Stop the Presses
A River re-made
Late on Sunday and early on Monday we had a serious downpour up the Frying Pan which caused a massive mudslide at 7 Castles Creek at mile marker 4. As a consequence the road was shut for some time until it was cleared. In addition, the mudslide was so massive that it has redirected the river at the corner just past the 4 mile marker. For those of you who remember the spot, it was a favourite pulloff for picnics, a rest and a little wading. It is now very different and here are some photos for an idea.
Looking up stream towards mile marker 4
A closer view of the corner in the river
looking further upstream. The river used to run down the middle of the picture.
The corner where the mud crossed
Looking downstream towards the corner. The pulloff is on the left
A closer view of the pulloff.
An even closer view. The edge of the river used to be just past the trees on the right. It is hard to see in this photo but the line of rocks and mud on the right through the trees has created a substanial wall. The river has been pushed further across into the trees on the other side on the left side of the picture.
Now back to the normal fishing report.
A week with very little rain to speak of has returned the rivers to their seasonal pristine conditions. The fishing has been excellent generally with both the Fork and Pan running at optimum levels for this time of year. At 260cfs the Pan has run unchanged for the past week while the Fork has been settling to currently be running at 584cfs at Basalt.
The lower levels in the Fork have cut down float traffic above Carbondale as the water gets shallower making harder work for larger rafts with 3 people. The Pan is exceedingly busy with cars at most pull-offs along the road.
The weather however does remain changeable and has cooled a little over the past 2 days, causing the evening hatches to slow a little. On Sunday there was a downpour for a while in the afternoon at Aspen and later towards evening we had some rain up the Frying Pan. The weather is forecast to remain the same with the possibillty of cloudy skies and a tropical downpour in the afternoons and evenings.
Gordo came fishing with me this past week. He didn't really want to bother the fish too much so he just tossed out a few big dry flies from time to time. After a while, he said "Mate, I don't know what's going on here, but there seems to be a big royal wulff hatch going on." He promptly changed to another pattern hoping not to disturb the fish anymore. He did take one lovely 16" rainbow and deigned to allow his photo to be taken. He caught it on a Gordo special caddis pattern. It is special because he said he struggled to ever tie the same fly twice. Consequently, like children, each one is special. His greatest success at tying flies materialized when friends started wearing his streamer patterns as ear-rings. They always insisted on 2 of the same color combination, and that was a challenge. But gradually they came to accept the originality of the designs - as do the fish from time to time.
Gordo with a nice 16" rainbow taken on a Gordo special caddis.
Gordo says he has never had a bad days fishing. Just the odd down day at catching.
Feel free to call us at the shop to get an update on the weather and the conditions if you are coming up.
For those who might be interested in booking the Taylor Creek Cabins we advise that we a fully booked for July and August and only have a few days left for September. October is also starting to get busy.
Current Flow: below the Dam - 260cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
Currently the Pan is running at 260cfs which is a good level for the fish, although a little difficult for wading in the narrower sections of the river if you are a little unsteady on your feet.
The was some excellent fishing over past week with the cloudy afternoons and the deeper water giving the fish more cover. The coming week promises much the same and in the event of a little rain that will bring on the BWO's in proliferation.
The fish are responding well to drakes, pmd's and BWO's and for variety midges in the quieter water. Use a combination of drakes, pmd's and BWO's.
Now we are in full swing on the Pan with the drakes as well as two hatches of PMD's a day. In addition, midges are coming off morning afternoon and evenings while BWO's will come off if there is any cloud cover, or on the bright days, in the shade. They will also come off in the evenings. There are caddis as well particularly in the evenings but they are not as dominant on the Pan as the Fork.
So with a full range of hatches throughout the day and into the evening, just be well stocked with flies and be prepared for the range of possible weather you might encounter.
For drakes try the dries, cripples emergers and the nymphs. Over the next month or so, there will be so many drakes offered to the fish on the Pan that they will become very selective. The solution will be a combination of good presentation and perhaps a pattern with a touch variation from the norm.
With PMD's coming off try emergers and dries. A barr's emerger or the FPA PMD emerger #18 work well. Also try the hunch back #18 and the #18 special emerger. Try fishing them behind orange stimulators. If the activity is a little slow during the day, try some nymphs down deeper.
For baetis t ry a small FPA sparkle baetis, a thorax sparkle baetis, the icebreaker or a pheasant tail before they start to rise. Try sizes #18 - #22. In addition, when the BWO's start coming off try RS2's and other emerger patterns behind a dry. It doesn't hurt to try the emergers behind the nymphs if the fish are staying down in the higher water. For dries, use parachute Adams, Matthews sparkle baetis, biot BWO, the extended body BWO and the grizzly Adams. Take sizes from #18 - #24.
Midges come off during the day and in the evenings so try WD-40's #20 , red and black chironocones #20, brassie's #18 - #22, midge larva patterns #18 - #22, black polywings #18 - #22 and garcia's rojo midges # 18 - #22. Try the gray loopwing emergers #20 - #22, the special emergers both with and without the trailing shuck and gray RS2's #18 - #22. 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.
There are some caddis coming off on the Pan so try emergers and dries towards evening. In the evenings or in the shade, the caddis will be coming down to the surface. Try the crawling caddis as well. During the heat of the day, try terrestrials such as hoppers close to the banks where they are undercut.
The improvement in the water quality of the Fork over the past week has been much in evidence with good fishing down to Glenwood. Even the Crystal has cleared up. So provided there are no downpours in the coming week the conditions should remain good. Just note that if there are reports of rain, be mindful that the Crystal might again start to interfere with good fishing below Carbondale. But if that eventuates check with the shop on the quality of the water higher up above Carbondale. Usually it gets better the higher one goes unless we have a lot of rain generally in the catchment.
Reports of floating have been excellent with fish being taken on pmd and baetis nymphs and emergers, streamers, caddis and hoppers. As the flow drops, the floating will be concentrated more below Carbondale unless one takes a raft. Rafts are more work, but they do enable one to access less trafficked areas and get into some excellent fishing.
There is excellent walk wading access available along the Fork and at this time of year it is ideal for those who are willing to put in a little effort to get away from the close in combat fishing on the Pan and find untrafficked areas on the Fork. Over the past 3 days floating on the Fork I doubt that I saw more than 10 fly fishermen and they were clustered either around the Catherine's store bridge within 200 yards of the public car park or just up from the Carbondale take out. There is a lot of other great public access and it really is worth one's while to get a map and some directions if one is unsure. Come by the shop and we will gladly point you in any number of directions.
Overall the best results on the Fork are from nymphing.
During the day use PMD and BWO nymphs and emergers behind hopper or stimulator patterns. If you are nymphing deep down, use plenty of weight in the fast running water and pick where the fish are a little protected behind structure or deeper down in the slower water.
In addition use caddis emergers as well. For variety put on a stone fly or a drake nymph during the day fished deep if things slow down.
In the afternoons and evenings there is a myriad of bugs coming off or in the air, yet the fish are still keeping low most of the time. So continue to use PMD and BWO nymphs and emergers. Use caddis pupa and emerger patterns as well as the caddis are prolific in the shade and towards evenings.
If you are willing to fish into the dark, the spinner fall will be worth the wait. So try rusty spinner patterns.
The drakes are finished higher up but the fish will still remember them. Also if floating try streamers for variety.
With the marked improved in the water quality in the Fork, the Colorado fishing quality has improved as well.
Recommended Flies: caddis dries and emergers, PMDs - nymphs emergers and dries; bwo's - nymphs emergers and dries; yellow sallies #16 - #18; 20 inchers size #10 - #14; streamers #6 and #8.