The weather has begun to cool down a little with cloud cover in the afternoons threatening rain. The storms though in prospect have, tended to pass by on the last couple of days. Early in the week there was rain at night which freshened up everything nicely. This weekend we had Basalt River days, a local 2 day event which kept the fishermen out of town a little. On Thursday the flow in the Pan was dropped again by 50cfs. I swear I'm going to have to take up Gordon's advice and have a pattern tied called the Discombobulated Bug. I am sure that the entire insect population on the Lower Frying Pan is confused with the changing levels and temperatures at this point. As a consequence the water in the Fork below Basalt is now definitely shallow to the point where floating in a raft involves a good work out. However if one is still prepared to make the effort the fishing is still strong.
The weather is definitely starting to cool a little with the evenings noticeably drawing in. I hate to say it, but if one looks closely enough there is a hint that the colors are changing just a fraction on some of the trees. The predicted temperatures are in the 80's but as the cloud cover comes over its gets comfortably cooler. Although there are predictions of thunderstorms over the next few afternoons, the probability is low according to the weatherman. But frankly don't place much store in such predictions as the changeable weather here is just as likely to catch you unawares if you are not prepared. There are still a lot of fishermen about and in fact in the last week I have seen a lot more on the Fork than in previous weeks. However the pressure is not great on the Fork and there is still excellent fishing with little pressure if one is prepared to walk a little. In addition as the flow continues to fall the Fork become easier to wade at most accesses granting one the opportunity to enjoy some excellent fishing where the higher water made it more difficult. However, keep an eye on the weather as if there is any heavy rain in the catchment the river can come up quite quickly overnight for a short time.
Current Flow: below the Dam - 238cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
Early in the week the weather was as predicted with bright mornings turning a little windy in the afternoons and then clouds and the threat of rain or a storm. For excample Tuesday was a little windy and gusty with clouds skating across the sky. There were a few fish rising to BWO's. They took a #14 stimulator with either a loopwing or a beadtail emerger dropper. Fish were on the edges or in the quieter sections of the pocket water. That night it rained late until early in the morning. However it was not heavy so there was no noticeable change in the water levels next day. The hatches remain strong with PMDs in the morning as well as midges. In the afternoons, a few BWO's and still the rare drake mid-river but the drakes have essentially finished in that section and are now up towards the dam where they will continue to come off into September.
On Thursday the Bureau dropped the flow again so that it is now running at 238cfs. It is certainly ideal at the moment and the fractionally lighter flow makes for excellent fishing in some of the pocket water.
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 is still 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. Remember that midges are the principal biomass in the river and so provided you are comfortable fishing with smaller flies don't hesitate to try them if the fish are not responding to anything else. The mornings and the evenings get the best results with midges as they emerge but a larva down deep might attract attention when everything else is being ignored.
Recommended Flies: With the water level having dropped again to 238cfs, the level is excellent for the fish and a little easier to wade than last week. The bigger fish have spread out again under the overhanging branches and on the edges in the shade. With the water running at its current level, 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. There is a consistent midge hatch mid-morning and late in the 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. There are also caddis in the evenings. 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. In addition in the evenings, throw in a few caddis for variety. 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. 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 spinner 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 flow at Basalt in the Fork is now 100cfs down on last week. This has resulted from a combination of relatively dry weather for the week and dropping the Pan on Thursday to 238cfs. Consequently floating is getting a little harder higher up with the contribution from the Pan assisting a little below Basalt. The fishing remains excellent on the Fork with strong reports all week of good fishing. Most of the success will be from nymphing although the fish will take a dry close to the banks. However over the course of a day, the number of rising fish is very small so a dry top fly with a nymph or two as droppers is the best way to go. The fish are taking a range of flies from BWO and PMD emergers, to caddis, streamers, and the ever reliable combination of princes and san juan worms. In the afternoon when the fishing quietens down, move to fishing deep in the shade. As the water level is falling, on bright days the fish are moving to the darker deeper holes as well. Higher up much of the water is not deep at all now so wading is easier and much of the river is more accessible. Where the river narrows, the water remains deep and big fish can be seen lurking in the shade as one floats over them.
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 fish's 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, the Colorado was a little clearer. 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.