Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Fly Fishing On The Yampa River In
The Yampa River is a very diverse river with several
types of water and several species of trout and other
fish. There are three basic areas you can fish for trout.
The upper headwater area that starts at the town of
Yampa; below Stagecoach Reservoir (tailwater) and in
Streamboat Springs below Lake Catamount. Much of
the river flows through private property.
The upper river has a good population of small
cutthroat trout and brook trout. Its a small stream that
is fun to fish but much of the stream above Stagecoach
Reservoir flows through private property.
Fly fishing the Yampa River is best in the Stagecoach
Reservoir Tailwater. It has some nice size rainbows and
brown trout. This is a medium size stream consisting
mostly of fast pocket water. The fast pocket water is
much easier to fish than the smooth sections of the
The section below Catamount that flows through the
town of Streamboat Springs has plenty of browns,
rainbows, Snake River cutthroat and even a few brook
trout. The river is wider in this area and slows down
some. It is best fished from a drift boat although there
is some public access. Fly fishing the Yampa River
provides any angler the chance to catch a nice trout in
a beautiful setting.
Some of the water is smooth flowing and provides the
trout a good opportunity to closely examine your fly.
For this reason, more realistic imitations of the natural
insects and other trout foods work better than the
generic and attractor patterns many anglers use. Good
presentations are necessary and drag-free drifts a
must in the smooth sections of the stream.
Yampa River Colorado
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Recommended Tackle & Gear
5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 & 12 ft., 5 or 6X, Nymphing:
71/2 ft., 3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rods:
Perfect Fly Superb Five or Ultimate Six
For 5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
Fly fishing the Yampa River can be
Trout can be taken all winter in the
Spring is good before the runoff
Yampa River Fly Fishing Guide:
Access to the Yampa River is plentiful. You
can access the Yampa River about five miles
upstream of Catamount Lake on County Road
#18 at the Sarvis Creek State Wildlife Area.
The Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area also
provides access. County Road #14 has
several pull off areas for anglers to park. In
Steamboat Springs. The Rotary Park off
Mount Werner Road has access and so does
the Fetcher Park off of Pine Grove Road. Dr.
Rich Weiss Park and Little Toots Park
provides additional access to the river. There
is also access at the James Brown Bridge
The tailwater below Stagecoach Reservoir
provides the best of the Yampa River fishing
in our opinion. It is catch and release fly
fishing as good as it gets. It's only problem is
that it is often crowded but in reality, that's for
a good reason. A Colorado State Parks pass
is required on your vehicle. Day passes can
be purchased at the parking lot.
Yampa River Hatches and Trout
Our information on aquatic insects is based
on our stream samples of larvae and
nymphs, not guess work. We base fly
suggestions on imitating the most plentiful
and most available insects and other foods
at the particular time you are fishing. Unlike
the generic fly shop trout flies, we have
specific imitations of all the insects in the
Yampa River and in all stages of life that are
applicable to fishing. If you want to fish
better, more realistic trout flies, have a much
higher degree of success, give us a call. We
not only will help you with selections, you will
learn why, after trying Perfect Flies, 92% of
the thousands of our customers will use
nothing else. 1-800-594-4726.
The Yampa River has some very decent
aquatic insect hatches for a tailwater.
Year-round, the main hatch is the mighty
midge. They hatch throughout the year and
in very plentiful quantities. There are red or
blood midges, cream colored midges and
light green midges.
Keep in mind, the different sections and
types of water in the river has different
insects and hatches.
Blue-winged Olives, consisting of several
species most of which are Baetis species,
hatch twice in the Spring and again in the
late summer, early Fall. You will find them
starting in March and continuing through
May. The bi-brooded insects hatch again in
September and October.
There are several species of stoneflies in the
Yampa River. Winter stoneflies hatch from
December through February.
In June, you'all find a few Salmonflies starting
in the fast water sections of water. This is a
short hatch lasting only about two weeks at
any given point. Just about the time the
Salmonflies are finishing up, Golden
Stoneflies will begin to hatch. It last longer,
usually about a month but is a larger, more
Little Yellow Stoneflies also begin in late June
and this hatch last through July. It is much
larger and all together, more productive to
Several species of Caddisflies are plentiful in
the Yampa River. The Little Black Caddis
start to hatch in late April and last about a
month. Spotted Sedges, of several species,
begin in June and continue to hatch through
mid October. They are the most plentiful.
