The weather at the end of the week was beautiful and warm. Sufficient to really elevate the flows lower down on the Fork and dirty up the water nicely below Carbondale.
Over the next week the weather promises to be changeable again. Monday promises the possibility of some wet weather with an increasing likelihood of rain or snow on Tuesday. It will then turn warm and sunny again until next weekend which promises some more colder wet weather. Next weekend is the last weekend for skiing in the area so it would be fitting to have some snow on the last day if you are a skier.
This week the flow in the Pan was increased quite markedly on Wednesday and Thursday so now the flow is around 278cfs with a possibility of it being increased again. As a consequence the Fork is flowing high below Basalt, the run-off being augmented by the additional 115cfs from the Pan. The increased flow in the Pan will spread out the fish further as they relocate out of the faster water to the slower side channels and runs. I saw caddis on several occasions this week on the Pan in the evening as well as a few BWO's and on Sunday caught fish on baetis nymphs. We are well and truly back into spring fishing conditions. The most important thing to remember if you are coming up is the changeability of the weather. One day bright and sunny and a very pleasant 60 degrees. The next morning you may be greeted with an inch of snow on the ground requiring winter garb for a short time until the sun comes out. Alternatively a warm sunny morning can turn cold windy with a little snow or sleet in the afternoon. We are getting into some of the best times of the year to float, particularly higher up on the Fork where rafts will be able to access areas where the higher water will permit access until after run-off.
Its been an excellent ski season, but now its definitely time to put away the boards and get onto the river. We are looking forward to a great year with the water in storage and the snow pack.
Mike Brogle of New York stayed with us at the cabins last week and had 2 excellent days on the river with Ed. Mike kindly sent us some photos as evidence and we are pleased to feature them this week. Lovely work Mike! And I'll bet that the view looks better from New York.
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 - 278cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
On Wednesday and Thursday the flow in the Pan was increased incrementally to the current level of 278cfs. Although it put the fish down for 48 hours the fish will now be spreading themselves out and finding quieter areas to feed away from the pressure of the increased flow. It will be a matter of carefully scouting the Pan and looking for wider areas where the flow dissipates a little as the width of the flow spreads out. In addition lower down the Pan towards Basalt, the flow increases as the various tributaries begin to spill run-off into the river. This may on some occasions introduce a little color lower down on particularly warm days when the heat hastens the melt and the water runs over exposed ground.
The week started out with good weather. Monday was bright. In fact the warmth from Sunday continued through Monday and colored up Taylor Creek for a little while.
It settled down on Tuesday when the day started out cloudy. But it did remain warm and became more sunny in the afternoon. There was a small midge hatch mid-morning for a little while. I went out at 1pm for a hour. No fish were feeding on the surface. The midge hatch had died off. A caddis landed on me. It was the first one I had seen on the Pan for the season. There were a few BWO's flying around as well, but generally it was quiet. The successful combination was an Adams parachute with a chironocone dropper #20. It was a matter of spotting the fish and drifting the fly towards it. They did not move much but as soon as that dropper got close they took it. One fish had a go at the Adams but mostly it was the pupa which did the trick.
Because the water had been raised on Wednesday and Thursday I thought that the fish would take a day or so to settle down. So on Friday evening I went out without a rod, just to take a look at the river. It was a beautiful evening. A little cold from the snow which had greeted us that morning but which had melted by evening. There were a few caddis flying around and quite a healthy midge hatch. I went to a slow stretch of water anticipating that the fish had moved there from the faster water while they readjusted to the increased flow. Several fish were moving taking emergers. So I got my rod and went back. It was 6.30pm. After landing the 3 fish moving under the surface I noted a large group of fish which had obviously come out of the faster water and were stacked up feeding. Again it was the Adams parachute with the pupa dropper. Provided I put the dropper over each fish, they took it. Five fish later, the rest of them were lying too low for the pupa to drift to them behind the dry. The solution was the tiniest shot I had which pulled the fly down to the fish. The low lying fish proceeded to take the dropper again. I stopped fishing at 7.10pm. The dropper, again was a chironocone #20. Its an excellent pattern from Solitude and has been working consistently so it is worth checking out. But it was also interesting finding the fish in the slower water feeding so consistently just a little over a day after the river flow had increased so much.
On Sunday in the morning there was a modest midge hatch until a little wind blew up. The fish responded well to drifted baetis nymphs. About midday when the fish started moving more consistently under the surface, they took a black midge emerger.
Recommended Flies: The next 10 days promises an inconsistent variety of weather although overall it is warming up nicely. The tributaries are starting to run a little harder as well with the warmer weather, 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. Make sure you are using light tippet – 7x. However as the water colors up a little, 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 carefully 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 mid afternoon. Being spring conditions, be prepared for a variety of weather on the same day. Continue to spot the fish feeding 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 starting to move about in the water so be ready with very small nymph patterns. So far, micro baetis and pheasant tails have been successful. If it is quiet it is worth trying them 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 increased flow from the Pan has on its own put the Fork over 550cfs below Basalt. Earlier in the week the couple of hot days put more water in the Fork and a little color as well, although that dissipated with the colder weather moving in on Thursday. The Fork is now perfect above Carbondale.
However, the color coming into the Fork from the Crystal, makes fishing below Carbondale highly questionable if you have the option to go in higher up. Mo lives on the Crystal so we get an on the spot report daily. She advises that both Thompson and Coal creeks have blown out in this warmer weather and are basically dumping very dirty water into the Crystal which in turn dumps it into the Fork. There is no chance of this improving unless we get cold weather to freeze overnight and slow down the flow. So if you have a choice, fish on the Fork as high up as you can go or go onto the Pan. If you are coming out give Mo a call at the shop and she will give you a definitive up to the moment report on the Crystal.
The fishing in the Fork remains good with both small and larger stone flies and midges. However the increased flow will be pushing the fish about so it will be a matter or finding the slower water or side channels. The stone flies are molting and the fish are taking the opportunity to feed on them as they tumble through the water. The baetis are also in the water and there are reports of success on nymphs fished on the bottom.
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. With the increased flow and color it will be possible to use heavier tippet and heavier weight where necessary to keep control.
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. In addition the flow from the Crystal has ensured that the Fork is also dirtying up the water at Glenwood. 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.