The weather of the past 10 days would almost indicate that Spring is here. It has been beautiful. One day last week saw a little snow overnight but the warm days put paid to that down valley. In fact it has been so warm that the river has tended to color up with a little run-off. The level in the Fork has begin to pick up over the last week evidencing the increased flow beginning to affect the level. The Pan continues to flow high maintaining excellent winter fishing conditions and protecting the fish for spring. In fact, the Pan flow has picked up a fraction as the various tributaries begin to carry a little more water. On several days last week the melting snow in the Seven Castles creek area colored up the water running into the Pan but not enough to have any discernible effect. The clear skies mean that overnight it gets cold enough to freeze everything so it takes a while for the melt to start again next morning. The fishing reports have been excellent and more people are out on the river. The skiing is beginning to get patchy so we expect that as the week progresses tired legs will give way to the desire to stand in the river with a rod in hand. As the weather begins to warms and the snow melts one gets more impatient for that first hopper, but that still a way off. The baetis and other nymphs will start moving about now so although midges will still be the principal fly the warming days bring a little more variety to the fishing.
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 only have a few days left in July and September. 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 and the harder skiing has brought more fishermen out onto the Pan. Driving in to Basalt yesterday I saw more fishermen all the way into town than I have seen in 3 months. The flow has picked up a little to 163cfs as the melt starts and the various tributaries feed a little more water into the Pan. Seven Castles creek was depositing some color in during the afternoon on 2 days last week but it dissipated quickly in the Pan itself and therefore was not noticeable. Generally the fish are tending to remain low in the water making deep midges and very small black nymph patterns the most productive.
Today the weather was beautiful. I ventured out to find a good midge hatch mid-river. The midges were large, size 16 and 18. The fish began rising consistently after about 1pm. They took a range of flies, but the most successful combination was a black midge biot behind a special emerger. They took both flies consistently. There were a lot of flies on the water for a while and the fish fed selectively. If the fish are not rising, try a black midge biot with an egg as an attractor. Although the midges are the principal food with the mysis close to the dam, the baetis nymphs are starting to move about a little. Today the fish did respond to small black nymphs and a black copper john.
Recommended Flies: The water is very clear and is now well above its usual winter flow so the fish will be more spread out than usual. It will also be a little easier accessing the river as the warmer temperatures melt the ice on some of the accesses. 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. 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. 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.
With the warmer weather there has been an increase in run-off causing the water flow to begin to fluctuate through each day. Ed advises that the fishing is excellent lower down with midges and stoneflies. The main thing though 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 laterger 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. Small stone flies #16 - #12 - 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 last 10 days. As the Colorado is lower down, it will be coloring up quickly as the lower lying snow pack melts. It did not look pretty last Thursday. 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.