There are Green Sedges in the fast water
sections. These caddisflies hatch in July and
August. Little Sister Caddis are present in
some sections of the river and they hatch in
July and August. There are a few October
Caddis that hatch in the fast water sections in
late September and October.
Sculpin are very plentiful along with several
types of baitfish and minnows. Streamers are
very popular and work great when the skies
are heavy overcast as well as early and late
in the day.
Terrestrial are also popular during the
summer months. Ants, beetles and hopper
are plentiful along most of the banks of the
The Sarvis Creek State Wildlife Area,
located about fifteen miles south of
Steamboat Springs has some great public
access. A Habitat Stamp is required by the
state when using a State Wildlife Area.
The Yampa River flows right through
downtown Steamboat Springs. Don't let the
easy access fool you. It can provide
excellent fly fishing opportunities. There's
over four miles of public access in town.
This is all "catch and release"" water. It is
possible to catch a grand slam there
including rainbow, brown, cutthroat, and
The river clears up by mid July and becomes
good. Late Summer can be excellent and
maybe the very best time to fish.
Early Fall is also excellent and the time large
brown trout can be caught during their
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (email@example.com)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.
All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $50 are shipped via
We have website pages
on each of these fine
trout streams. Click the
links for descriptions of
the streams, access
locations, species of fish,
a fly fishing guide, a fly
fishing report, hatches
and recommended trout
flies and equipment,
USGS stream data, local
weather and much, much
Headlines: The river continues to
be in good shape and produce
some nice trout for the few
anglers fishing it. The upper part
near the dam has the warmest
water thanks to the bottom
discharge. Midges, little
Blue-winged olives, Winter
stoneflies and Black Flies are
hatching. The Brown Sculpin
streamers continue to catch the
larger trout. Keep track of the
latest Yampa River fishing reports
on the above link.
Map of Yampa River
10/16/15 It doesn't get any better than it is right now n the Yampa. Some large brown trout are
being caught on streamers. The October Caddis are bringing trout to the surface to feed on
egg laying females. Anglers are catching trout from the dam all the way through Steamboat
Springs. The Yampa "tailwater" is a bottom discharge stream from Stagecoach Reservoir and
that means the water stays cooler throughout the summer months.
10/23/15 The tailwater is a little high now as they are running some water to lower the lake
after the recent rain. It should be back wadable soon, just keep a close check if you plan on
wading. October Caddis are at the peak of their hatch and bringing trout to the surface to feed
on the egg laying females. Blue-winged olives are hatching again, especially on cloudy,
overcast days. '\
10/30/15 Think big brown trout because that's what you're subject to hook fishing the Yampa
at this time of the year. They are in pre-spawn mode protecting their territory. Streamers like
our Brown Sculpin and White Belly Sculpin will fool them. Blue-winged olives are starting to
hatch good. October Caddis are still going strong.
11/06/15 The Discharges should be low for the coming days and stream levels good but the
water is going to be getting colder. Keep in mind, it is more affected the further you fish
downstream from the dam. The tailwater bottom discharge water temp varies very little. Blue-
winged olives, Midges and Sculpin will represent the big majority of the food for the trout.
11/13/15 The Yampa discharges have been low, and the fishing - "catching", good. Some very
big trout were caught in the tailwater this past week on our Brown Sculpin streamer. The water
at the dam is almost a constant temperature and midges are key. Fish the larva imitation on
the bottom and the pupa (in tandem) about a foot up the tippet.
11/27/15 Few out of town anglers are aware this little tailwater fishes as well as it does during
the winter. Everyone coming to this part of the state come to ski and the good fishing
opportunity is overlooked. You can consistently catch trout all winter long on midges below the
dam. The water temperature remain very near the same.
12/04/15 Good conditions exist in the Yampa River. The bottom discharge from the lake keeps
the water at a good temperature even in the coldest weather. Stream levels are good and
should remain good throughout the next week. The weather is going to be about average for
this time of the year with almost no chance of precipitation. Midges is the main insect you need
12/11/15 The water is getting a little colder but it is still in good shape near the dam. We
recommend fishing the first few miles below the dam. Notice we added Winter Stoneflies to the
fly list because that are starting to hatch. Fish the nymph imitation late in the day and the adult
imitations only when you see them laying eggs on the surface. Midges are still the most
important insect to imitate.
