Trappers Lake Trip 8-14-16, 2009
A trip to Trappers Lake is a must for any fly fishing enthusiast. Trappers Lake is located about 50 miles East of Meeker bordering the Flat Tops Wilderness Area in the White River National Forest. Trappers Lake is about a five hour drive from Denver. The area suffered a devastating fire in 2002. The Big Fish Fire burned over 17,000 acres. The landscape is recovering; however, it will be a number of years before the recovery will be complete. Lost in the fire was the historic Trappers Lake Lodge. A new lodge has been rebuilt since the fire. The lodge is kid and pet friendly. The lodge offers a number of “rustic” cabins for rent. Shower facilities, laundry facilities, horse rental, boat rental, a full service dining room and a full service bar are all amenities offered by the Lodge.
Why go? Native Colorado River Cutthroat Trout.
The Lake: Trappers Lake is Colorado’s second largest natural lake. Trappers Lake can be fished from shore, in a float tube or in a non-motorized boat. Rowboats and canoes can be rented from Trappers Lake Lodge. The rowboat for the two days that I fished the lake ran $45/day. Motors are prohibited on the lake and there is some work in involved to get to the lake. You will hike in with any gear you may need for your day on the water, including oars and life jackets. Find the right balance between having just the right amount of gear, and dragging in too much.
From Trappers Lake Lodge a short drive to the trailhead gets you a little closer to the lake. From the trailhead a short uphill walk of about 10 minutes will put you at the far North end of the lake. The lake sits nestled in a beautiful valley. The valley still shows the scars of the Big Fish Fire from 2002. A few trees survived the fire but most of the trees that are still standing are dead. The dead trees look like toothpicks waiting to be toppled by a strong wind. Signs of recovery are definitely evident though, as wild flowers and ground vegetation now color the valley. I found that the lake fishing was best early in the morning and in the evening. The wind can be quite powerful. I was blown off the lake by mid morning on both of the days I fished the lake from the rowboat. The fishing in the evenings proved to be best once the wind had calmed down. I landed numerous Colorado River Cutts up to 16”. The fish in the lake ate a variety of bugs ranging from Gold Ribbed Hares Ears to Wooly Buggers to small midges.
During the middle of the day, I spent my time on the creek that runs right along the Trappers Lake Lodge property. The small creek has brook trout ranging from 4”-11”. The big surprise was the Colorado River Cutts in the creek. I landed Cutts from 5” to 16”. All of the fish came up to a variety of dry flies. A size 18 parachute Adams out fished all other dry flies combined.
When I wasn’t fishing I spent time back in and around the cabin. Relaxing and hanging out with my family. It was great to have the family along on this trip. My kids had a blast playing around the property. There were a number of families with children. Aside from catching a 15” Cutthroat, the highlight of the trip for my son was getting to ride Molly the Mule. My daughter Jessica on the other hand, would have nothing to do with Molly. Maybe next year she will warm up to Molly.
Looking back on my first trip to Trappers Lake, the fishing was excellent, the food in the lodge was good and the cabin was…. well, it was really rustic. All in all a trip to Trappers Lake is well worth the 5 hour drive from the Front Range. Next time back I will plan my time on the water to better deal with the wind.
Pro Staff Guide & Instructor- Angling University