Update: Friday 11th July. The temperature dropped quite markedly today and with it the inflow to Ruedi. The Reservoir is now full. Meredith is running in at the mid 500s at the moment and the reservoir is releasing about 750cfs so theoretically it should start to come down. There are other small tributaries flowing into the reservoir so the gap is actually smaller. But the sole question exercising the mind of the Bureau now is whether there will be any rain over the next few days. Accordingly if there is no rain tonight there is a chance they may reduce the flows tomorrow. If not and there is no rain tomorrow there is a bigger chance they will reduce the flows on Sunday. If the coming week sees little rain and the flows stay where they are, according to the Bureau there is every chance that by next week the flows will be back at the 300 - 400cfs range with the intention of seeking to drop it again in order to conserve as much water as possible.
What does all this mean? It is just a question of whether any significant rain falls. A few days of dry weather and the gap between the inflow and outflow will have to be reduced to maintain the level so that will set us up for great flows shortly for fishing. The fish will have spread out well now and be along the edges so when it comes down it will be fun hunting down the big ones.
And for completeness the Fork is now running around 3500cfs having dropped from 6000cfs in a little over a day. It seems pretty clear that the run-off peak has passed in the Fork but again, over the next day or so it is a function of rain.
Update: Thursday 10th July. Today was a little cooler with the temperatures in the mid 70's. In addition the wind died down. The next few days are predicted to get cooler with possible thundershowers and temperatures in the high 50's. Looking at the flows at Meredith which are currently around 750cfs and the releases running at 800cfs it is evident that the outflows are exceeding the inflows. The actual outflow is a little less than 800cfs because Rocky Fork makes up some of the flow. But the bottom line is that at the moment with Ruedi practically full the level is being slowly reduced. The question is what will happen tomorrow? But it does seem that the Bureau anticipates that if Ruedi does spill a little with the advent of cooler weather and the likelihood that the peak has passed, there is little chance that the releases will be increased. In fact they should be reduced quite quickly. The rate at which the melt proceeded surprised the Bureau very much. They are now concerned that by mid August the inflows will be barely a trickle which means that the outflows will have to be watched carefully to ensure that the minimum levels are left in Ruedi.
From a fishing viewpoint, it seems that in a day or so the releases will be reduced and thereafter will continue to be reduced to conserve as much water in Ruedi this year as possible. This is good news for fishermen and if the evidence that the peak is almost passed in the Roaring Fork as well is correct , the post run-off season may well start 2 or 3 weeks earlier than normal granting us a longer fishing season post run-off.
The bad news is that the fast runoff will mean that the snowpack has exhausted itself earlier than normal which means the freestones which rely on run-off will become lower and warmer earlier than usual. In other words we will have great fishing this year on the Pan and the Fork but lower down the Colorado might shut down earlier than usual. Time will tell.
Update: Wednesday 9th July. Up Up and UP. In order to get ahead of the flow the Bureau has increased the releases again today so that we are close to 800cfs. But according to the Bureau they just wanted to get ahead of the inflow for a day or two and then start to reduce by the weekend. If you look at the flow at Meredith on our links you can see that it appears that indeed the peak has passed and the flow is coming down. If that is so, it should drop quickly and provided it averages lower than the current flows on a daily basis the Bureau will be able to drop the releases.
Just to indicate how much the flow has exceeded expectations, the Bureau told me they have been pushing 1000cfs over to the front range at 10,000feet. Imagine how it would be without that coming out of the flows! To see further evidence that the peak has passed look at the flows in our links for the Roaring Fork at Basalt. You can see that yesterday was higher than today and the lows today indicate it is trending down. At least that it what it looks like.
So if it doesn't get any higher on the Pan, the flows, though big over the weekend should be clear. Cameron went up Rocky Fork today for a walk and said it was very clear. So from here it looks highly likely that we have just passed the peak.
Update: Tuesday 8th July. Trying to stay ahead of the flow the Bureau really jumped the releases today. Anticipated to be 100cfs by the end of the day the releases were closer to 600cfs. The latest word from the Bureau is that they have noticed a drop in the inflow and will therefore keep the releases at this level until reviewed again. There was a little cooler weather in the afternoon and a brief thunderstorm mid afternoon. The forecast if for it to get a little cooler over the next few days with some possible thunderstorms. We will watch to see if this brings the inflows down faster, but the heat over the past few days and the large layer of red dirt which blew over the higher elevations some weeks ago has made for a record melt at this time of year. The Fork was flowing at over 5500cfs at Basalt earlier today and is currently at 4280cfs. The previous recorded high at this time of year was 2990 in 2008 so that gives you an idea of just how dramatic this current melt has been.
