Spring has finally arrived in Steamboat.  I’ve seen friends’ pictures of Spring across America with green grass, crocus and daffodils, and even cherry blossoms.  None of them had pictures of 3 feet of snow in the front yard.  Today, I finally saw the first patches of dirt appear in my front yard where I hope to plant tulips in the next few days.

Watching the river melt gradually each day has had me excited about fishing.  Over the Winter, I bought a new fly fishing setup and waders.  I’ve been stoked to get them out and see if I’ve learned anything about trout fishing over the Winter.  After watching YouTube videos from Orvis and epic trips by folks with vans, backpacks, or too much ambition to chase trout in beautiful places, I’m ready to fish.

Over the past week, the river has opened up gradually and the USGS water gauge has started to move.  This gauge I’ve watched for a few weeks waiting to see it did not say the river was frozen.  I didn’t expect it to take a sudden rise.  In the past few years, the river raised gradually, keeping the water just a little hazy.  Today, the water is quite murky.  The above picture is of a tributary of the Yampa River.  It is Dry Creek and is 4 feet above its normal flow.

I saw this change to a murky start a couple of days ago and just denied that it was happening.  Today, I caught a good glimpse at Burgess Creek and it was quite muddy.  It is moving dirt that is not only in the snow but sediment that has accumulated from the drainage that happened slowly over the Winter.  Every tributary of the Yampa River was doing the same thing.  The Elk River was not as murky, yet still wasn’t worth a cast.

In past Spring runoff seasons, I have seen clarity occur in the river’s water for a week or so.  It commonly happens when most of the lower-elevation snow has melted and temperatures remain cooler.  This weekend things are going to cool off, but there is still a ton of snow on the ground.

So after this short break in the thaw, snow melts consistently uphill.  This brings more sediment and doesn’t stop being murky until the majority of it has melted.  For this year, after having so much snow, the melt-off is expected to last into later June.  For me, that’s another two months of waiting to cast a line off my raft.  Bummer.

What’s my plan?

I guess I’m going to have to go on fishing trips.  Not all of the territory near me has received as much snow as the Steamboat area, which makes a drive of up to a couple of hours valuable.  Also, I’ve had a few ponds on my mind to fish.  There is one in Steamboat I’ve never fished.  And there are a few in the Hayden and Craig areas that should remain mostly clear.  I won’t really get to use my new waders until Summertime, but that’s alright.  I understand that the water temperature will work in the fisherman’s favor going from cold to cool to warm over time.  That is instead of going from cold to warm, which stresses out the fish.

As an aside, this morning I had to be driving early in the morning before the Sun was up.  I was able to catch a view of the Yampa River, about a half-mile stretch, with the moon above it.  That view was beautiful!  The only colors were that of night and the moon’s reflection off the river.  It’s moments like that cause me to pause and reflect on how lucky we are to be next to a beautiful river.