I am about as confused as the fish on the Pan are at the moment. Far from running the releases for 2 weeks at 800+cfs, the actual releases from Ruedi have now dropped to 100cfs!! I think it might have finally occurred to someone somewhere that we are in the middle of a mini-drought here at the moment. This week we did get some nice rain on Thursday afternoon and evening which was a welcome change. But really!? How did the Bureau manage to run the river at the highest level it has been for 11 years over Memorial Day weekend and then drop it so far down since then? The fish must be confused and giddy. I know I am. The publicity surrounding the proposal to run at 800cfs for 2 weeks certainly stopped a lot of visitors coming out. It has been very quiet on the river until the last few days.
So now the Pan is low for this time of year. At this time last year the Pan was running at 158cfs! So the fish are all moving about again trying to find some deep water in the bright sunny days.
It was exceptionally hot earlier in the week. On Tuesday the temperature was 90 degrees in Basalt and 85 degrees halfway up the Pan. The hot weather gradually lifted the Fork and then the heavy rains on Thursday dropped a lot of material and color into it so it has been dirty even though it topped out at 3,100 which is lower than the peak of the run-off at 3,500cfs. The last 2 colder days have caused the flow to drop so the Fork is beginning to settle back again and is currently 2,110. Next week the prediction is for hot weather in the mid 70's and cloudy afternoons.
So my prediction for the coming week is that the fish in the Pan will finally settle down after the water levels stays consistent for a week. Of course that excludes any further surprises from the Bureau. In addition the Fork should fish extremely well as the flow settles down again. Luckily the Bureau has little effect there.
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 - 124cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the flow in the Pan was dropped so it is now running at 124cfs. Given that it was running at 158cfs at the same time last year, the Bureau has a few questions to answer as to why they would permit the releases to run at 800+cfs over the Memorial Day weekend ensuring that the fishing would be poor at that time and then finding it necessary to drop it so dramatically. Frankly it makes no sense at all. Instead of ramping the flow up the way they did, conserving a little water and allowing the flow to be a little higher through summer until the calls start to come on would have served the fish and the fishermen better. The fish are now searching out the darker deeper areas where they can get some protection in the bright light. I've seen several blue herons out in the river of late. The fish in the shallow water will have no chance now against those adversaries.
Early in the week the weather was very bright but as the week progressed the afternoons developed thunderstorms which actually delivered some rain. Thursday afternoon, evening and night was quite wet. So much so that the run-off colored up the Pan and the Fork a little. In Thursday's rain I went out fishing and saw a few small drakes coming off. Harry and Art had reported them very thick in the water towards town. By the weekend Merle was catching fish towards the Dam on drake nymphs as well as baetis nymphs. Mid river the fish were taking nymphs but very little dry fly activity. They took baetis, icebreakers, pheasant tails and hare's ears. On Sunday I went out and deliberately fished solely with hare's ears both bead head and non bead head, sizes #14 and #16 to see how the fish responded. They did not pass up the opportunity and took all flies offered. The key was to fish as deep as possible and preferably in areas where one could not see the bottom. The fish have been spooked by the fluctuating water and in the bright light they took every opportunity to stay as low as possible.
The very hot temperatures early in the week and then the heavy rain later in the week conspired to put paid to the ideal conditions which persisted earlier last week. By Friday the floating conditions had deteriorated to the point of being unsatisfactory and even on Saturday the river remained dirty even quite high up. The last 2 days however have cooled down and it has been dry so the Fork should be fine by the first of the week. Even though the weather was extremely hot the highest flow at Basalt was 3,100cfs which is 400cfs below the highest flow 2 weeks ago. Part of the difference could be explained by the lower flow from the Pan however it is certain now that the height of the run-off is past and therefore barring any further thunderstorms and heavy rain in the next few days, the Fork from here will gradually drop and the fishing will be excellent.
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. 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.