Steamboat Springs — Tubers and fly-fishermen were coexisting nicely and making the most of ideal conditions Thursday as the Yampa River was flowing at 230 cubic feet per second in Steamboat Springs. But that couldn’t disguise the fact that the river level is well below norms for this time of year and headed lower.
The median flow for this date is 775 cfs.
But for now, the flows are fine and veteran Steamboat angler Bob Bomeisl managed to catch and release a large trout in the midst of a hatch of yellow tubers Wednesday. The fish was a 23-inch brown trout that rose to a dry fly.
After falling steeply for the last week, the Yampa appears to be settling into more stable flows, or at least declining more gradually. Yet, the Colorado River Basin Forecast Center in Salt Lake City reports current flows here are below the 25th percentile in terms of typical flows for this date.
At this time last year, the Yampa in the Steamboat town stretch was flowing at an all-time low for the date of 44 cfs. It was on June 25, 2012, that the Steamboat Today reported the Colorado Water Trust had signed a groundbreaking agreement with the Upper Yampa Water Conservation District and the Colorado Water Conservation Board to lease water from Stagecoach Reservoir to bolster flows through Steamboat.
The 4,000 acre-feet from Stagecoach was enough to keep an additional 26 cfs in the river.
Upper Yampa District Manager Kevin McBride confirmed Thursday that he has been in discussions with the Water Trust about a similar arrangement this year.
“We’re optimistic,” McBride said. “We’re talking with them, but we haven’t signed anything yet. I talked with (Water Trust attorney) Zach Smith (on Thursday), so I know it’s on their minds.”
The river where it flows through downtown Steamboat was flowing at more than 600 cfs on June 20, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and this weekend’s flows will be more accommodating for family tubing. But the question is, “How long will that last?”
The Forecast Center is predicting that the river flows will remain above 150 cfs through July 5. However, in addition to the high-country snow that continues to feed the river’s tributaries this time of year, crop irrigation also is a factor in river levels.
Bomeisl said he expects the next few days to offer some of the best angling opportunities for large trout this season as the perfect convergence of several aquatic insect hatches offers the trout a virtual buffet.
“It’s kind of like a brunch thing, a smorgasbord of piscatorial pleasures,” he wrote in an email.
Bomeisl said the trout are feasting on pale morning duns mayflies, small stoneflies known as yellow sallies and red quill mayflies all hatching from mid-morning to mid-afternoon.