Snowpack Levels High at Elk Creek Ranch

With snowpack levels around 150% of the normal average in the White and Yampa River basin, we are likely in for a longer and more fierce runoff season than usual at Elk Creek Ranch.

Overall, the huge amounts of snow we have had over the winter will have a positive impact on the ranch and its surrounding ecosystems in the coming year. The amount of water in our river systems will make fishing more difficult in the early months of summer, but the effects of flushing the stream and a longer supply of fresh cold water will certainly be appreciated later in the season.

Comparing to Past Years

Compared to last year, we can look forward to about double the amount of water being held in the way of snowpack upstream of the ranch creating unprecedented amounts of in-stream flows in the White River, Elk Creek, and all of the streams surrounding ECR.

The graph below shows the snow water equivalent in the White-Yampa River basin and points to this year having the most runoff since levels were first recorded in 1985.

Elk Creek Ranch - Snowpack Graph
Source: NRCS

Fly-Fishing Expectations at Elk Creek Ranch This Year

The high flows will change the way that anglers have to approach the waters on and around ECR during runoff. Expect to be spending a lot of time fishing on and near the banks for most of May and June as fish try to conserve their energy from the rapidly flowing waters.

Once the high flows taper off around the 4th of July, we will be thankful for the amount of snow, as the streams will stay at a healthy level and temperature for what would usually be the dog days of the fly-fishing season.

In previous low-water years, the fish tend to be more sensitive, feeding in the early mornings and evenings to beat the heat from late July to the end of August. This summer, I would predict that the fish will actively eat throughout the day with plenty of cool water continuing to feed the White and Elk Creek in late summer.

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