Runoff on the Rise in Colorado

Runoff is finally here in full force.  As of a few days ago, rivers statewide are rapidly on the rise.  The front range is no exception.  The snow storm we had in late May helped give us more snow, but it added so much that it is pushing the end of runoff back a number of weeks.  Don’t let the view from Denver or Boulder fool you. Runoff has not peaked.  There is still a ton of snow up high.

Here is a snapshot of the flows of some of the rivers around the state:

Boulder Creek: 637cfs

Clear Creek at Golden: 1250 cfs

Blue River Below Dillon Reservoir: 1200 cfs

Colorado Pumphouse: 2920 cfs

Roaring Fork below Frying Pan: 3270 cfs

Frying Pan Below Reudi: 130 cfs

Rio Grande: 1890 cfs

Arkansas at Salida: 3870 cfs

Animas River at Durango: 3780 cfs


There are one or two exceptions, but these flows are MASSIVE!  as you can see from the image above, the statewide snow pack is huge for this time of year.  Depending on how quickly it gets warm up high, we are in for a runoff of epic proportions.  These are flows well above the yearly average for each of these rivers.  They can be extremely dangerous at these flows.  If you do decide to fish them, use extreme caution.

On the Flip Side

The silver lining to all of this is that we will have cold clean water well into the fall.  The warming trend that we are experiencing will take its toll and really start to melt the snow which will drive the already record flows even higher.  My best guess is that it will be mid July before most rivers are at a fishable level. But, the keyword there is guess.

Tailwaters and Stillwaters

Our one saving grace through out of this, is that we have several tailwaters close that stay cold and clear even with a bump in flow.  South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir, the Big Thompson below Olympus Dam, Cheesman Canyon, Deckers, and the Frying Pan will all fish well.

Stillwaters are another great option this time of year.  The high country lakes should be mostly thawed out if they aren’t already.  It might take a little more work to get to them, but you can be rewarded with no other anglers in sight.  Warm water fishing is also very good this time of year for bass, carp, white bass, walleye, and other sunfish.


Wading during Runoff

Should you decide to make it out to the river, its better if you don’t try to get into the water unless you absolutely have to.  Carry a wading staff for extra support.  It will make your wading experience much better.  You also might consider wearing an inflatable PFD while out on the water.  Should you fall in, at least this will help keep your head above the water.  Lastly, ALWAYS wear your wading belt.


If you have the runoff blues, come in to the shop and talk to us about what other options you have this time of year.  We can point you in the right direction and put you onto the fish!