12/17/15 The river looks almost like it does in the picture above. There's plenty of snow on the
ground. The picture is far downstream from where you should fish. Fish as close to the dam as
you can because the bottom tailwater discharge is warmer and your odds are better. Midges
should be the most important flies.
12/25/15 The weather is turning colder but the snow should end tomorrow and you should see
some clear days for a change. Fish within a few miles of the dam. The closer the better
because the bottom discharge of water from the lake is warmer than the water miles
downstream. Fish midge larva and pupa in tandem and Winter soneflies. You may see some
hatching laying eggs and if so, fish the adult.
01/08/15 The snow ends tomorrow and you should have much less trouble traveling the back
roads. It will be clear and cold for the next five days. Winter stoneflies are hatching and you
may can spot the adults in the snow. Fish the nymphs very close to the bank as close to the
dam discharge as possible and legal. Midges is the other option but both should get you some
01/15/16 This little tailwater is Colorado's best kelp wintertime fly fishing secret. You can catch
trout any day of the winter. You do have to watch the discharges but they are just fine at this
time. Midges and Winter stoneflies are both hatching good. The White Belly sculpin streamer
has also been catching some trout.
01/22/16 This little tailwater is one of the best kelp secrets by local fly anglers. You can catch
trout in it all winter long except when the discharges are high and that is rare. Fish midges,
larva and pupa in tandem, and winter stonefly nymphs. Fish the White Belly sculpin during low
01/29/16 Midges, both cream and red or blood midges, with the larva and pupa imitations
fished in tandem is working best. Fish as near the dam as it is legal for the warmest water.
Little Winter stoneflies are also hatching. The Brown Sculpin has been working good during
cloudy or low light conditions.
02/05/16 Snow through Saturday, then clearing for a few days. Discharges are low and wading
possible right now, but always check the levels. Midges continue to be the best option for flies.
They are hatching on cloudy days and clusters have been reported lately. Fish near the dam.
02/12/16 The tailwater near the dam is still the only real option you have but it is a good one.
Make sure you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle because getting there is sometimes a bigger
problem than catching trout. Midges and winter stoneflies are the insect you should be
02/19/16 The tailwater below Stagecoach Reservoir continues to be the best option. The
discharges have remained low but you should always check them. You will still need to have a
4 wheel vehicle to access the area below the dam. Midges, winter stoneflies and black flies are
the main insects to imitate.
02/26/16 The tailwater is still the best location to fish. The warmer weather didn't change the
water temperature at all, just melted some snow and ice and keep the water just above
freezing. Fish near the dam using cream and red midge larva and pupa flies or Winter stonefly
03/04/16 You would think off hand, the warmer weather would make the condition be much
better than normal, but it just melts snow along the banks and streams flowing into the river
keeping the water stained and cold. It is like a mini-runoff. Fish near the dam using midges and
winter stonefly nymphs.
03/11/16 The very warm weather continues with some chance of rain and snow this coming few
days. Midges and Blue-winged olives are still the main aquatic insects that are hatching. We
still recommend fishing just below the dam. The water in the lower section of the river is a little
warmer, but not that much due to melting snow.
03/18/16 The tailwater below Sagecoach has been producing some nice size and numbers of
trout for our customers lately. The roads are clear right now and there is little chance of snow
until later next week. Midges, blood or reds, and creams, with the larva and pupa fished in
tandem is working the best.
03/25/16 There is little changes that have taken place during the last week. The Stagecoach
tailwater is still the place to fish. Some guys are traveling there on snow skies when the road
are not clear enough to travel. Midges and little BWO nymphs are still the best fly options.
04/01/16 The Stagecoach tailwater is the place to be. The roads are clear of snow and the
trout are taking midge larva and pupa along with little BWO nymphs very good. Fish the Brown
Sculpin streamer early and late. It has produced some big fish this past week. There have
been a few trout taken from the surface on adult midge imitations.
04/08/16 The tailwater at Stagecoach is still the recommended location to fish. The weather is
turning much warmer and we don't expect that to be the situation very long. March Browns and
Blue-winged olives are hatching good. Little Black Caddis should start anytime now. Midges
and BWOs are working good now.
