Well the releases from Ruedi have started earlier than anticipated. The Bureau promised to give advanced warning. They commenced releases at 1pm on Friday and sent out a notice at 1.29pm!! The proposal is to raise the level in 50cfs increments until 6pm on the 23rd when the releases will reach 800cfs. However looking at the graph it appears that yesterday morning the flow jumped by 100cfs so that at the moment it is running at 584cfs. This is effectively a release of 550cfs and the additional flow of 34cfs from Rocky Creek. The Pan won't be worth fishing while the water is rising unless you are at the dam and can cope with the higher water. It will be better when the water clears, the level stabilizes and the fish settle down a little. That will be around Thursday. It will be interesting though as the fish find quieter sections on the side of the flow and settle down to feed. There will be a lot of grass and material covered by the higher water which has laid on the banks dry for years so a lot of feed will become available which will be great for the fish.
Of course the higher water will also mean that the fishing from Basalt down on the Fork will also be tough until the flow slows down. At the same time the Fork has risen from the hot weather. Currently it is running at 2100cfs at Basalt. It was 827cfs at this time last week. So it will be a matter of getting as high up the Fork as you can. It will certainly attract a lot of rafting traffic during this time.
For the next 10 days the weatherman promises hot weather all day and clear skies so this period is the height of the run-off. For the next day or so there is a chance of thunderstorms but in 3 days they are calling for 35mph winds so the hot weather and a high wind will definitely get the remaining snow pack melting in a hurry. Although it will slow the fishing down while it passes, it is actually good to get past the high water mark sooner rather than later so that we can look forward to some great fishing with the higher clear water and the big fish spreading out.
We finally got some photos developed and digitized of a trip Merle had out during the Comedy Festival with some time actor and celebrated fisherman and raconteur, Rip Torn. Below is a picture of an excellent fish he picked up on the Fork. Its hard to remember those colder days when we were just waiting for spring and summer. Time passes. I saw a grasshopper out this morning, so all it well.
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 - 584cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
At this time last year the Pan was running at 152cfs. By the end of the week, the Pan will be running at about 830cfs with the increased releases from Ruedi and Rocky Fork in full run-off mode. With the rising colored water the best place to fish the Pan is right at the dam on the flats but the rising water will make it hard to wade. Merle caught some great fish last night with his client on mysis shrimp as the increased releases are dumping a lot more shrimp into the Pan. Harry caught fish a little lower down nymphing with midges however since then the water has risen further. For a while now, below the Dam the Pan won’t be easy fishing for a few days. As the released flow settles at 800cfs the river will clear, the fish will spread out further and it will be back to the usual. However it will be most nymphing for most of the way unless you can find some quiet side channels and back waters where the hatching bwo's and midges will drift and settle. In addition as the water covers ground and material which hasn't been inundated for years, there will be a lot of terrestrial bugs and worms which will be available to the fish. So san juan worms, and other larger attracter patterns will be worth trying.
As the flow settles down the big fish will spread out for the next 2 weeks until they bring the releases down again. It will be an interesting time and there will be a lot of material floating by including the odd intrepid rafter and canoeists, so standing in the river might become a dangerous pastime in some places.
For an idea of what might float past, look at the following pictures. This "stump" float into the top of our private water this morning when the release was at 500cfs. Will it still be there when the release hits 800cfs?
Recommended Flies: For the next 4 or 5 days, fishing will be particularly tough in the high dirty water. The best chance for clear water will be up towards the Dam. The fish will be unsettled as the water continues to rise until mid-week. The fish will be on the side or in channels in the slower water. As the water rises and reaches a lot of bushes and shrubs along the bank, the fish will hide under them in the shade. They will be disconcerted in the rising water and so will seek as much protection as they can find. However when the conditions settle down by the end of the week the fishing will be great in the newly covered grass and areas which have not seen water for years. However the wading will be hard if you are unsure on your feet so be careful, get advice where to access the river and take a walking stick for support. The good thing though is that the rocks on the edges which have just been inundated will not be slippery like the rocks in the river bottom. So paradoxically the wading will be a little safer in that respect. With the Dam letting out a lot of water, a lot more shrimp will be in the top part of the Pan. It will also be worth trying larger flies than normal including streamers stoneflies and larger princes in the heavier water as this fish won't have the same time to check them. On the edges the midges and baetis will still be hatching but the best bet will be nymphing because unless it is particularly calm the fish will tend to remain lower down for a while. These conditions will persist for 2 weeks and then the water will drop dramatically and we can see how much material has been shifted about in the increased flows.
At this time last year the Fork was running at 1450cfs, compared with 2100cfs today and still rising. The Fork has definitely blown out and with each passing day and the hot weather and high winds predicted in 3 days, it will be tough fishing except in the highest reaches. However when the peak passes and water will clear and the fishing will be excellent particularly floating in areas accessible only in high water. With the rising colored water, the fish are spending most of their time keeping out of the heaviest flows and away from the silt which gets in their gills. In the colored water bigger flies with a little color and some wire or flash to attract their attention will be the best call. It will be a matter of finding the quieter channels and backwaters because the fish still have to eat. Look for the protected areas or down deep in pocket water. Anywhere the flows is gentler and not so colored.
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. 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.