We experienced a variety of weather this week finishing with a cold and clear Sunday. During the middle of the week we had 2 days of snow and sleet and temperatures below freezing. The benefit of the cold snap is that it has slowed down the run-off a little and cleared the Fork somewhat. During the week the Fork flowed up to 475cfs but at the moment it has dropped below the flow it recorded a week ago. This weekend skiing finished on Buttermilk and Highlands leaving only 2 weeks for Ajax and Snowmass.
Today some of the tributaries along the Pan were flowing just a little faster as the snow and rain over the last few days fed the creeks. The flow was not strong and the water was clear. The coming week will have unsettled weather as well with some chance of snow or rain depending on where the temperatures reaches. With the passing of most of the spring breaks for the schools, the crowds are clearing and there are a few less fishermen on the river. As the skiing finishes many of the locals will leave town for a break so it will be quiet and an excellent time to get on the river during the week.
Current Flow: below the Dam - 138cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
The water conditions are excellent and there has been great fishing the full length of the Pan over the past week. The midges are prolific and the baetis are starting to come off a little towards the dam. The larger fish have moved out of the deeper holes with the arrival of the warmer weather and are getting a little more active although they are still preferring the slower deeper water rather than the riffles. The principal food source at the moment is still midges and therefore the fish are still a little quiet when taking them. So it is still a matter of going carefully and spotting the fish as they feed in the deeper water or sipping them from the surface. Generally the fish are still laying low but the smaller ones are a little more active than the larger fish. Today they took a variety of midge patterns including the palaminos and garcia's rojo midges, but the most successful pattern was the chironocone. A couple of fish also took the FPA sparkle baetis #20.
Recommended Flies: In the bright light the fish can easily be spotted in the deeper slower water. Look in the seams as the fish are preferring the slower water to conserve energy but are feeding on the edge of the faster water as the midges are washed by. They are also in the slower pools taking them off the surface when the adult midges float by. Fish midges deep and then if they start coming off fish closer to the surface with emergers when the fish start rising in the water column. Watch until they are poking their heads out of the water to take the midges off the surface before switching to dry patterns. When the fish are taking midges they won't move much to take them so fish as accurately as possible to ensure that the fly drifts down or up to the level of the feeding fish. It is imperative that one fishes right to the fish, so continually vary your weights. Try WD-40's #20 , red and black chironocones #20, brassie's #18 - #22, midge larva patterns #18 - #22 and garcia's rojo midges # 18 - #22. When the fish are taking midges off the surface, try and identify the size of the midges floating by and match the size. Carry a range of emergers both black and gray, some with a trailing shuck. Also carry dry patterns such as the z-wing real midge, suspended midge and any similar dry black and gray patterns in sizes from #20 through to #26.The baetis nymphs are beginning to move about in the water so try a nymph down deep with a midge for variety. Try a small FPA sparkle baetis or a pheasant tail. Try sizes #18 - #22. In addition, there have been a few reports of BWO's hatching towards the dam. So take along a few dry patterns as well just in case.
During the week the flow in the Fork jumped up to about 475cfs following the warm weather. However thankfully with the arrival of the cold weather and snow later in the week the flow has slowed down nicely so it is now actually less than it was a week ago and the water color is excellent above Carbondale. Of course, the Crystal keeps dumping color in below Carbondale so that it remains off color and not a destination of choice given the near perfect conditions higher up. With the coming colder weather in the coming week the conditions should stay excellent however call ahead if you are coming out because one thing that is certain here is there is no telling what the weather will be in a day or so.
Recommended Flies: Use the same flies as the Pan. In addition use streamers, stone flies such as the 20 incher and golden stones, san juan worms and egg patterns. Generally try midges. Try larva and pupa patterns until the fish are moving under the surface then try emergers.
The Colorado is now dirty so long as the Crystal continues to put color into the Fork at Carbondale. So it you are in the area, make the journey up valley to at least Basalt to experience the difference in water color.
Recommended Flies: midges, larva, pupae, dries and emergers; bwo's both nymphs emergers and dries; 20 inchers size #10 - #14; streamers #6 and #8 and smaller and try egg patterns.