Man reels in uncommon fish at northwest Colorado reservoir

Tom Skulski
Steamboat Pilot & Today
Steamboat Springs resident Scott Lewer pulled in a brown trout on May 25, 2023, at Stagecoach Reservoir. With 40-plus years of fishing experience, he said reeling in a brown trout at Stagecoach is rare.
Scott Lewer/Courtesy photo

Scott Lewer has been fishing in Routt County for more than 40 years. The Steamboat Springs resident went out fishing at Stagecoach Reservoir on May 25 and caught a fish that is not commonly reeled in around Steamboat. 

Lewer, a former president of Yampa Valley Fly Fishers, won a morning battle against a brown trout. It was Lewer’s first brown trout of the season, and in his experience, catching these fish in Stagecoach is pretty rare. 

“You don’t catch a brown but a couple times per year,” Lewer said. “You have to fish pretty consistently, and the Yampa is kind of similar.”

Having already reeled in 14 fish, the brown trout was the last catch of the day for Lewer, who had only caught rainbow trout to that point. 

That morning, Lewer and his girlfriend rented a 15-foot Boston Whaler from Stagecoach Marina and were on their way. 

“We got on the water about 8:30 a.m. and fished until 12:30 p.m. and caught as many fish as we could count,” Lewer said. “It was a beautiful, picturesque morning. Honestly, if we did not catch a fish it would have been a success because it was glassy and gorgeous.”

According to Lewer, brown trout and rainbow trout have very different behavior once hooked. 

A brown’s instinct is to go down deep into the water and fight a line from there. Rainbows come to the surface and jump around as high as they can from the top.

Steamboat Springs angler Scott Lewer enjoying a day on Stagecoach Reservoir on May 25, 2023. He caught 15 fish that morning including one rare brown trout.
Scott Lewer/Courtesy photo

From the moment he felt the bite of his 15th catch, Lewer could tell it was not the same type of fish he had just caught 14 times over.

“They start rising when it gets a little warmer,” Lewer said. “It was about noon. I fought it for like 15 minutes and thought we might be late with the boat. Luckily, he came in, I netted him and fish still have a little game in them when you get them in the net. He flipped out of the net and into the boat and he and I had a little wrestling match.”

Lewer caught the fish using a size 20 purple mayfly. He said it was no bigger than his fingernail but certainly got the job done.

He estimated the fish to be around 25 inches long and got him back in the water right away. Lewer said the fish swam away very healthy. 

While so many gather in Stagecoach to catch rainbow trout, Lewer said it can be fun to branch out and get something new. A pike spooled him earlier that day, but bringing in a brown trout was an even better prize. 

“Fishing is not a catching thing; it is a fishing thing,” Lewer said. “If you are catching things, then you are doing really well.”

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