After a week of cold, wet and snowy weather from mid Saturday through Sunday the days have been clear and beautiful. Though still a little cold in the shade, it is nice and warm in the sun. It is noticeable now that the sun is getting lower as by mid-afternoon where the Frying Pan Valley narrows, the sun drops behind the mountains casting a cold shadow over the river. There was a lot of fishing activity this weekend as the fishermen try and catch their last trips to the mountains before winter. In addition a lot of hunters are about so it is prudent to take care if one is going to venture higher up the Pan above Ruedi reservoir.
The fishing has been excellent this week with very strong BWO hatches from midday through the afternoon. There are still a few PMD's about on the warmer days but that won't last much longer.
The forecast for the coming week is for clearer weather with some cloud cover. The fishing should therefore be excellent again affording excellent BWO hatches if it is not too bright. In addition if cloud gathers and remains overnight that will keep the temperatures a little warmer.
Some of the best fishing of the year is to be had now. The fish are healthy and strong. The browns are beginning to stack up for the breeding season so take care and watch out if you are near any redds. It is a lovely sight standing in the river when suddenly a large torpedo explodes out of the water into the air and splashes back. The leaves have mostly gone and the river is relatively clear of debris. The winds of last week brought down a few trees and branches along the river. More wind is anticipated so there will be a few more timber falls.
Although this weekend was busy, mid-week is now very quiet with few fishermen on the water. Given that the weather forecast is good, it would be a perfect time to make one last run up to the mountains and catch some great fishing if one has a mind to do so.
Current Flow: below the Dam - 116cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
There was some excellent BWO dry fly fishing this week. The cold weather meant that it was better to start fishing a little later and then fish as long as one could manage in the cold. When the fish were not rising they were taking small baetis nymph patterns such as pheasant tails and midge pupa and emergers such as the chironocones #16 - #18. When they were on the surface the fish took a range of BWO patterns. The the dominant characteristics of the best patterns were small flies with dark olive bodies. #20 and #22 worked best. The matthews sparkle baetis olive was excellent as was the snowshoe dun. However the fish did respond to other BWO patterns as well such as the extended body parachute BWO and the beadtail emerger. It was a classic case of getting into the correct position relative to the fish to offer the best presentation and then taking the time to find out which fly they would take.
The coming week promises some more great fishing if the forecast of cloudy weather is correct. Be prepared to spend time on the river 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 lower flows have confined the fish a little more as they are disturbed by easier wading conditions. The fish are still wary of bad presentation so spend the time to choose the correct patterns and concentrate on excellent presentation. In addition in the shallow water they are very spooky so take time to walk quietly and fish a little distance from yourself to get to the rising fish. The cold and changeable weather is making it essential to take care in dressing for your day out. Don't take any chances. One thing is for certain now, at some time during the day it will be cold.
Nice 16 incher taken on a matthews sparkle baetis
Recommended Flies: With the flows in the Pan now at 116cfs the river is very accessible and the fish are a little spooky in the shallower water. However with the predicted cloudy weather for the next few days, the fishing should be excellent with the BWO's continuing to hatch from midday on. 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. Watch carefully and discern whether the fish are taking emergers or dries. If you don't take care and switch to a dry pattern too early can cause you to miss good opportunities. Start out with midges then BWO's as they come off. Then by evening the fish will be back to midges if they are still feeding. It promises to be a long day so consider starting to fish later in the day so you can fish into the evening. If it starts to rain, keep fishing. And more than ever be well dressed as a bright day can turn cold and uncomfortable very quickly with cloud cover and a little rain.
The rain and snow during the week pushed up the flows in the Fork such that it colored up a little mid-week for a little while. But it cleared quickly so that now the color is excellent. The current flow is a little below last week although it did jump mid-week above 560cfs.
The number of rising fish is very small and more the exception than the rule. It is best to nymph down deep and keep experimenting with weights if the fish are not responding and you are certain you are using the correct fly. The fish are taking a range of flies from BWO and PMD nymphs and emergers, midges, streamers, and the ever reliable combination of princes and san juan worms. Some fishermen are reporting success with eggs patterns as well. Small bwo nymphs and emergers continue to work well. The smaller the better. With the current 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.
Recommended Flies: Above Carbondale use the same flies as the Pan as well and streamers worms, princes and egg patterns. (See our report for the Frying Pan). Generally try midges and BWO's. Try nymphs until the fish are moving under the surface then try emergers. The fish are not feeding much on the surface so the expectation is that one will be nymphing most of the time. In fact even when the fish are near the surface greater success is to be had with nymphs and emergers fished lower in the water.
The Colorado has cleared again since the rain and snow earlier in the week. There continues to be good fishing with similar patterns to the Fork only a little larger.
Recommended Flies: PMD's #16, #18, baetis #18,20 and midges, both dries and emergers; 20 inchers size #10 - #14; streamers #6 and #8 and smaller and try egg patterns.