The Bureau has dropped the Pan a little again so it is now running at 103cfs. At this time last year the Pan was running at 418cfs!! Similarly the Fork at Basalt was running at 2420cfs last year whereas today it is running at 1180cfs. So it is clear that the run-off is well past its peak and the rivers are all in excellent condition. I floated from Carbondale to Two Rivers Park on the Colorado on Friday and it was clear all the way. The fishing was excellent on dries.
We have a lot of visitors in town now, the cabins are full and the Pan, particularly towards the dam is shoulder to shoulder. However, on Friday on our float was only saw 2 other boats and saw at the most half a dozen fishermen wading all the way to Glenwood. So if you are coming out don't pass up the opportunity to either float or wade on the Roaring Fork at this time. It is very quiet, particularly during the week and the fishing is excellent. If certainly offers the best dry fly fishing in the area at the moment. There were a lot of PMD's and caddis coming off and some drakes on the Colorado. There are a few small drakes coming off higher up but they are very intermittent.
The weather in the coming week promises to be very hot with the chance of thunderstorms all week. The cloud cover will offer the good possibility of hatches, but more importantly on the Pan the cloud cover will bring the fish out a little. In the bright light with the particularly low water, the fishing is tougher than one would expect. It is a matter of being prepared to fish as deep as possible and then wait for the insects to come off either in the afternoon or when the clouds are out. There is certainly great fishing at the moment but one has to be prepared to wait for the conditions and in the meantime look for the places the fish will hide out.
With the higher water on the Fork, the fishing is far more predictable and the warmer water is bringing the insects off more frequently.
Current Flow: below the Dam - 103cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
They dropped the Pan a little more on Thursday so that now it is running at just over 100cfs. The weather has been hot bright and windy in the afternoons.
Early in the week while nymphing I used a #10 orange stimulator as a strike indicator and it got as much attention as the nymphs. It was in fairly shallow water so the dry drifted well. So now it is worth trying a large fly as a strike indicator for variety.
Towards the Dam, the dries don't start to work until later in the afternoon. Harry reports that the best dry fly fishing is after 4.30pm. On Saturday he had success with PMD nymphs during the day, dries and cripples in the late afternoon and then spinners towards dark.
Mid-river and lower down nymphing is still the way to go at the moment. There are still a number of big fish about in quite shallow water so in the bright light they are lying on the bottom and are in the riffles where they feel a little safer. Even in the quieter water the fish are rarely taking flies off the surface at the moment, preferring to take emergers. I did get some where the stimulator drifted past overhanging bushes and fish would dart out to grab the fly as it floated past. Every now and then a fish will put its head out of the water but it is only a matter of days before they realize that the bwo, midges and PMDs are thick on the surface and are there for the taking. Last evening there was a thick hatch of midges with a lot of PMD's intermingling. Yet the fish remained under the surface with only the occasional splash as one took a fly.
The most successful flies mid-river this week were baetis nymphs such as sparkle baetis #18 - #20, black pheasant tails #18 and #18 icebreakers. On the surface orange stimulators #10 - #14 worked as strike indicators. The flies are tending to catch the bottom a lot more at the moment because in many places the recent high flow washed off a lot of the material which covered the rocks and helped the flies slip over them. Now the hook just catches. However it is less slippery walking although where the flow was not as high on the edges it is still just as slippery as before.
On Sunday I tried a few new PMD patterns we have just got into the shop this year. The split case PMD nymph #18, anatomical PMD #16, BH Crystal PMD #16, Mighty May Sloan #18 and a bubble back PMD #18. They all worked well. The fish below took the split case PMD and is indicative of the size of fish being taken. A few fish were rising but all those caught were sitting low in the water. By mid afternoon clouds had blown in and there were a few drops of rain but that passed as quickly as it arrived.
It will not be long before the big drakes start coming off. A few smaller one's have been coming off and the nymphs are prolific in the water and under rocks.
