This past week has been quite warm and the melt has started again. Whereas a week ago, the recent snow still lay on the ground, as of yesterday the snow in the direct sun has all gone. I say yesterday because a new storm has just blown in with light snow blowing around. The wind has also picked up. Today was typical changeable mountain weather, snow and wind one minute, blue skies the next then more snow and a bitterly cold wind finished off the day.
The skiing up high remains excellent but it is beginning to get hard on the legs consequentially we are seeing more fishermen down valley. We have seem more fishermen out this week than we have seen for months. Cars were parked at pull-offs on Highway 82 where none had been seen since autumn. This coming week will be interesting because the weather forecast is a little patchy. After a little snow today it will clear for several days until Wednesday when the forecast is for further snow. Thereafter for the next five days it is predicted to be alternatively cloud and clear then rain or snow. Down valley, it is more likely to rain given that the predicted temperatures are in the high 40's to 50's on some days.
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 - 160cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
The fishing remains strong on the Pan with Merle and TJ having good days out up towards the dam. Merle prefers to fish dry and enjoyed some good hatches.
On Tuesday went out fishing for an hour. The fish were not feeding very heavily, they took emergers sporadically then it got colder and they moved lower in the water. A good example of the importance of getting the fly down to the fish occurred when I saw one large fish feeding in a deeper pool about 2ft below the surface. I was still fishing the emerger dry with a #20 black pheasant tail dropper. The fish wasn't interested but was obviously feeding. So I put a small shot between the emerger and the nymph. Just enough to pull the fly down under the water to the depth of the fish. Immediately the brown grabbed the emerger when it drifted right to him.
On Wednesday, about midday there was a light rise happening with a few midges on the surface. I tried a range of flies to see what worked apart from the obvious emergers. The fish took a black pheasant tail #20 and a green bead head larva. Even though there were adult midges on the surface, the fish were not interested in adult patterns. We received a delivery of some new stock in the shop so I took out a rod to try it in the afternoon. It is a Sirrus 8ft #4 by Hardy. It was mid afternoon. I put on a green bead head pupa pattern behind an emerger fished dry more as an indicator than anything else. It was snowing a little and nothing was moving but the fish were visible just above the bottom. I said to Art I don't know if it was the rod or the fly, but the fish went nuts. I guessed I was averaging a take every 3 casts. I was fishing with 3ft of 8X tippet between both flies to get the pupa just above the bottom. Apart from great fishing, the rod performed beautifully which was the point of the exercise in the first place.
On Saturday the fish were a little deeper in the water. There were a lot of tails breaking the water but the fish were actually feeding 1 – 2 feet under the surface. A bead head green bodied pupa pattern worked well after the fish generally refused the emergers higher up. Several fish took the dry emerger pattern which served principally as a strike indicator. By 3 pm all activity had ceased and the fish were very slow in responding.On Sunday it started off snowing and very windy. By mid morning the snow had ceased but the wind got stronger. I didn't see a single fish move on the surface. They were keeping low in the more protected water. The barometer was falling which generally slows the fish down until it steadies. It had dropped from 29.93in at 6 am. to 28.89in by 1 pm. But they did take a gray grub #22, a copper john #20 and a olive bodied beadhead midge pupa #18.
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 next 10 days promises an inconsistent variety of weather. So if you are coming up, plan for winter garb but don't be surprised if you have to take much of it off mid-morning. Make sure you are using light tippet – 7x. Generally fish down deep as the fish generally remain close to the bottom. However, there is now a consistent hatch between mid-morning and mid afternoon. The magnitude of the hatch is variable with the weather but don't be surprised to experience an unexpectedly good hatch even if some bad weather blows in. 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. 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. 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. The baetis nymphs are starting 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. I have been deliberately fishing them just to see the results and so far the fish have been responding, but sparingly.
The fishing in the Fork has been particularly good with both small and larger stone flies and midges. The stone flies have started their molt and the fish are taking the opportunity to feed on them as they tumble through the water. Some of the guides prefer patterns on curved hooks, because that more closely approximates the insect as it washes through the shallows and is tumbled about. Ed says that the fishing is excellent lower down with midges and stoneflies. Merle continues to have success mid-river around Basalt with stoneflies of all sizes. The key is to fish as close to the bottom as possible. So weight the fly so that it catches on the bottom. Then you will 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. With the change coming in yesterday, Merle said his best success was with an egg pattern with a biot emerger dropper fished right on the bottom. Ed had a similar report.
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 warmer weather and the work on Shoshone have contributed to make the Colorado unfishable at the moment. Ed is disappointed because the colder weather had held back the color enough to give him some good fishing. It was great fishing last year as the cold postponed the run-off. Unfortunately this year we miss out. If you are down that way and are disappointed with the water, come to mid-valley where the Fork and Pan will offer you the best conditions for fishing. If you want to try a fish it try midges, and 20 inchers. Also try any nymphs #20 and smaller.
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.