Rocky Mountain 2015 Fishing Calendar

Rocky Mountain 2015 Fishing Calendar
Idaho's Salmon River is a hotspot for steelhead, which are popular among Rocky Mountain anglers.

Idaho's Salmon River is a hotspot for steelhead, which are popular among Rocky Mountain anglers.

The Rockies are the envy of the fishing world when it comes to first-rate sport enjoyed amidst some of the most magnificent scenery on earth.

The Rocky Mountains are famous for the trout fisheries here, of course. And lots of anglers travel the planet to end here pursuing these glamour fish. But other species can be caught, including walleyes, catfish, stripers and largemouth bass. And some of that less-famous fishing can be done in near-seclusion, if that is one's desire. This roundup features it all. From the world-renowned, to the unknown of the Rocky Mountain fish world.

JANUARY


Cascade Lake Yellow Perch


Cascade Lake in Idaho has been a very hot spot for yellow perch the past two years. The state-record yellow perch record has been broken several times, and it might go down again this winter. The fishery is on the upswing and is very popular.

Historically, Cascade has been overpopulated with pikeminnows, which overwhelmed the perch population. And in the past, that imbalance ended up destroying a multi-million dollar ice-fishery. But tons of yellow perch were brought in by biologists, and the fish are apparently now able to keep the pikeminnows in check. A tremendous perch fishery has taken off in Cascade Lake.

Anglers use all kinds of baits and jigs to catch these rapidly-growing fish. And someone could, just maybe, pull in another state-record yellow perch this winter.

Other Options: Fish the Salt River


Chain in southern Arizona for largemouth bass. The fish make a great open water fishery here during a time of the winter when much of the rest of the Rockies are frozen over. Fish spinners and the usual bass lures.

RM Jan-MarFEBRUARY

Snake River Cutthroats


Eagle Nest Lake sits high in the mountains, 32 miles east of Taos, N.M. As such, it makes an ice-solid fishing lake during winter. Snake River cutthroats are stocked and are caught in abundance here. But other species are also readily taken during winter. The 2,200-acre lake is considered one of the finest lakes in New Mexico for trophy rainbow trout and kokanee salmon. The ice-fishing here usually begins in January.

By February it is in full swing. The surrounding mountains are loaded with elk, bear, mule deer, eagles and wild turkeys. So, the fishing experience takes in a lot the mountainous nature in New Mexico, as well.

Other Options: For a more unusual ice-fishing experiences in the Rockies, try for ling in the Laramie Plains lakes in Wyoming. These snaky-looking fish are considered horrid in appearance but to those who eat them ling is gourmet cuisine, indeed.

MARCH

Salmon River Steelhead

The steelhead of Idaho's Salmon River are so famous and so sought-after that anglers swarm here from out of state when a good run is on. March is usually a prime time. But anglers usually call to check the conditions and the state of the fishing before heading to Idaho.

When it's hot, they pick up beautiful rainbow-colored fish, often with deep red overtones. It is true trophy fishing. And the fish and the big river water on the Salmon River give a feeling of wildness that is unlike most other fishing experiences. Thus, the popularity of it is addicting. Steelhead fishermen keep coming back for more.

Other Options: Pueblo Reservoir in southern Colorado has good rainbow trout fishing this time of year. And being in one of the warmer and drier portions of the state, things kick off here far earlier than in the Colorado trout waters at higher elevations.

APRIL

North Platte River Trout

Much of this river flows near a highway, and there are public access areas along it. Fishermen generally float it, however. And the reward is long stretches of wild river abutting cliffs on one side, and big sage covered deer habitat on the other. In between that is a wonderful river offering huge trophy brown trout.

The April weather in Wyoming can be volatile, to say the least. The trout don't care. Some grow to an arm's length and are fully capable of breaking expensive fly rods to pieces. This is mostly streamer and nymph fishing. The Miracle Mile below Seminole Dam, and Gray Reef below Alcova are both famous. A bonus is the rainbow run, which usually takes off in April.

Other Options: In Flaming Gorge Utah a notable smallmouth fishery attracts a variety of bass addicts. The good fishing is just now getting under way, and the smallmouth angling in this Western setting makes an exceptional backdrop.

MAYRM Apr-Jun

Pelican Lake Largemouths

One of the top fishing lakes in Utah, Pelican Lake is one of the first lakes to warm up to the point where the bass start feeding heavily. Once the water gets to a temperature for these warmwater fish to actively gorge themselves, anglers relish the excellent fishing.