Recommended Flies: The fish have now adjusted to the lower water again and therefore will be a little wary as they seek the darker deeper areas in the bright light. The current level is so low that the fish will be moving back to more protected areas and it will concentrate them more particularly when the light is bright. However at the moment there are still quite big fish in surprisingly shallow water. However after they have been disturbed a few times they will keep shifting to more protected areas. That is why it is wise to try and fish lower down towards Basalt where there have not been as many fishermen in the water. The lower flow will also make wading a little easier giving greater access to the river again. The water is so low and so clear it is now essential to use either 6x or 7x tippet. There is a consistent midge hatch between mid-morning and late afternoon into the evening and the PMD's are beginning their cycle of 2 hatches a day. The fish have not yet moved emphatically to the PMD's so first 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. Use baetis nymphs if nothing is moving on the surface. Try the sparkle baetis, pheasant tails and the icebreaker. Now that the water is clear you can try rs2's micro baetis and other very small patterns as well. Currently the better baetis hatches are towards the dam usually around midday to early afternoon if it is cloudy. Otherwise fish in the shade.
Mid-river the baetis are intermittent at best. The PMD's are coming off twice a day. The fish are taking them more consistently towards the Dam so start with nymphs then move to emergers, cripples and dries finishing off in the evenings. Try anatomical pmds, barrs emergers, bubble back pmds and special emergers all sizes #16 - #18. It promises to be a long day so consider starting to fish later in the day so you can fish well into the evening.
Mid-river, the fish are not consistently on dries yet. However, that won't last for long. In addition the water is now thick with drake nymphs so use drake nymph patterns, preferably smaller sizes #14 - #18. Hares ears and pheasant tails will also work well. Sparkle baetis, pheasant tails as well as PMD nymphs and emerger patterns will work well provided they are fished deep. However the key is to keep the flies as low as possible in the water. Don't hesitate to use as much weight as you consider necessary to get the fly to the bottom. You will lose a few flies on the bottom but if you don't you are not fishing deep enough.
The condition of the water in the Fork is now excellent all the way to Glenwood. The best dry fly fishing is closer to Glenwood on PMD's and caddis. BWO's will also work well.
Ed reported excellent fishing from Carbondale down during the week as well as on the Colorado. He was using caddis dries with PMD emerger droppers.
Higher up the hatches have not become as extensive and the fishing required nymphing more often than dries. However Alan reported good dry fly fishing in the evenings as darkness fell. It is only a short time until the fishing will provide excellent dry fly activity all the way up the Fork.
I floated with Alan from Carbondale to Two Rivers on Friday afternoon from 2.30 to 8.30pm. The fishing was excellent. We caught fish all the way. The first hookup was at the Carbondale bridge and we landed the last fish at the confluence of the Roaring Fork and the Colorado. At the start of the float, LaFontaine caddis pupae worked well but as we floated lower more fish began feeding on the surface. So we changed to dry flies and immediately starting landing fish. Alan started out with a yellow humpy #16, I had a #10 orange stimulator with a PMD emerger dropper. Most fish took the dropper while the larger fish took the stimulator. After breaking off some quite big fish, I put on a PMD cripple pattern which immediately worked as well. Alan had also changed to a stimulator #16 with a PMD emerger and was consistently hooking up, mostly on the PMD. A lot of the fish slapped at the stimulator and then took the emerger. There was a good caddis hatch and a lot of PMD's coming off. The best of the surface activity was earlier in the afternoon, and even though the surface fish quietened down as the day progressed the response to the flies was consistently strong. It was an excellent day and to be recommended to anyone visiting the area.
Recommended Flies: Above Carbondale use the same flies as the Pan (See our report for the Frying Pan). Generally try PMDS, caddis and BWO's. Try nymphs until the fish are moving under the surface then try emergers switching to dries only when the fish are taking the flies off the top. Use an orange stimulator as a strike indicator. The fish will attack it and occasionally will take it. The caddis are thick now so caddis pupa patterns and free swimmers work as well as dries.
Ed advises that the Colorado is in great condition at the moment. It was certainly an excellent color when we floated into it on Friday. The fish are taking drakes, pmds, caddis and baetis.
Recommended Flies: drakes #10, #12, PMD's #16, #18, baetis #18,20 and midges, both dries and emergers; 20 inchers size #10 - #14; streamers #6 and #8 and smaller.