04/15/16 They are running a lot of water through the dam and it is likely to continue. That's just
a guess based on the amount of rain that recently fell in the watershed. There is more rain and
snow in the forecast, so it is going to be at least three or four days before there is much
04/22/16 The discharges and stream levels are still very high and the water is dirty and cold
from melting snow. It is going to be much warmer this coming week but that is more rain and
snow. We just don't see much fly fishing opportunity for the coming week. Give it a few more
days. When it drops and clears, it will be very good.
04/29/16 The weather is remaining on the cool side and more wet snow is expected through
Monday. Next week may bring about some needed improvements. No reports came in this past
week. Midges and little Blue-winged olives are still the most important insects to imitate.
05/06/16 The discharges are currently high and the water levels too high to fish and badly
stained. This is likely to continue this coming week. It is all controlled by the discharges but
there is more runoff and lots more rain and snow expected. You will just have to keep a check
on the levels.
05/13/16 The discharges are still high and likely to remain that way for the coming week. The
headwaters are in runoff and the lake clearing. We don't see much opportunity for fly fishing
the Yampa other than casting streamers from the banks.
05/20/16 The Yampa is very high due to heavy discharges and stream levels due to the Spring
runoff. There is little to no opportunity for fly fishing and conditions will be this way for a few
days. You just have to keep checking this site or the stream levels to know when it drops and
clears. You will just have to watch the levels.
05/27/16 The runoff continues and will continue for the next few days. You will just have to
keep checking back and forth with us to known when you have some fly fishing opportunity.
06/03/16 The discharges and resulting stream levels are very high and to put it bluntly, the
Yampa isn't worth fishing. This is likely to continue to be the case for the next week. The
weather is warmer and the runoff is in high gear. Lets hope the early start means an early
finish to it.
06/10/16 The discharges are very high and likely to continue to be very high for the next week.
The runoff is in the full mode and they have to continue to keep the lake level down to hold all
the runoff water from the Yampa River watershed. Other than planning your next trip, all you
can do is wait and watch the stream levels.
06/17/16 The stream levels and discharges are way down from the past week, but not low
enough to provide much opportunity to fish. The water is still stained. It can be fished using
streamers and nymph rigs. We just don't think it is worth the effort unless your local and bored
sitting on the couch all day.
06/24/16 The river is getting in good shape very fast. The headwaters are clearing from the
runoff and the lake level down to near normal. Streamers, like our Brown sculpin, should get
you some good trout below the dam. The water is still tinted with stained but much clearer than
the past week. The runoff is close to being over.
07/01/16 The river is in very good shape and our customers are catching good numbers of
trout. There are a lot of different insects hatching, depending on the section of the river. It is all
in good shape. The forecast looks good for the coming week and we are expecting some great
fly fishing opportunity for those that fish the Yampa.
07/08/16 Good conditions continue for those fishing the Yampa. The river is in good shape in
all sections from its headwaters , below the tailwater at Stagecooach and the section trough
town. They are catching trout in the public access points in Steamboat Springs. There are lots
of hatches taking place. The following week should be a good one.
07/15/16 The Yampa is in very good shape in all sections. The water is low for the first time in
a long time, but still fine. You can wade many places. There are a lot of insects hatching and
our customers are sending in some very good reports. The section below the dam produced
some large trout this past week. The in town public access is even good.
07/22/16 Two good reports came in from customers this past week with good numbers of trout
caught. All sections of the river are in good shape. Several insects are still hatching including
lots of Pale Morning Duns and little Yellow stoneflies. There are others but some vary with the
section of water. Now is a very good time to fish the Yampa.
07/29/16 The river is in excellent condition from the tailwater at Stagecoach to the lowest
section of the river that holds trout. Lots of insects are hatching but they vary from section to
section. Send us an email for details on any section. We do recommend fishing as late in the
day as possible.
08/04/16 The river is in good shape, the best it has been this season. Our customers are
sending in good reports each day. Trout are being caught in all sections of the river. The
weather is turning a little cooler and there are still some good hatches taking place. Fish as
late in the day as you can. Caddis and little Yellow stones are depositing eggs the last two
hours of the day.
