Every April, hundreds of anglers rise early in the morning and sit in their cars and trucks waiting for the fabled Spinney Mountain Reservoir to open for the season.
Yes, the fishing at Spinney Reservoir is so storied and and so legendary that locals and fishing tourists alike line up before the sun rises to get in and get on the water first.
Why the long lines and first day rush?
Spinney Mountain Reservoir closes in the winter time, and it doesn’t reopen until after ice breakup.
Anglers and fisherman alike are intent on being first to cast and land giant trout rising up from the depths to feed after a long winter.
Despite the limited time to fish each day (sunup to sundown), there is a lot of potential waiting in these Gold Medal waters. Spinney Mountain Reservoir is known for their giant rainbow trout, extra large brown trout, and rainbow/cutthroat hybrids that swim the long-sleeping waters of the reservoir each year.
Fly fishing is excellent all around the shores of the reservoir, and boats are permitted for those who wish to bring them. Repeat visitors to the reservoir find that boating improves their chances of catching that giant rainbow they’ve been after for years.
Most veterans of Spinney Mountain Reservoir advise against using floats though, as the winds are unpredictable, and storms have a habit of springing up suddenly. Be sure to keep well away from the dam whether you are fishing above or below it though, as fishing is prohibited in these areas.
While you boating may be the preferred method for fishing at the reservoir, those who take a waders-only approach to fly fishing will not be disappointed. The reservoir itself has over 2500 surface acres for you to try, and even if you find a spot and feel like moving on later in the day, there’s plenty of room to do so.
Don’t forget to pack plenty of supplies, bug spray, sunscreen, and drinking water though, as the nearest store is several miles away from the lake, and you don’t want to miss prime fishing time because you run out of a necessity.
The only time fishing is permitted at Spinney Mountain Reservoir is spring after the ice thaws until early autumn. The Division of Wildlife does not permit ice fishing at the reservoir, and everything is covered in thick layers of ice during the coldest months of the year. You want to make reservations locally well ahead of time if you are planning an extended trip too, especially if you are looking to visit on or around opening day. Local cabins, campgrounds, hotels, and other accommodations fill up fast.
Aquatic food sources in Spinney Mountain are pretty typical of stillwater environment and include:
Spring – Chironomids (#10-20), Scuds, Leeches
Summer – Callibaetis, Damsels, Scuds, Chironomids (#12-16), Leeches
Fall – Damsels, Scuds, Chironomids (#14-20), Leeches
Fly pattern recommendations for Spinney Mountain Reservoir include:
#08 -18 Red Chironomid
#10-18 Pheasant Tail Chironomid
#16-20 Rojo Midge
#12-18 Hares Ear
#14-16 Poxyback Callibaetis
#14-16 CDC Callibaetis (Tan, Olive)
#16 Hula Damsel (Tan, Olive)
#14-18 Olive Scud
#12-14 Stillwater Nymph
#12-16 Parachute Adams
#08-12 Woolly Bugger
A 9-foot 5-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on the Spinney Mountain Reservoir. For larger nymphs and streamers a 9-foot 6-wt with a sink tip fly line makes life easier. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 6X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.
There are a number of area fly shops and on-line retailers that publish Spinney Mountain Reservoir fishing reports. A few to check out are listed below.
The catch limit is 2, and you can only keep 1 if it is over 20 inches. The good news is that the reservoir also boasts a population of large Northern Pike who enjoy feasting on trout, and the Division of Wildlife is keen to eliminate them. When it comes to pike and yellow perch, you can catch and keep as many as you like.
Here are the special rules for fishing at Spinney Mountain Reservoir:
- All trailered/gas boats must undergo inspection for invasive species prior to launch and before exiting the reservoir
- Artificial flies or lures only-Bag/Possession Limit: 1 trout, 20" or longer-No fishing from half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise
- No fishing by the dam
- Special rules also for South Platte River above/below reservoir - catch and release below dam;
- Above reservoir: limit 2 trout, only one larger than 20", catch and release on all trout between 12" and 20".
-Park is closed for the winter months (dates vary each year); no ice fishing is permitted.
Colorado Springs Airport is roughly a 2 hour drive from Spinney Mountain State Park if you take US-24 West. You can camp at the Eleven Mile Reservoir State Park, or at the private camping grounds right by the entrance of the reservoir itself.
You can also find places to camp out in Pike National Forest just east of the reservoir, too. For those who prefer hotel stays to roughing it or the RV life, there are plenty of accommodations to be found in Colorado Springs.
As always, don’t forget to check local vacation rentals and cabin rentals in the area as well, as many times you can find some excellent deals on stays nearby for much less than a hotel.
Ken is an avid fisherman of 40+ years who loves to explore and find new places to fish. He created DIY Fly Fishing to help you do the same.
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