Another week of changeable weather. Early in the week there was some rain but not as much as in the past few weeks. Consequently the floating on the Fork has been excellent with the water quality being maintained. In addition on Tuesday the flow in the Pan was increased to 289cfs thereby augmenting the flow in the Fork below Basalt and ensuring that good floating will persist for at least a little while longer. The water flow in the Pan has certainly been up and down from week to week this year. Although at this level the change has less effect on the fish it will certainly make some access point of marginal utility when one is trying to get into the river to wade. Lower down towards Basalt the additional water from the tributaries increases the flow to closer to 325cfs at Basalt. The fish have shifted out of the heaviest flows and are to be found feeding quietly on the edges or in more protected areas.
It is interesting compare the flows in the rivers this year and last year at the same time. The Roaring Fork at Basalt is currently running at 565cfs whereas at the same time last year at the same reading station it was running at 788cfs. Today the Pan is running at 293cfs but in reality at the confluence with the Roaring Fork it is probably closer to 330cfs. At this time last year the Pan was running at 172cfs, and using the same analysis was therefore putting about 215cfs into the Fork. Accordingly, the flow in the Fork at Basalt this year excluding the contribution from the Pan is less than half the flow at the same time last year. Given that the run-off is well past, this is a testament as to how dry it has been in the Spring and Summer this year in comparison to last year.
It was very hot during the early part of last week but it turned cooler as the week progressed. On Saturday the lower temperatures persisted throughout the day so that to be absolutely sure one was comfortable it was necessary to wear an extra layer on the river. Overnight on Saturday there was a little rain as predicted. Sunday was a little warmer even though in the afternoon heavy cloud cover made it cooler for a couple of hours and threatened rain. The weatherman is predicting that it will get even colder towards the end of the week, so if you are going to spend the day fishing, in addition to some wet weather gear, keep a warm layer closer by and wear thicker socks and maybe an additional layer under your waders to ensure that the cold does not cut your day short.
We remain very busy at the moment with a lot of fishermen about on both the Pan and the Fork. Most of the river traffic on the Roaring Fork is lower down below Carbondale even though the consensus is that the better fishing is higher up towards Basalt and above.
Current Flow: below the Dam - 293cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
Monday started out bright and hot and remained that way for most of the day until evening. The clouds gathered around dark but it did not start raining until late. On Tuesday the Bureau put the flow from Ruedi back up to 289cfs so that it is now flowing above 320cfs mid-river and certainly lower down making it harder to wade. The higher water has again forced fishermen to seek more protected areas to get into the water. It has also pushed the insects about a little and ensured that the fish remain spread out. It is good for the fish but just makes getting to them a little more difficult if you are not strong on your legs in the faster water.
By the end of the week it had turned cooler. Saturday for instance, started out cool and remained that way for most of the day with cloud cover providing a nice respite from the heat of the sun. Towards the end of the day the clouds cleared and the day became a little brighter. It was good day for hatches and there were plenty all day. Mid-river there were PMD's and BWO's and in the evenings the midges came off. Saturday afternoon the most successful flies were a #14 stimulator and PMD emergers. On Saturday evening both PMD and midge emergers worked but as it got later the fish were more interested in the emergers. Sunday was a little warmer and brighter which made the fishing a little more challenging when competing with the higher water flow.
The key to good fishing now is to be prepared to spend time on the river. There will be dull periods during the day but the fish have to feed and eventually provided your presentation is good and the fly selection correct, there will be ample success. The pressure on the Pan now is at its greatest, particularly on the weekends. Most pull-offs all the way to the Dam have cars during the day so there are no accessible places which have not been heavily fished by now. From here until autumn the fishing will become testing unless you are prepared to spend the time to choose the correct patterns and get the presentation correct.
Recommended Flies: With the water back up to 289cfs, the wading is a little harder, particularly in the narrower parts of the river and not to be recommended if you are unsteady on your legs. The water level is now excellent for the fish although it makes it more difficult for the fishermen to get to them. The bigger fish have spread out again under the overhanging branches and on the edges in the shade where the water level has increased by up to 1ft depending on the width of the river. With the higher water, it will be possible to fish with stronger tippet although the fish will still inspect the flies closely before taking them. The drakes have moved higher up the Pan although with the water a little colder because of the increased released don't be surprised to see a few drakes mid-river either during the day or in the evenings. There is a consistent midge hatch between mid-morning and late afternoon into the evening. In addition the PMD's have two hatches a day. BWO's are also coming off in the afternoons particularly when it is cloudy and overcast. So now the fish have a choice of PMD's, BWO's and midges all at once and are likely to chop and change as they feed. So if one pattern is not working don't waste too much time. Instead change and try something else and keep changing until you can discern what they are taking. Of course if your presentation is suspect, it doesn't matter what you are using. As the fishing pressure increases, the fish are becoming more selective with the greater fishing pressure and will only take particular colors and/or sizes as the hatches become more prolific. A little after the PMD hatch ends try spinners fished low in the water. They will take time to sink to the bottom so the spinners can be fished for some time during the morning and at night. In the evenings and after dark there are a lot of caddis such as the pumpkin caddis flying about as well. So large flies such as stimulators and other caddis patterns fished close to the banks with midge droppers have been working well provided you are dressed well enough against the cold.If you are fishing to rising fish, 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. Depending on the time you start out first use nymphs then move to emergers, cripples and then dries and spinners to finish off in the evenings. It promises to be a long day so consider starting to fish later in the day so you can fish well into the evening. If it starts to rain, keep fishing. The best hatches of BWO's seem to come off in the rain. So it is essential to dress well for the changeable weather even if it looks bright a clear in the mornings. The next week promises another cool change so be prepared for cold evenings as we move through August onto September.
Although the flow has moved about a little with the increase from the Pan and rain earlier in the week, at the moment the Fork is running at the same level it was a week ago. The fishing is still excellent around Basalt. Merle reported great fishing towards Woody Creek on stimulators and PMD emergers. Harry advises princes and stoneflies when floating. Ed and Chris have been aving great success early with streamers and then PMDs and BWO's. Try barr's emergers, sparkle rs2's split case PMDs, princes, caddis pupae patterns and micro baetis #22. Lower down towards Glenwood the fishing tends to slow down in the afternoons particularly if the day is hot. So the consensus is that the better more consistent fishing is in the colder water higher up towards Basalt.
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. The fish are not feeding much on the surface so the expectation is that one will be nymphing most of the time. In fact even when the fish are on the surface greater success is to be had with nymphs and emergers fished lower in the water. The caddis are thick towards evenings. Lower down below Carbondale the reports are caddis, BWO's and PMDs. In the hotter afternoon the fishing gets a little patchy but it picks up again towards evening. Basically be a little more imaginative now in your fly selection. The fish have seen a lot of flies now and are getting wary. Patterns with a little difference will stand out and will attract the fishes attention until they are over-used. However the Fork is such a big river and there are so many places which are not fished extensively that persistence will pay great dividends.
With the weather of the past week having been clearer, less color was deposited into the Colorado so it was a little better fishing. However, given the risk of rain and the chance that the Fork may get some color towards Glenwood, check before you go out to make sure that the river is clear enough to make fishing worthwhile. If there is any doubt just come up Valley towards Carbondale and Basalt and you will find the Fork is great.
Recommended Flies: PMD's #16, #18, baetis #18,20 and midges, both dries and emergers; 20 inchers size #10 - #14; streamers #6 and #8 and smaller; terrestrials such as hoppers and beetles.