This past week has seen some glorious weather. The colors are vivid and with the contrast of the snow up high and the clear autumn sky it has to be as good as it gets. In the warm evenings the bug activity was exceptional after that cold spell. The midges and PMD's in particular were prolific until the sun dropped behind the mountains and the temperature fell.
Following the snow on the mountains, the flow in the Fork has picked up and is currently running at 483cfs. The weather forecast is calling for more wet weather over the next few days although the temperatures are not predicted to drop as low as they did last week. However, the additional rains will ensure that the Fork continues to run higher for a little longer. The increased flow is quite clean and the water quality is good all the way to Glenwood and the Colorado. Compared to last year the Pan is currently running about 30cfs higher while the Fork is currently running only marginally lower.
There was some active wildlife in the area this week. Friday's newspapers carried two stories. One concerned 3 grizzly bears which were reported to have been seen on the other side of Independence Pass. The report was of a mother with 2 cubs. Although there have been no confirmed sightings of grizzly bears in Colorado in the last 25 years, the DOW is taking the report seriously given the credibility of the witnesses.
And on the same day there was a report in the Aspen Daily News of a fishing guide having to row his boat around a moose standing in the middle of the Roaring Fork River at about 2pm on Thursday. A moose re-introduction program is underway in the Grand Mesa area and currently the DOW estimates there are 65 animals there out of the states estimated 1,100 population.
So we can safely say that the area is still attracting its share of visitors at the moment.
Current Flow: below the Dam - 221cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
The warmer weather and clear skies were a mixed blessing as the fish stayed lower in the bright light and concentrated their surface feeding to the shaded areas. The drakes have finished for all intents and purposes. The bwo's and midges are the primary hatches now with PMD's still coming off during the day. There are a few caddis about on the warmer evenings but they are intermittent as well. The leaves are beginning to fall into the water as the wind picks up and so expect a little debris in the water as you fish.
Be prepared to spend time on the rive and dress well. There will be dull periods during the day but provided your presentation is good and the fly selection correct, there will be success. The pressure on the Pan has dropped off substantially giving ample opportunity now to get onto the river and enjoy some excellent fishing particularly when the weather turns nasty. Although the fishing pressure has abated somewhat, the fish are still wary of bad presentation so spend the time to choose the correct patterns and concentrate on excellent presentation. The larger the fly the easier it is for the fish to inspect closely and decide that it is not the real thing so try smaller flies if the fish you are stalking is being difficult. The cold and changeable weather is making it essential to take care in dressing for your day out. Don't take any chances so don't make any assumptions with a bright clear blue sky in the morning. With the predicted change this week come prepared for cold wet weather and long stays of the river as the bwos come off.
Recommended Flies: With the water level at 221cfs, the level is excellent for the fish and fine to wade. There is a consistent midge hatch mid-morning and late in the afternoon into the evening. However since the extremely cold weather last week, the activity in the morning is very low key and it is better to wait until late morning and into the afternoon. The PMD's are continuing to hatch but becoming less prolific. BWO's are also coming off in the afternoons particularly when it is cloudy and overcast. The fish remain particular as they feed but as the options narrow the flies are getting smaller. So if one pattern is not working don't waste too much time. Instead change and try something else and keep changing until you can discern what they are taking. Of course if your presentation is suspect, it doesn't matter what you are using. The fish are now noticeably more selective and will only take particular colors and/or sizes. In the midst of a strong hatch there is no reason they will take your fly out of the hundreds on the water if they are all identical. So consider putting on something just a little larger or smaller or a slightly different color which may catch the fish's eye.
If you are fishing to rising fish, don't fish too shallow too quickly. Even if you think the fish are feeding just under or on the surface, persist with keeping the fly lower until there is no question that they are on dries. Switching to a dry pattern too early can cause you to miss good opportunities. Depending on the time you start out first use nymphs then move to emergers, cripples and then dries and spinner to finish off in the evenings. It promises to be a long day so consider starting to fish later in the day so you can fish well into the evening. If it starts to rain, keep fishing. And more than ever be well dressed as a bright hot day can turn cold and uncomfortable very quickly with cloud cover and a little rain.
Although we had no rain or snow during the week, the previous falls at the end of last week created a snow pack which melted a little during the latest warm weather causing the flow to pick up in the Fork. However the color was excellent and the higher flow did nothing to effect that. In the bright light the fish tended to stay in the deeper water. The best approach was to nymph deep down with small flies and plenty of weight. Streamers worked well, but nymphing paid the best dividends.
The number of rising fish is very small and more the exception than the rule. So try a dry top fly with a nymph or two as droppers. But it is best to nymph down deep and keep experimenting with weights if the fish are not responding and you are certain you have the correct fly on. The fish are taking a range of flies from BWO and PMD emergers, to caddis, streamers, and the ever reliable combination of princes and san juan worms. This week the greatest success was on small bwo nymphs and emergers. The smaller the better.
With the increased flow, it is possible to raft from Basalt if you want to put in the work in the shallower sections. However most of the float traffic now is below Carbondale. Another thing to note below Carbondale is the greater incidence of slime on the bottom. Fishing deep therefore has the disadvantage of forcing one to clean off the flies more regularly than one would like. However it is necessary to get down deep to get to the fish so it is the price one has to pay.
The Colorado cleared again in the warmer dry weather and resulted in good fishing. When it is fishing well it is one of Ed's favorite destinations because of the size of the fish and the fact that they are less wary. At the moment with the clearing water each day there are several bwo hatches followed by a PMD hatch.
Recommended Flies: PMD's #14, #16, baetis #18,20 both nymphs and emergers; 20 inchers size #10 - #14; streamers #6 and #8 and smaller