Warmer Weather Brings Anglers to Streams and Lakes Around The West

LAY OF THE LAND | June 2022

If you’re really gung-ho, any season is a good time to fly-fish. But the advent of warmer weather gets more anglers into the streams and on the lakes of the West.

Ken Mirr | Fly-Fishing at Pass Creek Ranch

Season and Place Matter

Every season has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, even though Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, most mountain creeks and rivers are still running high with snowmelt. Those swollen waterways can be hard to read, but the fish are still there, the crowds are smaller, and you can have a great day if you embrace the situation.

Where you fish matters. If you choose tailwater, a dam-controlled stream, you’ll typically find more and (often) bigger fish, given the dam’s ability to regulate flows. That said, there also might be more people fishing that water. If you opt for a free-flowing river that relies on rainfall and snowmelt, it will help you escape the crowds. But if snowfall for the year is down, the result will be lower flows and warmer water, not ideal for fishing.

Wherever you choose to go, you’ll need to “match the hatch,” the process by which anglers try to imitate natural insects in the water with their artificial flies. Depending on the time of year and location, the hatch can change. Hatch information may be found online, and you can also benefit from connecting to local angling guides. 

No matter what tactical approach to fishing you take, it’s important to put safety first, especially if you plan to wade during periods of increased water flows. There are a variety of sources available on the internet to learn more about conditions across the region (For example, this Colorado report), so make sure to do some research before you go.

State Wildlife Departments

You can find a wealth of information on websites hosted by state wildlife departments. Here’s a sampling of what you can find:

  • Colorado Parks and Wildlife: Buy your license online, learn the state’s 35 speci​es of warm-water and cold-water fish, and find fishing events.
  • Wyoming Game and Fish Department: Learn state regulations, buy licenses, find out where you can go to fish and read stocking reports.
  • Idaho Fish and Game: Get the rules and seasons, keep up with stocking, and read details on fishing for Chinook, Steelhead and Coho.
  • Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks: Get the basics on licenses, learn regulations and the latest on stocking, even explore a map of state fishing sites.
  • New Mexico Game and Fish: Find out about the native species, check on the latest conditions, buy a license online, and learn about the laws governing access to water.
  • Utah Division of Wildlife Resources: Learn the rules, get stocking reports, buy a license online, read about record catches, and find out how to download the state’s hunting and fishing app.

Water suitable for fly-fishing, of course, also impacts the value of a ranch investment. Learn more about that by watching the livestream we just hosted: Stream Access, Restoration, Fisheries and More. Ranch broker and fly-fishing property expert Daniel Carter joined us for a market update on these ranches and also discussed stream access, stream restoration projects, and more.

What else?

WATER WOES: The latest US Bureau of Reclamation forecast suggests that Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir that serves millions in the Southwest, will drop 12 feet by this fall. If the trend continues into fall of 2023, the forecast says the lake will fall to 26 feet lower than its current level and trigger severe water cuts for the region. More

LATEST LIVESTREAM: Recently I shared links to livestream conversations hosted by Mirr Ranch Group on water in the west, hunting trends, and the fundamentals of ranch investment. Since then, we’ve hosted The Fly-Fishing Property Market: Stream Access, Restoration, Fisheries and More, featuring fly-fishing property expert, Daniel Carter. Want more? Daniel’s written a blog post with even more details about stream access in the western U.S. More

CATTLE CALLING: Cattle ranching today presents challenges for smaller operators, but there are numerous innovators making moves that are improving the odds of success. Learn about those new approaches, get a primer on decisions you need to make if you investing in a cattle ranch, and learn who The Real McCoy was in our latest “Deep Dive.”  

END OF AN ERA: Gil Ordway, an early leader of the Jackson Hole Land Trust, died on May 30. The Jackson Holes News and Guide reported that “his most prominent preservation success was Hardeman Meadows, (which) was facing development when Ordway took a lead role in buying and preserving it in the 1970s.” Read more.

Lay of the Land is a monthly column by Ken Mirr, the Founder and Managing Broker of Mirr Ranch Group, that highlights news of the West impacting the ranch lifestyle. Have a question about the West? Email him at Ken@MirrRanchGroup.com.

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