On Skiing Conditions and Trout Fishing

Photo by Chris Holder on Unsplash

The skiing in Colorado has been fantastic this year, but what’s the outlook for trout fishing? Have you used snow pack reports to predict summer and fall trout fishing conditions? If you haven’t, this may help you put a game plan together for your summer fishing trips in the mountain west. For 2020, Colorado is on track to have excellent water conditions through the summer and fall.

Winter snowfall in the mountainous western United States is critical in determining if a state has enough water to get through the dry summer months, or fall into drought conditions. The winter snowpack acts as a time-release of water throughout the spring and through the early summer (often April-June). It ensures quality water flows out of sub-alpine meadows, headwaters, small river tributaries, to ultimately main rivers in a watershed. While snowpack conditions aren’t the end-all, be-all of determining water and fishing conditions, it does provide some hints to what could be expected.

I track snowfall for a couple of reasons: In the fall/winter I use it to determine where I’ll be skiing. By March, much of the expected winter snowfall has occurred, and some clues about what lies ahead for water and fishing conditions, based on how much is lying on the ground in the mountains, and what the water content is. Thankfully, finding this information is pretty easy on the internet with a quick search.


South Platte River Drainage Snow Water Content. Courtesy of: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/co/snow/products/?cid=nrcs144p2_063323

Colorado has had fantastic snowfall so far in 2020, generally at or above historical average. Looking at the above graph of water content in the snowpack of the South Platte River drainage, which flows through Denver and much of the northern Front Range mountains feed, we are at 128% of normal (orange average line). Pending any long spells of hot weather between now and early May, to melt much of the snow rapidly, we should have a nice long trout fishing season this year.


Colorado Statewide Snow Water Content. Courtesy of: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/co/snow/products/?cid=nrcs144p2_063323

Looking at the statewide totals so far, we are just a tick above historical average, which is always a good thing for fishing in the summer through fall.

To summarize, skiing conditions have been great in Colorado this year. And as a result, we are looking at a quality fishing season on the Front Range and state-wide. If you’re a snow sports enthusiast, fishing enthusiast, or both, tracking winter snowpack reports is a beneficial way to get a forecast a great powder day. They can also help you predict fishing conditions during the times of the year you plan on wetting a line. As always, don’t hesitate to call us to see what the water conditions are like for Rocky Mountain National Park waters, and what to expect for the upcoming season.

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