Back to Blog Published: April 25, 2023

Flat Tops Fishing Report (5/19/23)

The rivers and streams in the Flat Tops are running high and fast due to the combination of run off and recent heavy precipitation. Ripple Creek Pass remains closed, but County Road 8 from Meeker to Ripple Creek Lodge is open as are the Marvine Creek Road and the South Fork Road.

Flat Tops Rivers and Streams:

The North Fork of the White River produces some very nice cutthroats, rainbows and whitefish; many in the 16-20 inch range. Downstream, toward Meeker, 24 inchers are not uncommon. Closer to Trappers Lake, the fishing for brookies is generally excellent.

The North Fork along County Road 8 is running high and cloudy and wading is not encouraged. The conditions are challenging. The water upstream from the Himes Peak campground is not at cloudy and the conditions are slightly more favorable.

Access on the North Fork is somewhat limited, but the public water within the forest boundaries is not heavily fished. Be sure to respect private property boundaries. Most are well-marked.

The South Fork of the White River offers more public access than the North Fork, especially for those willing to do a little walking. The South Fork Trail (#1827) follows the river for about 24 miles. The trail is an easy to moderate walk and is well-traveled by hikers and horseback riders, but most fisherman don’t venture more than a few hundred yards from the campground, so don’t be deterred if the trailhead parking lot is busy.

We’re also seeing the high, fast water on the South Fork, but it’s running relatively clear. Although the conditions do present challenges, we are seeing intermittent stone fly and blue-winged olive hatches.

Marvine Creek is accessed via the Marvine Trail (#1823). The parking lot at the trail head is often full of vehicles and horse trailers, but the creek receives minimal fishing pressure.

If you’re look to fill a pan full of brookies for dinner, Marvine Creek is a wise choice. You really can’t go wrong with most of your standard dry patterns and dry-droppers trailing small nymphs have been very effective.

Big Fish Creek runs along the Big Fish Trail (#1819). The Big Fish Trailhead is on the left as you enter the Himes Peak Campground. The campground is on the Trappers Lake Road 6 miles from the intersection with County Rd 8. The trail sees some heavy use in the summer months, primarily by horseback riders. The creek is narrow and brushy in many places, but negotiating the brush is worth the effort as the creek holds some surprisingly large rainbows and cutthroats as well as plenty of brook trout.

Flat Tops Lakes:

At the time of this report, we haven’t been able to obtain information on any of the Flat Tops lakes. Most remain frozen or inaccessible due to remaining snow on the trails. As soon as we’re able to gather any information, we’ll let you know.

Trappers Lake offers a great opportunity to land a large native cutthroat and it should be red hot as soon as the ice comes off.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the special regulations for Trappers. Only artificial flies and lures are permitted and the number and size of cutthroats in possession is restricted, but keep all of the brookies you’d like! The lake sits within the boundaries of the Flat Tops Wilderness, so motorized vehicles and watercraft are prohibited.

Skinny Fish Lake is accessed via the Skinny Fish Trail (#1813). Skinny Fish is generally one of the first lakes to open up for the season and the fishing is excellent as soon as the ice is off.

Shamrock Lake and Mirror Lake are beautiful lakes that provide great opportunities for brook trout on dry flies all day long. Both lakes are accessed via the Mirror Lake Trail (#1821).

Wall Lake offers an excellent opportunity to do some fishing while enjoying a spectacular view. Wall Lake can be accessed via the Wall Lake Trail (#1818). A guided pack trip from Ripple Creek Lodge is the perfect way to enjoy Wall Lake.