There are bluegills in this lake, too, so bass feed on them. And anglers catch both species. Favorite lures for largemouths here include tube jigs and curly tails that resemble crawfish and other prey. This time of year the fishing picks up after about three warm days to get the water heated up. And eventually, topwater action takes off.

Other Options: May is an excellent time to hit the trout waters all around the Flagstaff, Ariz., area. Spring is kicking off, and so are the insect hatches that trout feed on. It is classic trout fishing in a nice mountain setting. Cutthroats, brookies and rainbows can be taken with flies throughout this ponderosa pine region.

JUNE

Tiber Reservoir Walleye

Montana is justifiably renowned for the excellent mountain trout fishing. But out on the high plains that Lewis and Clark once traversed lie reservoirs loaded with walleye. And right now Tiber Reservoir 65 miles north of Great Falls has a walleye population that will cause even a trout fisherman to take notice.

Popular rigs here include the jig tipped with a minnow, the spinner and crawler harness, crankbait minnow imitations, and a floating jig head tipped with a nightcrawler. All of this is located fairly close to excellent trout waters, and as a result the walleye fishing pressure is light. Which is much to the delight of the walleye anglers who come here.

Other Options: Nice lake trout abound in Turquoise Lake just west of Leadville, Colo. And if the lakers don't happen to be biting, then the browns, rainbows or cutthroats probably are. Also, this scenic area likely will have fewer anglers than some other parts of Colorado.

JULY

Utah Lake Channel Cats

This is one of the more unusual places in North America to catch channel catfish because when you wrap your hand around one of these whiskered warmwater fish and hoist it out of the water, the snowy peaks of the Rockies are in the background. And a scene like that is unheard of in the main lairs of the muddy water homes of these catfish to the east.

The channel cat has a forked tail, which is a good identifier of the species. They tend to like current, but do well in lakes with high water quality. Utah Lake is excellent for them. And in the land of trout, you will almost certainly be one of the few anglers going after this feisty fish. Anglers mostly use baits, minnows and worms, but every now and then one is taken on a lure while fishing for other species.

Other Options: Stripers in massive Lake Powell will bite this time of year. These fish grow larger than the white bass they resemble. Crayfish are one of the main foods, so as one might expect, lures resembling crayfish work well.

RM Jul-SepAUGUST

Dearborn River Trout

This is one of the many magnificent trout waters coursing through Montana, and one of the lesser fished. Starting in the Scapegoat Wilderness, it makes its way 60 miles through some of the finest trout waters in the Rockies. The Dearborn finally joins up with the Missouri near Craig, Mont.

By later summer the fly-fishing has gotten well under way, with anglers fishing stonefly, caddis and mayfly imitations. The upper stretch has fast action for small to mid-size rainbows and cutthroats. Part of it flows through wilderness where anyone can fish, on public land, with a path along the river. All of it is a wonderful fishing experience, making one of those days that Montana fishing is famous for.

Other Options: Starvation Reservoir in Utah, contrary to the lake name, is a place where rainbows get plenty of food. Some are now growing to trophy size after being stocked only four years. Fat and 22 inches long, they are ready for the catching.

SEPTEMBER

Tongue River Trout

The Tongue River has the north fork and the south fork, and right now the North Fork is excellent fishing in the setting of the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming. Trout are wild and they are hungry this time of year as the get in condition for winter. The only drawback is their skittishness if water levels are low.

Part of the North Fork of the Tongue flows through a rugged canyon where only avid anglers and wild critters venture. As such, it is a wild and wonderful fishing experience for those disinclined to laziness. This is well past the usual fishing enthusiast time of summer, so trout anglers on the Tongue have a great river usually all to themselves. All of it looks like the place where a character from a Zane Grey novel could walk out of the purple sage at any time.

Other Options: The hybrid splake are commonly taken from Navajo Lake in southern Utah. Some of these brook trout/lake trout crosses weigh in at more than 5 pounds.

OCTOBER

Greys River Cutthroat

These are actually Snake River cutthroat in the Greys, but no matter because they are excellent in either place. This river flows south of Jackson, Wyo., with some of the best fishing in the Rockies. This is classic fly-fishing with a drift boat.

Even in October on warm afternoons there are still terrestrials floating down this river through the lair of these big trout. Floating hoppers are often explosive fly offerings. And as if all of that isn't enough, the scenery is stunning, with reds and yellows of October emblazoning the shore of this superb float.

