Summer at Stagecoach

Park offers variety of recreational activities

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— Byers Fleming of Denver has been fly fishing on the Colorado River, South Platte and many other places, but never the Yampa -- until Saturday.

In waders, standing in the river a few hundred yards down from the Stagecoach Reservoir dam, he bobbed his fly in and out of the water, and quickly a fish was on.

He reeled it in and netted it, discovering a rainbow trout.

"It's a beautiful fish, isn't it?" he asked. "Very pretty colors."

His fishing buddy, Joe Rubio, also from Denver, fished a few feet away.

"I love fishing, because of the challenge more than anything," Rubio said. "And what a beautiful place to do it. It's usually good fishing here."

But fishing is just one of the many opportunities available at scenic Stagecoach State Park. As the snow melts and summer is on the horizon, more and more of those opportunities are opening up each day.

While fishing is a year-round option, even when the reservoir is frozen 3 feet deep, summer allows visitors to camp, hike, bike, swim, water ski, sail, windsurf, canoe, kayak and picnic on the 860 acres of park space.

The last ice melted off the 780-acre reservoir April 19, opening it to boating and other water activities.

While touring the park, visitors can view the Flat Tops Wilderness Area to the south and the towering Blacktail Mountain to the west, which boast some large elk herds, Park Ranger Mike Wall said.

In late winter, park rangers worked to clean and groom the hiking trails.

Thanks to recent improvements to camping areas, Wall expects more people to visit the park this year.

"Last summer, electrical hookups were installed on some campsites, and a lot of people have said they liked that," Wall said. "This is a family-oriented park, and it seems that many of them like to have the luxuries of home."

The park features a sandy beach with a volleyball area, which has been improved with added sand and retaining walls.

But make no mistake, fishing is the biggest draw to Stagecoach State Park.

"Fishing is what brought me here," Wall said. "The fishing is just awesome -- the big fish."

In Wall's office, framed pictures of the "big" fish line the walls.

The fishermen and women flex their biceps to hold up the monstrous pike, which must weigh 20 pounds or more to make it on the wall of fame.

An unofficial state record was set recently for the largest pike ever caught, but because the fish wasn't weighed on an official scale, Stagecoach can't stake its claim in the record books.

Still, Wall has the pictures to prove it.

For $5 per day per vehicle, visitors can do it all and then stay overnight at a campsite for $7 to $18, depending on how important electricity is.

Year-round passes cost $50. Pontoon boats, kayaks and canoes also are available for rent.

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