The weatherman was accurate this week predicting changeable weather. By Thursday we got about 8" of snow on the Pan. It was great skiing in the morning but by afternoon, in true spring style most of the snow was gone. The weather chopped and changed again. On Sunday morning, we awoke to more snow on the ground with beautiful blue skies and not a cloud to be seen.
The forecast for the next 10 days is generally for warmer weather and rain. There are a lot of fishermen getting out on both the Pan and the Fork with the warmer weather. There were a lot of cars parked at takeouts down towards Glenwood. However, the water is not high enough yet to see much floating from Basalt. The water is still low enough in places to require light 1 or 2 man rafts to be able to get through. But with the warm weather it should not be long before the flow picks up and the floating will start from higher up 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. Also remember egg patterns. .
The DOW has just designated all water from Ruedi to the Colorado a gold medal water which is an excellent testament to the quality of the fishing in our area.
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 already have July totally booked as well as the first half of August. September is 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 fishing remains strong on the Pan with midges and baetis nymphs. With the change to daylight saving, it will be necessary to bear this change in mind as the insects remain on their own time.
On Tuesday the weather was beginning to change. I went out for a while and was most successful with a green pupa pattern. The fish took some emergers for a while but they were not feeding heavily. A change in the weather was threatening. The weatherman had called for snow and something was definitely blowing in. It arrived on Wednesday afternoon and evening.
On Thursday we were recovering from about 8" of snow up the Pan. We had received more snow than the ski areas. It was typical spring weather. By late Thursday afternoon most of the snow which had fallen on the open ground had gone.
By Friday, the weather was again getting choppy. The wind was cold. The closer one got to the dam, the colder it got. The fish responded to both emergers and pupa patterns. The better results though were with bead head pupa's fished down in the shallower water.
On Saturday there was a big midge hatch at about 11 in the morning for a short period. The hatch did not last long mid-river and the fish were a little deeper in the water. It was windy and cold as a new front blew in. Very few fish were moving on the surface mid-river. So the solution was 2 bead head pupa patterns fished down in the shallower water drifted without weight. The fish responded to both olive and green bodies.More snow arrived Saturday night leaving about an inch on the ground for Sunday morning. It was cold. The barometer had risen to 30.12 inches. So the decision was taken to float on the Roaring Fork. (see report for Roaring Fork).
Recommended Flies: The next 10 days promises an inconsistent variety of weather although overall it is warming up nicely. 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. If the hatch appears lackluster, use bead head pupa patterns allowing them to drift down. Of late that has been working well. 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.
For an indication of just how much more water we have at this time of year in the Fork, for the same week last year the flow was 228cfs. It is hard to remember previous years, but it was a lot colder and March was dryer. A lot of precipitation happened in April and May. This year with the flow almost double, it is a lot easier to access the Fork higher up at this time. Alan and I floated from Basalt to Catherine's store from midday through the afternoon on Sunday. The water was skinny and certainly would be more difficult for larger rafts. We floated in a small 2 man pontoon craft which is easy to maneuver through the shallows. We passed a few fishermen who were wading and no-one reported much luck. We did well on stoneflies. Mostly golden stones #10 – 14 but also the 20 inchers #8 - #10. There were midges hatching all afternoon, yet we saw nary a fish rise. I tried various combinations of midges but did not witness any interest whatsoever. As the day progressed the water gathered more color. Alan hooked an exceptionally large fish on a golden stone but it got into the current and was impossible to get to in time. It was certainly a beautiful day and a losing a large fish does nothing but whet the appetitive for the season.
As the weather warms up and the flow picks up, expect the Crystal to dump a lot of color into the Fork below Carbondale. That bigger flow will coincide with bigger flows higher up and therefore will make floating from the higher reaches of the Roaring Fork easier and the area of choice.
The fishing in the Fork has been particularly good of late with both small and larger stone flies and midges. The stone flies are molting and the fish are taking the opportunity to feed on them as they tumble through the water. Merle continues to have success mid-river around Basalt with stoneflies of all sizes. Ed says that the fishing is excellent lower down with midges and stoneflies. The baetis are also in the water and there are reports of success on nymphs fished on the bottom towards Glenwood.
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. With the baetis moving about try small baetis nymphs such as pheasant tails fished deep. Try caddis pupa as well as eggs.
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. Also remember 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.