Fly fishing

Wading the shore on Spinney Mountain Reservoir

Advice for non-boats

Bob Volpe

One of three shimmering blue gems in the South Park area, just south of Fairplay, is Spinney Mountain Reservoir. Lately, wading from the shore with cuttlefish has been stalled.

Having a boat, float tube, or pontoon is a great way to cover plenty of water when looking for fish, but wading the shore can be just as productive if you know what to look for.

We can’t all have boats. For the floating disabled, shore fishing is a great way to spend the day alone, with buddies or with family. Basking in the sun, waist-deep in the water, flipping big dry flies to lifting rainbows is an exhilarating experience.

Spinney Mt. Reservoir is famous for producing some of the largest and healthiest trout in the state. It’s not uncommon to get trout in the five pound range here and in late summer they’re willing and eager to gobble big dry ones.

When you hook up on one of these beasts, you’re in Colorado’s version of the Nantucket Sleigh Ride. These fish pull like freight trains and never give up. Watching your line take off from your howling reel and suddenly seeing your back come closer and closer to get through your rod guides is a rush. With patience and skill, you can successfully bring these fish to the net. Just be ready for a long fight.

Fly fishing guide and trout fishing guru Landon Meyer has some great tips on how to be a successful shore fly fisherman. His techniques and experience have helped countless anglers, women and children become better anglers.

Here are some of Landon’s tips for fishing any lake from shore:

“The first plan of attack if you are unfamiliar with the terrain is to locate a topographical map of the fishery or get some advice from local experts. A map can show the main landing spots and little bays. deep where the trout cross.

“Once you locate these drop-offs that follow the contours of the lake, try to find structural points that intersect these traffic lanes. The tip of a point of land or the mouth of a bay brings you closer to fish by forcing them to squeeze around you. In rocky terrain, these spikes can sometimes save the day in high winds. Use them to shelter you from the wind for easier casting and better sight fishing. The last thing I’m looking for is an erratic structure that doesn’t show up on maps. Rocks, boulders and seagrass provide habitat for insects and shelter for trout that feed on them,

For those magical days when the wind drops and the clouds cover the sun enough for the trout to think it’s a good time to get up, you’ll likely find them feeding on adult gnats or clusters of gnats.

“Use a Grifftith’s Gnat or Parachute Adams (#16-20) and don’t focus on where a trout has just come up. Focus on the head of the trout and which direction it is pointing or moving when it breaks the surface. As these fish move to feed, they will not come up to the same spot twice. Direct the fish three feet or more, allowing your fly to be in sight as the trout approach. Too many flatwater fly anglers spend their time casting right behind a trout because that’s where it just came up.

“For accurate presentations, cast past the trout’s feeding path and slowly pull the fly past the fish as it approaches. This little precision retrieve will greatly increase your success.

Lately the dry flies of choice for Spinney have been Amy’s Ants, Callibaetis Spinners and Beetles. Bring plenty, because you’ll smash some of those big bullies if you use a 4X tippet (recommended).

Spinney Mt. Reservoir is designated a Gold Medal Fishery. These fishing areas have been designated by the Colorado Wildlife Commission as providing excellent places to catch these large trout. These waters are defined as being able to produce 60 pounds of trout per acre and at least twelve trout 14 inches or larger per acre.

There is a $7 entry fee, but all Colorado State Park passes are accepted.

Boats with or without a motor are permitted, but are subject to a hull inspection for invasive species.

Rainbow trout aren’t the only species of fish swimming at Spinney. Browns, cutthroats, cutthroat trout and pike also inhabit the reservoir.

Fishing regulations allow catching trout over 20 inches. All other trout must be released immediately. Fishing is done only with fly and lures. Anglers are encouraged to harvest all pike.