Yampa River, Steamboat Springs, CO


Active Member
Just spent 5 days fishing various portions of the Yampa river near and within Steamboat Springs, CO. It's a beautiful river flowing through town, loaded with nice fish. Flows at this time of year are about 120 cfs in town, less at the tail water portion. All angling is on foot, with a significant algae presence on rocks (and subsequently your nymphs/streamers) which becomes mildly frustrating in the slower sections. Access is limited to public sections between private properties, with the stretch through town entirely public.

Starting at Stagecoach Reservoir, the public section of tail water fishing is very much like a spring creek. Lots of angling pressure, presenting small flies to boldly visible fish. We were very successful nymphing small midges and hitting rising fish with #20 BWO emergers. I even tricked a few defiant shore huggers with a #16 beetle pattern. Good technical fishing with many fish rejecting the fly within an inch of sipping once your tippet provides the slightest change in drift.

Sarvice Creek wildlife area, a public area downstream from the tail water section, also produced nice fish, hitting nymphs, dries and streamers. Much to my chagrin, the river is too slow, shallow and scummy for sinking lines and light streamers, but the fish hit hard on traditional zonkers and slump busters with a floating line.

Fishing in town is also a lot of fun. A bike trail runs the entire length of the river for access. There are several great holes located near the patios of restaurants allowing for commentary from the drinking patrons while you fish. It's the first time I've ever fished with an audience, but they're good for the ego when you're doing well.

I paid for a half day on private water which provided nice holes with large fish, but honestly fishing at the tail water and in town would have been just fine. If you're ever in the area, the city and fishing are definitely worthwhile...and make sure you hit Riggios Ristorante for dinner, some of the best Italian food I've ever enjoyed.


mike doughty

Honorary Member
the yampa is a sweet little river. i fished it on my way to visit my kids. fished it well below steamboat and caught pike and bass and then fished it in town for trout.