in the ten years I’ve lived in Colorado. Rivers are still hundreds to thousands of cubic feet per second above averages, and while they remain playgrounds for rafters and kayakers, fishermen stare wistfully from their cars and continue to tell themselves things like “Well, at least it’s good for the health of the river.” Throw in a wet start to the summer, with torrential afternoon rains at least once or twice a week, and rivers likely won’t be down to average flows until August.
But, I digress, as that’s not really what this post is about. This post is about home waters.