The weather deteriorated towards the end of the week with Saturday being particularly cold and wet. We went to the Fly Fishing industry retailer show and on our return on Saturday evening there was snow on Mount Sopris making the distinct point that the colder weather is not far in front of us. Over the next few days the top temperature is predicted to be 65 degrees with the daily threat of thunderstorms and rain. With the Pan running at 235cfs, the water flow has been consistent for a week. On the other hand, the rains caused the flow in the Fork at Basalt jumped up dramatically by Saturday evening. It has settled back a little so that it is now running at 579cfs which is 120cfs above last weeks flow.
The Fly Fishing Retailers Expo in Denver this year was a quiet affair. There were definitely less exhibitors and less retailers present. Much of that was attributable to the decision to hold the show during August rather than the usual later September time slot when the season has quietened down. For a time the talk had been that next year the show was going to go to Vegas. But at the show it was announced that it will be in Denver next year but back in September again. There was not a great deal of innovation in evidence this year. Simms have come out with a $700 pair of waders which seems senseless and certainly in an era of improving quality and reducing prices forced by the commoditization of much of the industry, it is certainly going against the general market trend. One example of a product which demonstrates the opposite characteristics is Albright's new aluminum saltwater disc drag fly reels for under $150. Where one is accustomed to seeing prices of $500 and upwards for such reels, the new Albright product will give the competition a real run for their money (pun intended). Another innovation which was equally impressive was a new K pump series for inflating rafts and floatation devices. It’s a brilliant device for rafters who need to inflate a little during a journey. It will certainly become the industry standard when the product becomes more widely known. We will be carrying it in the shop as soon as we can get delivery of inventory. We are also now carrying Outcast rafts and pontoon craft. We will be instituting our generous gift certificate promotions and advertising it on the website on our sale pages as soon as we get the time to do the work.
Flambeau has introduced a new fly box which we will be carrying which is excellent value and very well designed. It is waterproof and comes in 3 configurations and sizes and will certainly prove to be a winner when compared to a lot of other waterproof fly boxes on the market. We have also begun to carry a range of small travel or pack fly rods from March Brown. This is an excellent product for those who want a small good quality fly rod to carry with them in their brief case or pack. They are seven piece rods and therefore break down to a very small size. One of their products is a convertible rod which actually can be shortened down to a 6ft fly rod while one is actually fishing!! They cast well and will certainly be an interesting consideration for those who want such an item. To accompany that rod we will be carrying some new reels from Marryat which are swiss made, very small and will certainly suit such a small rod. In time we will put together a package for marketing that product as well.
Current Flow: below the Dam - 235cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
The weather this week was a little unsettled earlier and definitely unsettled by the weekend. During the week mid-river the fishing was mainly nymphing with PMD and BWO emergers fished down deeper. The fish would be on dries for a little but most of the surface activity was underneath so it was deceiving if one did not watch carefully. Each evening the fish took black midge emergers fished 6 inches or so below the surface. The #20 black beadtail emerger worked well as did a #22 special black emerger.
As the weather deteriorated the dry fly fishing improved. Barry reported large drakes coming off during the week at the 12 mile mark. So provided one travels higher up the pan there is still good drake fishing available.
On Sunday afternoon the weather was clear but colder. During the morning the fish were taking midges as well as a few BWOs. In the later afternoon as it got a little colder they took a range of bead head bwo emergers fished down. Then as it got darker and the midges started to emerge the fish took them from just under the surface.
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 great but beginning to abate just a little. From now until autumn the fishing will remain 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. The colder and changeable weather is making it essential to take care in dressing for your day out. Don't take any chances so don't make any assumptions with a bright clear blue sky in the morning. The week just passed gave a good lesson to anyone who took a chance that a bright cloudless morning would persist all day.
Recommended Flies: With the water level at 238cfs, the level is excellent for the fish and a little easier to wade. The bigger fish have spread out 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.
With the additional rains towards the end of the week the flow in the Fork has jumped up again so that it is 120cfs higher at Basalt than last week. During last week with the lower flows most of the floating occurred lower down from Carbondale. It was just too shallow for a larger raft unless one was prepared to get out and drag it through the shallowest waters. However the additional rains have made it a little more accessible higher up again for a day or so. The reports this week were of good fishing particularly in the mornings. 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.
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.
The rain of the past few days has dirtied up the Colorado again so it will be best if you take the Glenwood exit and come a little way up the Roaring Fork for some better quality water.
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.