Another week which started out reasonably in terms of the weather and ended with a lot of snow, cold and rain. Thursday evening we saw a lot of snow blow in overnight leaving close to 12inches on the ground. Saturday and Sunday both saw snow as well. By Sunday evening it was beginning to blow through and was clearing with a forecast for clear warmer weather into the coming week.
The Bureau raised the Pan on Saturday to 110cfs. It was the first increase of the season. The increase slowed down the fishing on Saturday, but by Sunday the effects had worn off and the fish were feeding again. The cold weather has slowed down the Fork to the point where it is now running at less than a week ago. This has really improved the color and enabled good fishing all the way to the Colorado. The good water conditions will persist for a day or so. But with the temperatures expected to move back into the 60's in a few days and all this fresh wet snow, one would expect the flows in the Fork to pick up quickly. So for a few days expect good fishing in the Fork until the end of the coming week when, all things being equal, the flows will pick and it will start to color up again.
The cold weather slowed down the activity in the valley during the week. But by Sunday, a few fishermen got out onto the river and were enjoying some good fishing. I caught up with Andres and he kindly let us download his camera. He has had a great winter and has some excellent photos. Have a look at 4 of his fish in the photos section. We will put up a few more photos from him over the next few weeks. These first photos are from late December and February and are just a few of the better ones.
So in the coming week expect things to warm up a little from the 30s to the low sixties. The recent snow will melt quickly and by Friday, one would expect the melt to be back underway and we will be back on schedule.
Current Flow: below the Dam 113cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
Although the first few days of the week were pleasant, by Wednesday another change was coming in and it was evident in the strong winds which blew along the Pan. It knocked down a lot of trees and branches in its wake and made dry fly fishing exceedingly difficult as the gusts blew the emerging bugs off the water as the fish tried to feed on them. That evening in came some cold weather which brought with it a lot of snow. The conditions persisted through the weekend so that on Sunday morning one awoke to an additional 6inches of snow on the ground. But it was very wet and melted quickly except where it collected in the shade. But a few days of warm weather and it will be gone. With the expectation of temperatures in the 60's by the weeks end one would expect the melt to resume and the flows in the tributaries to pick up again.
On Saturday the Bureau lifted the releases so that by mid-morning the Pan was flowing at 113cfs. It slowed things down for the day and some material and debris were washed downstream. But by Sunday the flow had settled down and the fish were back feeding. Despite the snow and cold weather the dry fly action on the Pan was excellent. With both midges and BWOs coming off, the fish took small midges and BWO patterns. Parachute Adams #22 worked particularly well as did olive parachute duns #20 and #22 where the BWO's were coming off. There were quite a few fishermen spread along the river by mid afternoon as in the end the hint of clearing weather brought them out for at least the afternoon.The coming week should see some excellent fishing with the weather pattern settling down to clear and cloudy with the temperatures moving back to the 60's. The fish will be due for a good meal and the higher water will permit them to move about a little more.
Recommended Flies: The longer days are beginning to be noticed as the sun stays above the high surrounding peaks a little longer each day. If the sun is out try and stay in the light. But if it is heavy and overcast it makes little difference.
There are mostly midge hatches but a few BWO's are starting to come off. The fish will take tiny baetis nymphs like tiny pheasant tails if they see them enough. So try small black and olive patterns #24 and #26 as well as brassies to get them down. The fish are also taking BWO emergers now, so use the FPA baetis emergers, the sparkle baetis, rs2's and other small emerger patterns.
The midges will come off during the day, particularly if it is sunny. So try WD-40's #20, red and black chironocones #20, brassies #18 - #22, midge larva patterns #18 - #22, copper johns #18 - #22, black polywings #18 - #22 and garcia's rojo midges # 18 - #22. Mike reported great success this week on smaller black midges such as the miracle midge.
As they come off try the gray loopwing emergers #20 - #22, the FPA special emergers, biot emergers both with and without the trailing shuck and gray RS2's #18 - #22. In addition try 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, loopwing emergers #20 - #22 and FPA special emergers #20 - #26.
After the variability in the Fork last week, the flows have ended up lower than a week ago with the onset of cold weather, snow at the higher elevations and freezing overnight temperatures. The consequence has been a clearer Fork with excellent fishing. Before the cold set in, both Ed and Cameron were commenting on the caddis which were coming off on both the lower Fork and the Colorado. But by the end of the week, the cold had put the caddis off completely and winter conditions moved in, snow gathered on the edges and the water cleared.The clear conditions should persist for a day or so but as soon as it gets warm enough to melt off the latest snow, one would expect the melt to recommence with a vengeance and all of that snow which fell on the higher elevations in the Crystal Valley will bring mud and color pouring into the Fork at Carbondale. So for the moment, the conditions will be good, but within a day or so, assuming that the weatherman is accurate, the only good fishing on the Fork will be above Basalt. So if you are coming up in a few days and the weather has cleared give the shop a call and get a report of the latest conditions. Once overnight conditions remain above freezing, the melt will start quickly.
Recommended Flies: The midges are getting more prolific and larger as we approach spring. In addition to midges, the stone fly nymphs are starting to move about in the water. Beatis are also moving about as well and coming off intermittently. The most reliable results now will be nymphing with eggs, princes, midge emergers, hare's ears, 20 inchers and other attractor patterns.
Mike and Cameron caught fish on the Colorado over the weekend and the cold temperatures and the slow in the flow from the Fork helped reduce the color and made for some good fishing. Few fishermen had been out so the conditions were good. But given that the Fork will start rising again after a few days of warm weather, unless you are planning to fish the Colorado on Monday or Tuesday, it would be expected that the conditions will deteriorate by mid to later in the week and your best course is to just come up to Basalt and fish the Fork or the Pan. If you are coming up later in the week call the shop and get a report. Another source of information now is on Facebook where Cameron is looking after the Frying Pan Anglers page. You can ask him conditions in the Colorado because he lives along it now and sees it every day.
Recommended Flies: eggs, attractors, stonefly nymphs, baetis nymphs and midges.