The early part of the week experienced some very cold weather as well as a very strong wind as the change blew in. It was so cold that ice formed in the shaded areas in the creeks as well as on the pond. The happy consequence is that no precipitation fell to speak of and it slowed down the runoff a little.
However as the week progressed the weather settled down and began to warm again. The forecast is for cloudy and possibly wet weather during the early part of this coming week with continuing below freezing overnight temperatures for a day or so. This will ensure that the water color remains excellent even though we are now in the run-off. The fishing will therefore remain excellent. In fact the promise of cloudy weather will also give rise to some BWO activity at times. Later however, it looks as though it will be warming up and bringing some thunderstorms. Frankly we have had enough precipitation for the moment so if the thunderstorms pass us by and don't rain anywhere in our watershed I will be happy. I just looked as a matter of interest at the flows at the same time last year and noted that the Fork was running at 415cfs (currently 738cfs) and the Pan was running at 84cfs (now 293cfs). That's an amazing difference in both rivers and gives an idea of just how different the fishing conditions are this year compared to last year. Although it might make wading a little more tricky, it will certainly spread out the larger fish and provided excellent conditions for their growth this year.
It is quiet at the moment in town. All the ski personnel have left and as a consequence a lot of the dependent businesses have shut for a break. Even so there have been quite a few visitors over the weekend on the river. The fishing generally has been good although the key at the moment is to know your way around. If you have limited time and are not familiar with the area, consider getting a guide to show you around so you don't spend a lot of unproductive time looking for the fish. The higher water spreads them out so it takes a little effort to find them. The float trips our clients have had on the Fork over the last week have been extremely successful as the guides have been able to get to areas which have not been fished much this year and the higher water has made floating to these areas now possible.
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 three weeks of August. September is almost fully booked as well. If you want details click on the lodging link on the left.
Current Flow: below the Dam - 293cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
As a matter of interest, at this time last year the Pan was running at 84cfs. It is now running at 293cfs and is getting higher by the week as the tributaries make greater contributions in the warmer weather. The beginning of the week was changeable with very blustery winds on Monday which preceded a very cold change on Tuesday. It was so cold, it was necessary to dress in winter garb to walk around outside.
This slowed down the runoff so that the tributaries although down a little were still running off but are carrying clear water. Hence the Pan is a nice clear color. The windy weather has caused a lot of debris to hit the water. There were more sticks and branches in the water this week than last.
The unsettled weather and the bright light kept the fish subdued although in the evenings later in the week there were nice midge hatches up until 8pm. Dave fished on the Pan on Friday and reported success with loopwing emergers and baetis nymph patterns.
Sunday started off nicely but in the afternoon a change blew in dropping the barometer and bringing some clouds and dull light. A few BWO's came off in the afternoon and there was a good midge hatch mid-river in the evening.
Mid-river from about midday the fish responded well to #20 sparkle baetis and a green midge larva with a silver beadhead. For a while until mid-afternoon the fish were quite active. The photo below indicates the average size of the fish feeding. The bead head had enough weight to get down both flies near the bottom. No fish fed on the surface for most of the day. Harry caught a few on dries up towards the dam but most of his fish were also caught on baetis nymph patterns. In the evening the fish took black midge larva patterns with a glass bead head.
The fish have not fed strongly on the surface for a week now. It is probably a combination of the unsettled weather and the fish still getting used to the higher water. The midge hatches are still the strongest hatches although they are later in the day.
Overall, it is currently a combination of baetis and midge patterns fished under the surface which are producing the best results. The anticipated change coming in the weather will keep the fish low although there will be the chance of a BWO hatch if the conditions suit.
Recommended Flies: The next 10 days promises changeable weather with the chance of thunderstorms. So dress in the expectation of cold rain with the sun breaking through from time to time. The tributaries will continue to run high, so coupled with the higher flow from Ruedi, it will be a matter of tracking down the fish as they will have moved to the slower water on the edges, or in side channels. The higher flow will also make wading a little more difficult, so if you are unsure on your feet be careful and get advice as to the better places to wade. The narrower the river flow, the harder it is to wade. Make sure you are using light tippet, however as the water colors up and the volume increases, it will be possible to go to 6x and even 5x closer to town as it will now be less visible. The fish are now in the quieter water so tread carefully. If you watch closely you will be amazed where you will find larger fish as they spread out to new locations under banks and next to logs and rocks for protection. Polaroids are essential. Now more than ever one must be a hunter to find your quarry consistently. There is now a consistent hatch between mid-morning and late afternoon into the evening. Being spring conditions, be prepared for a variety of weather on the same day. Continue to spot the fish feeding and fish directly at them. Try midge larva and pupa before the hatch starts. If the hatch appears lackluster, use bead head pupa patterns allowing them to drift down. 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 now moving about in the water so be ready with very small nymph patterns. So far, micro baetis, sparkle baetis and pheasant tails have been successful. There have been a few baetis hatches so the dries have worked a little, but it is early in the season. If it is quiet it is worth trying baetis nymphs down deep near the bottom. In the faster water, remember that the water right on the bottom moves more slowly. So fish will remain on the bottom feeding comfortably despite the increased flow overhead.
The Fork has settled down from last week due to the colder weather although it did jump up towards the end of the week on the 18th due to the hotter weather to exceed 800cfs. Currently it is running at 738fs. To give you an idea of just how much higher the flow is and how earlier the run-off is this year, last year at the same time the Fork was running at 415cfs!!
Ed and Chris reported good trips this week on the Fork. They both had most success on stone flies but midges are working well in the mornings and baetis in the afternoons as well. The colder weather meant that during most of the week the water color in the Fork was excellent. It did jump up on the 18th but has settled since. If the promised warmer weather returns, the flow will jump up again and it will be a matter of fishing higher again. This week the fishing was excellent all the way down below Basalt towards Carbondale
Merle also reported great fishing on the Fork higher up with stoneflies. The higher up the Fork one travels now, the better the water. Merle reported that his trip on Saturday was one of the best he has experienced at this time of year. He reported any stonefly pattern from golden stone to 20 inchers worked a treat. However again, he advises that the better fishing is higher up if one is wading.
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 cooler weather of the past week did not help the Colorado much. The water below Cabondale from the Crystal and the continuing the work on Shoshone have contributed to make the Colorado practically unfishable at the moment when there is so much better fishing just a few minutes up the road. 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 and fish it try midges, and 20 inchers. Also try any baetis 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.