Post By: MooseDancer Posted: 8/19/2019 6:09:16 AMPoints: 639
Thursday (8/15/19) and Sunday (8/18/19) evenings I've hit Brainard Lake after dark fly-fishing. The action has been GREAT for some nice Brook Trout. I've been throwing flies after dark from shore. Many of the larger fish I've been catching in very shallow water less than 30 feet from shore. BUT keep a eye out! Thursday (8/15/19) while fly-fishing I had a bear come down and join me in the fun! I'm use to moose coming down after dark while I'm fly-fishing, but this was the first for a bear to check me out. The Brookies have been running 8 to 13 inches and Thursday (8/15/19) evening I caught a very nice 15" Emerald Lake Rainbow.
What is a "Emerald Lake Rainbow?"
Emerald Lake is 248 feet deep with 280 surface acres and 12.0 miles of shoreline. The lake is the third largest natural lake in Colorado and only accessible by a 8 mile trail by foot and horseback. This is one of the few self-sustaining rainbow populations found in Colorado. The unique Cutthroat Rainbow Trout hybrid exists ONLY in this lake and a few other areas CPW introduced them.
This unique hybrid was stocked many years ago in Long Lake. But many people including CPW didn't believe this unique Rainbow survived. A few did survive and now we have a small but self-sustaining population that moves between Long and Brainard Lake in the South St Vrain River.
If you catch one of these hybrid Rainbows in this area, PLEASE return it back safely so this fish can continue to survive. I've caught the Emerald Lake Rainbow up to 24" in this area! But they're still VERY rare to catch in Brainard and Long Lakes.
Reply by: MOJO Posted: Aug. 19, 11:45:21 AM Points: 417
Thanks for the info and great pix. The rainbows and Splake stocked a bit S in Lefthand Res did not survive the drawdowns over the years. It's nice to know these guys have enough depth to survive the Winters.
Reply by: MooseDancer Posted: Aug. 19, 5:04:24 PM Points: 639
Hello MOJO.......I'm very familiar with Lefthand Reservoir. Lefthand has issues with the tannic acid in the water from it being an old peat moss bog. That's why the discoloration of the water in the reservoir. When the water level is drawn down and freezes over in the winter the oxygen levels drop very rapidly causing winter kill. Back in the 1960's and early 1970's Lefthand Reservoir had very nice Rainbow Trout fishery that averaged 2 to 4 lbs. But had a major winter kill in the early 1970's. Even though CPW (DOW back than) made efforts to reestablish the Rainbow Trout all efforts failed.
Long Lake is a natural lake and Brainard Lake (man made) have the South St. Vrain River running running through them with good water flow all winter long. That helps to prevent winter kill. CPW poisoned Long Lake to clear out the brook trout to stock the Emerald Lake Rainbow. But for what ever reasons they didn't establish themselves as they thought they would. CPW assumed the Emerald Lake Rainbow were gone from that system.
CPW had stopped stocking Rainbow in Brainard leaving it to be a self sustaining Brook Trout fishery. In the early 2000's I caught a few very nice Rainbow running from 21 to 24 inches out of Brainard Lake. Being a Fisheries Biologist (now retired) I knew these rainbow were not stocked fish and assuming they must be from earlier spawning from the Emerald Lake Rainbow. Since that time I've caught several smaller Rainbows that obliviously were not "stockers." So this is why I believe there is a small population of Emerald Lake Rainbows still existing in this system.
Reply by: Tubejig Posted: Aug. 20, 2:51:37 PM Points: 434
Nice fish for sure. But for petes sake why would you expose a small body of water on a major fishing site for all to see? I seriously don't get it. There are responsible fisherman who would respect the species implied here, but this state is only getting more populated.
Reply by: MooseDancer Posted: Aug. 28, 10:18:52 AM Points: 639
Tubejig .......I don't have to expose this lake since over 10,000 people visit this area every week. Most people use this area to hike, camp and do wildlife photography. It can often be a very difficult lake to catch fish in so not many people will fish Brainard Lake. This area is home to me. Being a retired Biologist, Colorado Native and Fly-fishing this lake for over 60 years, I know it can handle a few more fisherman. It has self substaning population of Brook Trout that could use a little thinning out which may help the fishery.
Fished ledthand last nite and seen a black bear running on the other side. Did catch some nice brookies out of there. Myself would rather have the brookies in there than rainbows. Rainbows are overated and stocked in too many places as is. I do like the secret lake up there with the fatty cutthroats in it. Som fish from that area.