08/12/16 The river is in very good shape from one end to the other. Anglers are reporting
good catches from all sections of the river. Stream levels are good and boat and wading
anglers are scoring. There are lots of insects still hatching but the hatches vary with the
section of water. There are some Speckled wing quills not listed on our fly list hatching in the
slower sections of the river.
08/19/16 The discharges and stream levels are low but still okay. It makes it easy to wade a lot
of water but also easy to spook trout. You must stay hidden and make good presentations.
Terrestrials are working great and so are imitations of the egg laying caddisflies late in the day.
Sculpin streamers are catching trout in the early mornings.
08/26/16 The river is a little low but otherwise, in good shape. There are still plenty of hatches
taking place but they vary from section to section. Our customers are catching good numbers
of trout. Early morning streamer fishing is working. Late afternoon, fish the caddisfly egg laying
activity. Terrestrial imitations are working good as well.
09/02/16 This may be the most under rated stream in the state of Colorado. Locals, just soon
keep it that way. It is as very good trout stream with all types of water and lots of trout. Right
now, you can catch trout about anywhere you want to fish. The discharges and levels are a
little low, so be careful not to spook the trout.
09/09/16 It just doesn't get much better than it is right now. There are fewer visitors and
anglers fishing but the conditions to do so are better than they have been all year. The
weather is going to be much cooler. There's a freeze warning out one night this next week.
Terrestrial are working well and there are lots of aquatic insects hatching as well.
09/16/16 The river is in good shape throughout its length. Hatches are still taking place and
bringing trout to the surface. They do vary from section to section. You can catch trout from
the tailwater at the dam through Steamboat Springs. Terrestrials are also working good.
Hopper, ants and Japanese Beetles are catching trout.
09/25/16 The cooler weather is really helping the middle and lower sections of the river. New
hatches of October Caddis and Mahogany duns are staring along with plenty of BWOs. There
has been some rain and the levels may increase some but should be temporarily. All sections
of the river are currently in good shape with trout being caught.
09/30/16 We rarely mention in in the report but the headwaters above Stagecoach are in good
shape with few angles fishing. The entire river is in good shape with lots of options. It is mostly
not being fished although it is as good of a destination as exist in the state right now. There
are several hatches taking place and stream levels are in good shape.
10/07/16 The river is in good shape throughout. The stream levels are normal. Cloud cover is
helping the hatches, especially the Blue-winged olive hatches. October Caddis are hatching.
Brown trout are in the pre-spawn stage and taking streamers like our Brown Sculpin fly well. It
is a great time to be fishing the Yampa River.
10/20/16 The discharges and resulting stream levels make it easy to wade most sections. All
sections of the river are in good shape and producing good numbers and sizes of trout for our
customers. The upcoming weather forecast looks good for another week. Brown trout are in
the pre-spawn stage and taking our Brown Sculpin streamer well. It is a great time to fish the
10/27/16 Great conditions continue with few anglers taking advantage of them. There are
some very good Blue-winged olive hatching. Western Ginger Quills are starting to hatch. The
Brown trout are mostly in the pre-spawn stage and being caught on our Brown and White Belly
11/04/16 The river is in great shape for the first part of November. Brown trout are either
spawning or post-spawn. They are still being caught on the Brown Sculpin and White Belly
sculpin streamers. Blue-winged olives are hatching good. Fish the BWO nymphs mornings and
the swith to the dun when the hatch begins in the afternoon. Fish the BWO spinner late in the
11/11/16 The river is in excellent shape with few anglers fishing. The weather is nice and warm
with no chance of rain for the coming week. The discharges and stream levels are low making
wading easy. There are still hatches of Blue-winged olives, Western Ginger Quills and Cream
midges taking place. It couldn't get much better at this time of the season.
11/18/16 The water temperature in the middle and lower sections of the river is dropping rather
fast due to the cold night. The upper section of the tailwater is slow to change and the best
option right now. The discharges and stream levels are low and wading easy most places. The
Brown sculpin streamer continues to catch some very large brown trout.
11/25/16 The water just keeps getting a little colder. It is warmest at the discharge from the
dam. We do recommend fishing the upper section of the river. The stream levels and
discharges are low, and wading is easy. Blue-winged olives and midges ae hatching good,
especially with the heavy cloud cover expected this weekend. The Brown sculpin streamer is
still a choice fly to use