By this time of year, most sportsmen are cleaning their big game rifles in preparation for hunting. Fishing pressure drops. Those on the river are delighted.

Other Options: Horseshoe Reservoir in Colorado holds tiger muskie, which are guaranteed to drive a certain percentage of anglers nuts. These big fish are meat eaters, and here as elsewhere their bite is unpredictable.

NOVEMBERRM Oct-Dec

Salt River Chain Walleyes

The November walleye fishing in Arizona can turn into a trophy hunt in the Salt River Chain of lakes. This is where some really big ones swim. Quite possibly more record-breaking walleyes are swimming here than anywhere in Arizona.

November is a good time to go after this coolwater fish. There is some shoreline fishing here, so these lakes are a good place for those who don't use a boat. This is getting into the definite southern range where walleyes can live. Even so, the Salt River Chain has good enough walleye habitat for natural reproduction of these fish, and it a favorite area of knowledgeable walleye anglers.

Other Options: The Red River near Questa, N.M., is home to the less common cuttbows (rainbow/cutthroat hybrids). Some of them grow to 25 inches. The hike to the river reduces angler competition here, and all of it is Rocky Mountain beautiful.

DECEMBER

Henrys Lake Hybrid Trout

This is one of the glamour fish of Idaho. The Henrys Lake hybrid is a cross between a Henrys Lake cutthroat trout and a rainbow trout. They are reputed to grow faster, larger and perhaps zestier than the run-of-the-mill trout. That may or may not be true, but it is known for absolute certainty that they put up a great fight on the end of a line. They inhabit Henrys Lake in great numbers. Some of these fish measure more than 30 inches and weigh 15 pounds.

About 200,000 of them are stocked each year in Henrys lake. Some of them at this very moment are awaiting an enticing morsel to cross their path, in which event they will try to devour it.

Other Options: Tailwater trout and walleye fishing is good, even in the cold a Wyoming winter. It's open water for trout. And below Boysen Reservoir there are walleyes.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

With the company's heavy involvement in initiatives like Kick the Plastic and Captains for Clean Water campaigns, Costa's Amanda Sabin tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead all about the sunglass maker's unwavering commitment to help the freshwater and saltwater environment.

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

Fresh off catching the biggest bass in ICAST Cup history, 13 Fishing pro Jessie Mizell shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the new Big Squirm soft plastic worm and the company's unique Pathfinder topwater walking bait that is totally weedless in design.

Mustad

Mustad's Saltwater Jig Lineup

Russ Whisler shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the innovative features and great color schemes in Mustad's voluminous lineup of saltwater jigs introduced at ICAST 2019.

Lowrance Enters Trolling-Motor Market with Ghost

Lowrance Enters Trolling-Motor Market with Ghost

Lowrance's Lucas Steward shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead what all of the fuss is about in the brand new Ghost trolling motor being brought to market by the Tulsa, Okla.-based fishing equipment manufacturer.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies can be profound, even when fishing the same lake or river. Fishing How-To

How to Catch Catfish Day and Night

Terry Madewell

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies...

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll find the Garden State's hottest bass fishing. Destinations

7 Best Bets for New Jersey Bass

J.B. Kasper - October 04, 2010

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll find the...

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? There's more to successful long-range Ammo

10 Best Long-Range Cartridges Ever Made

David Hart - January 14, 2015

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? There's more to successful long-range

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some great bass pond fishing. Bass

Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You

Dan Anderson

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some...

See More Trending Articles

More Other Freshwater

Bow fisherman arrows fish of a lifetime on South Texas trip. Other Freshwater

240 Pounds! Massive Alligator Gar Taken on Father's Day

Lynn Burkhead - June 22, 2020

Bow fisherman arrows fish of a lifetime on South Texas trip.

The new Oklahoma record measured 76 inches long and weighed 143 pounds. Records

Man-Sized Paddlefish Almost a World Record

Game & Fish Staff - May 28, 2020

The new Oklahoma record measured 76 inches long and weighed 143 pounds.

He was fishing for catfish when the Missouri record struck. Records

Angler Doesn't Miss 2nd Chance at State Record

G&F Online Staff - July 25, 2019

He was fishing for catfish when the Missouri record struck.

It may be the middle of the summer, but it's not too early to think about winter ice fishing. Other Freshwater

Augers to Tip-Ups: Best Ice Fishing Gear at ICAST

Drew Warden - August 01, 2019

It may be the middle of the summer, but it's not too early to think about winter ice fishing.

See More Other Freshwater

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now