The last few days have been quite cold at night with the temperature falling below freezing over night slowing down the flow to a modest extent. As a consequence the Fork up higher and the Pan have been in excellent condition and the fishing has been good.
The weather will remain unsettled and it will be below freezing overnight during the next week until next week end when it is predicted to clear a little and get warmer. Ruedi currently has a little way to go before the level becomes troublesome. This week markers were place in the Frying Pan at strategic points so that the DOW can monitor the proposed high water releases when they occur. It is understood that the releases will take place at the height of the runoff and the Pan will be running at 800cfs for up to 2 weeks. It will not be fishable in a lot of places at that stage but it will certainly be interesting to see because it has been a decade since that sort of release has occurred. It will certainly shift a lot of material about so at that time the Fork above Basalt will be the best place to fish. The height of the run-off will be determined by the weather so if you are coming out plan to check in advance to get an idea of the conditions.
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 - 301cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
The level in the Pan is definitely sneaking up. The Tributaries are all running at full speed although the cold weather has kept the flows to a manageable level. Taylor Creek for instance has cleared over the last week so it is not depositing as much color as it was. Consequently, although the flows are higher, the water is nice and clear and in extremely good condition.
The changeable weather this week offered a bit of a challenge to fishermen who did not go out dressed well. Mornings which started out bright and sunny invariably degenerated as the week went on so that by mid to late afternoon it was cold. Towards the end of the week we were getting cold rain showers in the afternoons. There were a few thunderstorms as well.
The fishing has been consistently good with a lot of big fish well spread out provided you look for them. Monday was very bright and clear after the overnight rain on Sunday. The fish were not very active on the surface. They were laying low in the calmer water or on the edge of the faster water. They responded to both the #20 sparkle baetis and the #20 motor oil choronocone provided the fly was drifted directly at them. As the fish were in the shallows the flies collected a lot of material while drifting. In some places I was putting the fly 1ft from the edge of the water. When walking forward after fishing, the fish would dart out from under the bank. So it was impossible to get the fly to them. The fish took the fly in water from 2.5ft –1 ft in depth. In the evening there was a good midge hatch. The fish took an emerger pattern with a shuck trailer.
Tuesday started out clear and bright. Throughout the day the weather became threatening and then blew on. However just after 7pm a thunderstorm started and brought a little rain. For an hour before the storm the midges were thick on the water. The fish took an emerger and then for variety they took a very small red larva pattern fished as a dropper near the bottom. The next 2 days in the evenings the fish took emergers as the weather became colder. By Friday the weather was getting unsettled and colder with the threat of rain. Mid-river the fish were on to a few BWO's which were coming off. They took #20 adams parachute and a #22 matthews comparadun.
Saturday was changeable weather starting out bright and sunny and ending up colder and windy with some rain showers. There were a few BWO's coming off in the afternoon and the fish were beginning to concentrate on them. In the evening there was a good midge hatch with the fish taking emergers and griffith gnats.
Sunday is was bright and windy for most of the day. There were a few BWO's about and midges later in the afternoon. The fish took a range of flies including the sparkle baetis nymph, choronocone, midge emerger patterns and a #22 baetis comparadun. Generally the fish sat low in the water and only an occasional fish came to the surface.
Up towards the dam in contrast to mid-river the dry fly activity is a lot stronger. Harry advises that the fish are taking adult midges and BWO's through the afternoon.
Recommended Flies: The next 10 days promises changeable weather with the chance of thunderstorms but warming towards the end of the week. So dress in the expectation of cold rain with the sun breaking through from time to time. The mornings are still very cold so if you are going out early, be well dressed for such conditions. It is still going to be freezing overnight. Being spring conditions, be prepared for a variety of weather on the same day. The tributaries are now running higher, 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, 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. 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 and parachute Adams #18 - #22. The baetis nymphs are now moving about in the water so be ready with very small nymph patterns. Use sparkle patterns in the colored water as they fish tend to notice them more easily. There have been a few baetis hatches so the dries have worked a little, but it is still early in the season. Of late the fish have been taking parachute adams in the evenings and are beginning to take the matthews comparadun #22. If it is quiet try 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.
During the earlier part of the week when the weather was hotter the Fork ran up to 1000cfs at Basalt. However the last few days have been colder and consequently the flow in the Fork has slowed nicely and is currently at 897cfs. Ed and Merle have been reporting great fishing up higher. Merle has been having a lot of success on stoneflies of all patterns but says that the 20 incher is the most productive. Ed concurs as well as reporting great caddis fishing up high with midges in the morning and BWO's in the afternoon. They both prefer the Fork at this time of year because few fishermen are about at the moment and the fishing has been excellent.
Harry floated from Basalt to Carbondale on Sunday and advised that the fishing was good nymphing with caddis and midges. He said there was a good hatch but the fish were not feeding on the surface a great deal.
The increased color enables one to use heavier leader together with larger stoneflies with a little flash or color to make them stand out a little. In the heavier flow the fish will move to the sides to get out of the dirtiest water. They will continue feeding in the quieter water so, as with the Pan it is just a matter of finding the quieter areas and moving along carefully spotting the fish laying behind objects or on the sides in channels and protected areas.
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 generally increased flow in the Fork, the water below Carbondale 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. 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.