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Trouts Journal

Snowpack Update - 3/21/18

Ivan Orsic / Mar 21, 2018

Well, I think that it’s fair to say that the roller coaster that is the Winter of ‘17/’18 continues on. After a delightfully wet late February and early March, we’ve slipped back into a pattern of unseasonably warm temperatures across most of Colorado. While this trend has led to a slight decrease in our mountain snowpack, it has also come with a few moisture-rich storms that have helped keep us at workable statewide levels as we entered the official start of Spring. Currently our Statewide Snowpack (see the chart below) sits at 70% of average, with the Northern portion of the state fairing quite better than the Southern drainages. While these numbers are certainly lower than the past few years (we’re actually trending pretty close to our 2012 snowpack), they are by no means doom and gloom. The key to remember is that today is only March 21st, and we still have our wettest months of the year, April and May, to come. So while we are all keeping our fingers crossed for more snow to finish off this ski season in style, we’ve got plenty of time left to see our mountain snowpack maintain and hopefully grow.

But let’s face it, there isn’t much anyone can do about the current state of snow in Colorado. So, instead of worrying about what we can’t control, let’s discuss how we can all use these current conditions to our collective advantage. First, the fishing right now is lights out good, with everything from tailwaters to freestone rivers fishing exceptionally well (and remember, typically when the skiing isn’t good, the fishing likely is, so be sure to check out our Apres Ski recommendations for the remainder of the ski season). This trend of quality fishing should only continue as the Fifth Season kicks into high gear and we progress through our Spring runoff.

This brings me to my next topic, that being what we can expect our annual runoff to look like this year? While there is no guarantee, the current weather and snowpack lends me to speculate that we will have a minimal runoff event this Spring. By minimal, I mean that the time our rivers are unfishable due to mountain snowmelt should be 2-4 weeks in length, as opposed to the 4-8 weeks that we’ve experienced in years past. And when you consider the flushing flows we’ve seen across Colorado the past few runoff’s, a lesser runoff event will a blessing for both anglers and fish.

Let’s all remember though that we do live in Colorado, and our weather is about as predictable as a wasp on speed, so there is still potential that our Winter Snowpack could end at near normal levels. But in the instance that it doesn’t, the overall result will be an increase in the number of quality days on the water for us all. I’ll be back with another Snowpack Update in April, so in the meantime be sure to stop by the shop, or maybe we’ll see you out on the water.

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