Update: Monday 7th July. Well 24 hours and a burst of hot weather makes a difference! The pace at which Ruedi is filling has the Bureau worried. There is high wind as well as hot weather and no respite in sight. Consequently the Bureau raised the outflow by 100cfs today and will raise it again by another 100cfs tomorrow. They don't know what they will do on Wednesday yet but it is possible that they will keep raising the flow if the inflow keeps worrying them. Have a look at the flow at Meredith on our links page and you can appreciate what would happen if Ruedi was full and threatened to run over. The flow approached 2000cfs over the past 2 days near midnight. Ruedi has gone from 90% full to nearly 94% full in a little over a day according to the tables. That seem remarkably fast but you can appreciate why the Bureau is worried. The good news is that at least the runoff will be over fast if this keeps up. As another metric of the heat, look at the graph for the Fork at Basalt. In 24 hours the peak jumped from the high 3000's to over 5000cfs. The high water has claimed a victim and is keeping a lot of rafters out of the water.
After the burst of heat last week, the temperature dropped a little midweek and brought the flows down marginally. It afforded some excellent water conditions on the Frying Pan. In fact the Fork was quite nice on Wednesday as the level dropped enough to only be running over clean ground. But by the weekend, the hot weather returned in earnest. The Fork jumped to well over 3600cfs late on Saturday night. Currently it is running at 2810cfs but with the temperatures in the high 80's today, tomorrow it will be running even higher.
Rocky Fork had been dropping a little but the temperatures have brought the flows to over 30cfs bringing the Pan to 140cfs but it has not reached its earlier peak. The higher flow brought just a little color into the Pan on Sunday but it is nothing significant. The tributaries continue to run high with Taylor creek still putting a little color in on Sunday, but the water is very clean.
The forecast is for possible thunderstorms tonight but clear and hot for the next week. So the conditions should remain the same with the tributaries to the lower pan running lower as the snow at the lower elevations finally melts off. After that it is just a question of time before Ruedi fills up and the Bureau lets out water to keep the level under control. Currently Ruedi is 90% full.
So over the next several weeks the Pan will be in excellent condition. Just keep an eye on the level of Ruedi for an indication when the Bureau will increase the flow to around 300cfs.
Basalt marked the beginning of a Summer season with a free lunch and a large crowd. The Frying Pan was quite busy but not so busy as to not allow one plenty of access to untrafficked areas. We have the best water now for 100's of miles and will do so until the peak of the run-off has passed.
Current Flow: below the Dam 140cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
The hot weather of last weekend gave way to some more temperate days midweek which brought the flow in Rocky Fork down just enough to make the water pristine again. This persisted until this weekend when the hot temperatures arrived again and brought the flow back up. But it didn't get as high as it was a week ago which meant that although the water colored up just a little, it was clear of any debris and in great condition.
It was a matter of fishing down with a sparkle baetis or midge pattern. The lower down the Pan towards Basalt one traveled the greater the flow as the various tributaries really kicked in with the last of the snow at lower elevations melting off and adding to the stream. The weatherman predicts that the hot weather will persist for another week, so all things being equal by then one would expect the lower elevations to have cleared off well and the tributaries to slow down. Even at these levels though, the water is very clear with very little color making for excellent fishing conditions all the way to Basalt. With the water still flowing at these lower levels, the fish remain in the deeper pools and have not ventured to the edges much except in the shade. The hatches were not prolific over the weekend but there was enough to have the fish feeding lower down in the water column.This is the best water for fishing for 100's of miles.
Recommended Flies: There are both midge and BWO hatches to choose from now. For baetis, the fish will take tiny baetis nymphs like tiny pheasant tails. 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, so use the FPA baetis emergers, the sparkle baetis, rs2's and other small emerger patterns. In addition the fish have taken a few BWO dries so try olive bodied patterns #18 -#22 as well as Adams.
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.
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.
The Fork has really jumped and has hit close to 3600cfs over the past 2 days. That is another massive leap in the past week and for all intents and purposes it is not fishable until the river tops out and starts running over clean riparian areas. That will be a week or so away. So just come to the Pan over the next week.
The Colorado is not fishable. Don't bother stopping. Just turn onto Highway 82 and come up to Basalt.