This week saw a noticeable change in the colors of the foliage. The cold has accelerated the fall variations over the last couple of days. The cold was accompanied by rain and some snow on the highest peaks. There are a few leaves in the water now as they begin to fall in the gusts of wind. Autumn is definitely here. The colder weather and rain precipitated some excellent bwo hatches in the afternoons. It is certainly weather which demands consideration when dressing. Overnight on Friday we were graced with some snow above 8000 feet so that it was cold on Saturday morning, wet and windy. Although the afternoon brightened considerably, the day remained cold. The effect of the rain over the last few days was noticeable in the Fork where the flow at Basalt had increased by almost 80cfs between Thursday and Saturday. The rain on Saturday morning will guarantee the flow will continue higher for a day or so although the highest flows have passed.
Sunday morning was bright and clear with a heavy frost. By mid-afternoon it had clouded over and a few flakes of snow fell. By 6pm it was still cold but it was bright and sunny. Typical mountain weather. This week promises to be a little warmer and clearer until Thursday when the weatherman is calling for more rain and cold with the possibility of a little more snow.
The number of visitors are noticeably thinning out although we have been busy over the last week and it promises to be equally busy for a little longer. The fish are healthy and feeding well, so the next few weeks hold the promise of excellent fishing.
Lexie, our 2 year old daughter loves to land fish when I hook them. This week we got some photos of her helping me out. Nothing like starting young.
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. The drakes continue to come off up high towards the Dam. 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 and emergers through the shallow rougher water with little weight also works well. Try pheasant tails, sparkle baetis and icebreaker patterns. Gray loopwing emergers fished under the surface in the faster water are also working. On Friday for example, the wet cold weather brought on the hatch a little later in the afternoon. The fish took icebreakers #18 and red brassies #20 before the hatch started. Then during the hatch they took parachute adams #24, rs2's and PMD emergers. The gray rs2 #20 was the most productive fly for the day.
When the fish are on the PMDs try emerger patterns as dropper to an emerger on the surface. On Saturday a cold wet morning greeted fishermen who ventured out early. But by mid-morning it had started to clear so that by the afternoon there was some blue sky and a great BWO and PMD hatch. The fish took a variety of flies but the most productive was a PMD special emerger #18 with bead head barrs emerger #18 and #20 as a dropper. They took other flies such as a beadtail bwo#18 as well. Despite the fact that it appeared that there was an equal number of PMD's and BWO's hatch at any one time, the fish keyed in on the PMDs from mid to late afternoon.
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 now as the crowd thins out. 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 and don't make any assumptions if you are greeted with a bright clear blue sky in the morning.
Recommended Flies: With the water level at 231cfs, it 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 a few caddis in the evenings when it is not too cold. Given the range of options the fish are likely to chop and change as they feed. So if one pattern is not working don't waste too much time. 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.
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.
The later rain during the week and Saturday has pushed up the flow in the Fork so that floating from Basalt at 445cfs is still possible with a little work. But for most purposes, float traffic is now concentrated below Carbondale and into the Colorado. With the cooler weather and the rain the BWO's hatched well and the fishing was good. The rains blew out the creeks up the Crystal Valley coloring the Crystal and putting a little color in the Fork below Carbondale on Sunday morning.
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. Caddis pupae fished down also work well. 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. The recent cloudy wet days have been great for the BWO hatches.
Ed had some good floating on the Colorado this week with streamers. The water is clear and very fishable.
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.