What was I talking about last week when I mentioned spring? Well, it has turned cold again and snowed magnificently. The skiing was beginning to get scratchy. It was beginning to get to the time where one starts thinking about putting away the skis for the season and keeping the waders at the back door. The snow had melted quickly down valley. It was 60 degrees in Glenwood early in the week. The fishing on the Pan was excellent, with the water thick with midges. TJ and Merle were reporting great fishing from midday on. Then the snow gods turned it on and now there is snow everywhere. It was actually heavier skiing so I expect that we will have a lot of visitors down-valley with tired legs as soon as it warms a little. However, the fishing remains excellent. The midges haven't noticed the change in the weather yet.
We have had 1.5 feet of snow and as I write it is coming down again. The weatherman is calling for snow over the next day or so. These conditions will persist for a day or so.
Nick and Sean came back to visit us this week and caught some beautiful fish. They have kindly shared some photos and we have included 3 in this weeks report. These certainly will earn pride of place in our winter photo archives section.
As a side note, for those of you who might be contemplating coming out this year and renting the cabins, might we suggest that you do not wait too long to book. We are astounded at the rate at which the bookings are filling up. We already have July totally booked and September almost fully booked as well. If you want details click on the lodging link on the left. With the high water continuing throughout winter, and the good snow pack the bigger fish will be well rested this winter and not have suffered the usual privations of low water and anchor ice. We think this year will be better than ever.
Current Flow: below the Dam - 163cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
The warmer weather earlier in the week gave way to cold and snowy weather as the week progressed. The ground is now covered with a layer of snow. However, as soon as it warms it will melt off so it won't be around for long.
The reports during the week were of massive midge hatches beginning in the middle of the day and continuing through for some hours. TJ and Merle both had great reports. With the colder weather it would be expected that the midges would slow but not so far. The midges mid-river were quite large - #16 - #18.
Sean Stepanoff of Arvarda and his buddy Nick DeBruyne of Portland Oregon came back to visit us and caught some beautiful fish. Sean advises that they were using a green baetis flashback with a black midge dropper. The sizes were #24 - #26. The photos speak for themselves.Today there was a patch of blue sky at about midday so I took leave of my senses and went out onto the river. It was a trap laid well by the snow gods. There were only a few fish moving under the surface. But fishing to them with an emerger and a biot emerger dropper attracted their interest and succeeded in getting a few. Then by 1.30 the fish were quite active starting to pop all over the place taking midge emergers. I caught a few at the beginning of the rise and then the snow blew in!! It was bitterly cold with the wind keeping the snow horizontal. I called it quits when I was having to take the ice off the guides every 3 or 4 casts. Its a good thing I took out my shorter rod so it was easier to reach the end to clean the ice. I should have known better. My dog refused to leave the house electing to stay on his bed giving me that look as I left. Still the fish were feeding and it was good for the time I stayed out.
Recommended Flies: The water is very clear and remains well above its usual winter flow so the fish are still more spread out than usual. It is getting easier to access the river as the warmer temperatures melt the ice on some of the accesses. The snow of the last few days has settled quickly and won't freeze like the mid-winter falls. Make sure you are using light tippet – 7x. Generally fish down deep as the fish generally remain close to the bottom. However, there is midge activity when the sun warms things a little. The sun is beginning to get noticeably higher touching the water in more areas. This opens up the Pan a little more to good midge hatches. Spot the fish feeding as they will not move far laterally to take midges. Try midge larva and pupa before the hatch starts. When the fish begin to feed under the surface, try small emergers; olive biot emergers, size #18 - #22 and black special emergers #18 - #22. Small copper johns are working well. On the surface, use midge dries with emergers in the film as a dropper. Also try Griffiths gnats #18 - #24. Egg patterns will also work well particularly as an attracter with a midge. Be prepared to vary the color of the egg a little if it is not getting results. The rainbows will be starting to move onto the redds now so take care to avoid them. As spring approaches the baetis nymphs will start to move about in the water so be ready with very small nymph patterns. If it is quiet it is worth trying them down deep near the bottom.
The colder weather of the past few days will slow the melt that was occurring but at the same time it is adding to the snow pack. We have had over 1.5 ft of additional snow in the past few days. This will melt quickly lower down when the weather warms up. The water will rise accordingly, so note the temperature. Ed advises that the fishing is excellent lower down with midges and stoneflies. Harry has been having success a little higher up with a combination of larger stoneflies and a caddis pupa. It is still important to fish as close to the bottom as possible. So weight the fly so that it catches on the bottom as it drifts along. Thats how your know that you are deep enough. Try patterns such as mercer's poxyback stone, the roaring fork stone and the 20 incher. A large prince will also work. Use the different sized patterns as the nymphs are growing and therefore they appear in a range of sizes. Also try larger midges. Merle and Ed have both been succeeding with midges in the #16 - #18 range.
Recommended Flies: Above Carbondale use the same flies as the Pan (See our report for the Frying Pan). Generally try midge patterns larva, pupa and emerger patterns. For variety try very small baetis nymph patterns. Stone flies #16 - #10 - try mercers poxy-back, roaring fork stone, 20 incher. Cased caddis patterns will work deep as well. Black and olive beadhead streamers are also working. Also egg patterns.
The water has darkened up with the melt having started in the past 2 weeks. As the Colorado is lower down, it will be coloring up quickly as the lower lying snow pack melts. This latest snow will not hold at lower altitudes and will melt off quickly. Try midges, and 20 inchers. Also try any nymphs #20 and smaller. If you are down that way and are dissappointed with the water, come to mid-valley where the Fork and Pan will offer you the best conditions for fishing.
Recommended Flies: midges, both dries and emergers; pheasant tails #16, 18; BWO's #18,20; small copper johns; 20 inchers size #10 - #14; bead head prince nymph red #12 - 16; egg patterns #10 - #18; streamers #6 and #8 and smaller.