Towards the end of the week the rain arrived and pushed the flow back up a little in the Fork. The Pan remains unchanged at 231cfs. The cloudy wet weather has brought off some excellent BWO hatches. In addition there were some strong report of Drakes up high on the Pan from Barry and Harry during the week.
The traffic has definitely quietened down now. The Labor Day weekend marked the end of the holiday traffic and we are now moving at a more leisurely pace.
It is one of the locals favorite fishing times of the year. With the coming seasonal changes the colors are starting to change up higher. There are more ducks and geese moving through. There is a subtle change in the urgency to fish. One senses the passage of time. There is a quickening in the desire to get onto the river. The hottest days of summer are but a memory. The grass has stopped growing where it is colder. There are about 2 months of great fishing ahead of us. However if one says "8 weeks" it sounds less. It has been a great summer. Will we have an Indian summer? Will we be able to stretch out our time on the river? Or will the cold of winter arrive early and cut short our last few anticipated trips? At least there is no official season imposed here. Conseqeuntly those most hardened fishing souls who are undaunted by the depths of winter actually look forward to the days when they can be on the river with no-one else in sight. But for most fishermen, the season is winding down and hunters are beginning to scout out their possibilities for the fall.
So if you are in our vicinity or just can't resist the urge to wet a line, now is the perfect time to make the journey. But then again, without putting to fine a point on it, its always a perfect time to make a journey into our little corner of the world.
Current Flow: below the Dam - 231cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
With the cloudy wet weather the BWO's came off well with a few interspersed PMD's. Harry and Barry both saw a lot of drakes up high on the Pan and reported good fishing. The flow in the Pan has been unchanged now for a while and the fish have settled into a lovely rhythm. The dry fly fishing is excellent as well as the nymphing either side of the hatches. A variety of BWO patterns are working well from the parachute Adams to the Iron Blue Dun as well as various emerger patterns. While the fish are surfacing, drifting nymphs through the shallow rougher water with little weight also works well. Try pheasant tails and sparkle baetis patterns. Gray loopwing emergers fished under the surface in the faster water are also working.
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 success. The pressure on the Pan is dropping off nicely giving ample opportunity now to get on the river without having to elbow one's way through the crowd. However the fishing remains testing unless you are prepared to spend the time to choose the correct patterns and concentrate on excellent presentation. 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.
Recommended Flies: With the water level at 231cfs, the level is excellent for the fish and a little easier to wade. The drakes are now higher up the Pan and good hatches continue. 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 range of options 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. The fish are now noticeably more selective and will only take particular colors and/or sizes as the hatches become more prolific. In the midst of a strong hatch there is no reason they will take your fly out of the hundreds on the water if they are all identical. So consider putting on something just a little larger or a slightly different color which may catch the fish's eye. They will also inspect flies more closely and will refuse anything which is not presented well. In the evenings and after dark there are a lot of caddis such as the pumpkin caddis flying about as well on the warmer evenings. 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. And more than ever be well dressed as a bright hot day can turn cold and uncomfortable very quickly with cloud cover and a little rain.
With the cooler weather and the rain the BWO's hatched well and the fishing was good. However there was not sufficient rain to make a significant change in the flow or the quality of the water. Caddis pupae fished down also worked well.
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. Most all of the float traffic now is below Carbondale so it you are going to float that stretch of the Fork, try and choose a time when most of the traffic has gone ahead and take your time.
Recommended Flies:Above Carbondale use the same flies as the Pan except for green drakes (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. On the other hand the recent cloudy wet days have been great for the BWO hatches. 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 Colorado is a little clearer making for some reasonable fishing.
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.