This week we got a snap of cold weather for a couple of days where the temperature fell well below freezing overnight. As a consequence the high country froze and the runoff slowed down significantly. The water in the Fork to Carbondale was excellent and even today is still in good shape even though it is beginning to warm up again. For the rest of the week it is predicted to be in the 60's during the day and down to 30 degrees overnight. So the condition of the Fork will deteriorate a little as the week progresses and it will be necessary to fish up higher. In addition, on Tuesday the flow in the Pan was dropped by 37cfs so that the volume of water flowing into the Fork at Basalt has dropped by that much, however, it is imperceptible in the context of the Fork's current volume.
Thunderstorms are also promised so great BWO fishing will be in the offing this week provided you take your wet weather gear along and fish through the rain.
I floated will Alan from Catherine's store to Carbondale on Saturday because the weather looked good and the color of the water was excellent. The fish responded well to caddis pupa patterns for most of the time. The caddis were extremely thick in the air in the more shady areas. While we were fishing lower down a fisherman with the ideal rig floated by. He had a raft and his wife was doing all the rowing while he fished! We complimented him on his rig. After a few exchanges he admitted , with a little prompting from his wife, that the only problem he had was that he had to learn to keep quiet and concentrate on the fishing.
We are on schedule for an increase in the releases into the Pan up to 800cfs when the height of the run-off hits. Current predictions are towards the end of the month. So if you are coming out, check the flows as the Pan will be ugly for the first few days of high water.
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 most of August and September. If you want details click on the lodging link on the left.
Current Flow: below the Dam - 267cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
Monday was a typical spring day with intermittent bright sunlight punctuating cloud and rain. The BWO's came off for a little in the rain in the afternoon and later the midges were thick mid-river. Higher up the BWO's were more prolific.
On Tuesday the flow was dropped a little so that now the water is running at 267cfs. Although it is great for the fishing I don't understand why it had to be dropped given that it is projected that the river will be running over 800cfs towards the end of the month!! The press release indicated that they were beginning to store run-off in anticipation of the 800cfs flush. I would have preferred that they left the water where it was and flush at 750cfs. Anything above 500cfs makes for tough fishing on the Pan because of access problems. So leaving the water higher at the moment, with a lesser flush or alternatively running at 800cfs for a shorter period would have been preferable. I am sure there are a number of disparate interests all with their respective opinions on the subject so as they say, a camel is a horse designed by a committee.
The cold snap in the middle of the week dropped the flow in the tributaries. Taylor Creek fell by about 6" and as a consequence the water was of excellent quality. That persisted through towards the end of the week.
Harry reports that the dry fly fishing towards the dam is improving by the day as the fish become accustomed to the higher water and are looking up more. The lower flow will also have helped a little. The fish mid-river are still tending to stay low unless one finds the quiet side channels where the baetis and midge adults drift in off the current.
Friday was bright all day. There was a nice midge hatch in the evening. Fish took a baetis nymph – an icebreaker #18 and as the midge hatch progressed took emerger patterns.
Saturday was bright during the early and middle part of the day but later the clouds blew in threateningly. However the possibility of a thunderstorm subsided. There was not a strong midge hatch in the evening and the fish were tending to look down despite some midges on the surface. Emergers fished under the surface did not work but the fish did respond to a #22 black beauty with wire wound around the body which took the fly lower to where the fish were feeding.
Sunday began cloudy and remained that way all day. The fish were not rising to any hatch. They remained low down but took a choronicone #20 aggressively. Towards the afternoon a thunderstorm threatened but delivered little. The day ended dark with just a few spots of rain.
Recommended Flies: The next 10 days promises warmer weather with the chance of thunderstorms. So dress in the expectation of rain with the sun breaking through from time to time. With the warmer weather, the tributaries will be running higher as the week progresses, so 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 flow will also make wading a little more difficult however the drop this week might help just a little, 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 midge 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 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 such as the sparkle baetis, the flashback and rojo pheasant tails and the icebreaker as the fish tend to notice them more easily. Also use a choronicone #20 or other pupa patterns as a dropper. It has been working very well when things slow. There have been a few baetis hatches so the dries have worked a little, but it is early in the season and the hatches seem to have been affected by the higher water. Of late the fish have been taking parachute adams in the evenings. If it is quiet try baetis nymphs down deep near the bottom with a choronicone dropper. 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 cold in the middle of the week has caused the run-off to subside with the consequence that the Fork down to Carbondale is in excellent condition. The flow at Basalt dropped 200cfs to be at 680cfs at one stage on Friday. The caddis are coming off prolifically and therefore pupa patterns are working well. In addition midges and BWO's as well as stone flies are all working well.
Brad fished up higher and his clients caught some nice fish on red midge larva patterns. Saturday I floated the Fork with Alan from Catherine's Store to Carbondale. The caddis were the featured hatch from the start of the float until mid afternoon. It was bright and they tended to come off in the shady areas or along the banks. The fish took caddis pupa patterns aggressively. The Lafontaine patterns were the most productive although they tended to respond to most patterns we fished. They also took barr's golden stone and Alan got one nice fish closer to Carbondale on a drake nymph. It is pictured below. The water was excellent quality due to the past few cold evenings. Below Carbondale however the water is mud from the Crystal so there is no point in trying to fish below there with such good water higher up. The water will be good for a few more days until the warmer weather starts the run-off again and colors it up and then it will be a matter of fishing up higher again.
Generally though as Ed advises, it is a combination of caddis, stoneflies, midges and BWO's if you are out all day. If you get the opportunity to float now is an excellent time before the Fork gets too dark with the height of the run-off.
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. The caddis are thick now so caddis pupa patterns and free swimmers.
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.