Tuesday July 20th - The Bureau has raised the Pan to 256cfs. This will push up the Fork a little from Basalt which will stabilize the flow. The Pan at 256cfs will be ideal as it will afford the fish a little more protection in deeper water but it won't interfere too much with the ability to wade. Overall a very nice level.
A very hot week. For several days the temperatures below Carbondale exceeded 100degrees while in Basalt it was in the mid nineties. Thankfully a cool change blew in late Sunday afternoon along the Pan bringing quite a shower for a short period. It was enough to put the fish down for a while and cool off the temperature quickly. But it didn't last too long and within an hour the clouds blew through and it was hot again.
The forecast over the next 10 days is for weather similar to Sunday. Hot weather with the chance of thunderstorms and rain. This is typical weather for this time of year and the rain in the afternoon cools things nicely enough to give one an hour or so off before getting back out onto the river into the evening.
This past week saw the rivers coming down further however the Pan remained constant at 164cfs. The Fork dropped below 600cfs on Sunday and doesn't appear to be slowing its rate of fall. It has to slow sometime. It is now very accessible to wade traffic and at this rate will probably limit float traffic above Basalt within the next few weeks.
Ed has a favorite saying. When I ask how his trip went, he says "We put the smackdown on them." Well this week Ed, Mike and Cameron really put the "smackdown" on the fish on the Colorado. And the boys have obliged by providing a massive number of photos as evidence. We could only post a few of them along with a few from wade trips. There can be no doubt of the premier quality of our fishery in the country. This week is but a modest example.
We are seeing a lot of visitors along the Pan now as we start into the heaviest traffic of the year. Most tend to congregate in obvious spots but there is still plenty of access if one has a mind to walk a little or fish closer to town.
The Fork is always remarkably under fished this time of year. I floated from Basalt to Catherine's store bridge yesterday and stopped to fish a lot of the accessible holes along the way. In that time I only saw 3 rafts and a single spin fishermen. There is so much unfished water if one is prepared to walk a little. If you are coming up and are unfamiliar with the area, drop by the shop and we will gladly point you to a lot of great water which will require a modicum of effort and thereby exclude the vast majority of fishermen who need to be able to watch their cars as they fish. As it gets lower and the float traffic gets more sparse there will be plenty of areas which will hardly see a fishermen in days, because so few people consider taking a walk.
Current Flow: below the Dam 164cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
With the water consistently at 164cfs all week the fish are now in a rhythm. The drakes have passed midway and are coming off nicely. The fish are now happily taking dries during the day and into the evening. The hatches are excellent ranging from red quills, midges, pmds, bwo's, drakes to caddis so take your pick. During the week the fish took a variety of dries from grizzly wulffs #14, comparadun pmds #16 and #18 adams #14 - #20, yellow no hackles #14, and a variety of drakes from the wulff patterns through to the hairwing dun. They even took ausable wulff's #14.
If one is given to nymphing during such hatches, bwo and pmd emergers will work well. The bubble back, rs2's, the fpa sparkle baetis and emerging baetis patterns are all very reliable.The coming week should seek more excellent fishing with the chance of afternoon showers bringing a little cloud cover and some rain to cool things off. The hatches start in the morning and proceed all day into the evening. This is the time of year that the Pan is represented in all of its finery. And despite the reputation for getting too crowded, its actually not true. It will certainly gather crowds at some places such as the dam and the 4 mile mark but generally there are plenty of places where there will be only one or maybe 2 cars pulled over accessing a lot of water which is public. So if you are coming up, drop by the shop and we will point you in the right direction.
Recommended Flies: There are now midges, PMD's Caddis and BWO hatches to choose from. The drakes are coming off up past the 7 mile mark.
There is a morning and an evening PMD hatch. Currently the fish are taking emergers #16 and #18 fished down. Try Barrs emergers, the bubbleback, and the FPA PMD beadtail emergers. In addition try the comparadun pmd, the grizzly wulff and the fpa special pmd emerger.
For caddis try the elk hair #14 and #16 olive as well as emergers.
For baetis, the fish will take tiny baetis nymphs like tiny pheasant tails. So try small black and olive patterns #18 - #22 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 for dry fly activity try adams, extended bodies, matthews and parachute adams. Lighter colored bodies such as the grizzly wulff will also serve as PMD 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.
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.
For drakes, try the straw wing emerger #12 and when the fish are rising to the natural try the hairwing dun, the wulff patterns and the flavilinea. We have nearly 400 drake patterns in the shop so there should be something no-one else has tried that day.
The Fork continues to fall and make wading more accessible by the day. Above Basalt it is dropping so quickly, that shortly there will be little float traffic. Even from Basalt at 570cfs, the river has changed so much and pushed about the material so that it is getting skinny in places at this early stage of the season. It is fine in a single or a lighter craft but soon it will require some work in some places. The run-off has done a remarkable job of cleaning out the last of the mud from the seven castles slide some years ago and now the river bottom is exceedingly clear. Many log jams have also been moved and in places the river has braided so that it is necessary to take a different path compared with the past.
Yesterday, despite a good BWO hatch all day, there were hardly any fish rising and it was necessary to fish deep down with rs2's and sparkle baetis patterns. It seems that the rate at which the river is dropping has got the fish a little confused at the moment as they figure out where the better feeding lanes are as well as protection in the newly created bottom. After the massive peak just 6 weeks ago the river has been dropping rapidly so that now a fall from 900cfs to 570cfs in just 8 days, has to be unsettling for the fish. One would expect it to settle out very soon, and when it does, and the fish get into a rhythm it should be excellent.Below Carbondale the floating armada will start shortly as the floaters get into their traditional rhythm of setting off at the same time and proceeding down to Glenwood. If you aren't the lead boat or two, it is a nice sightseeing trip but that's it. So if you want to float try and pick your time to avoid the rush. Better still, consider rafting from higher up. Drop by the shop at Basalt on your way through and we will give you an uptodate assessment of the better places to consider putting in. This year will be particularly interesting with the runoff dropping off so fast. Higher up will be hard to negotiate and the water may warm up too much on the Colorado. Time will tell.
Recommended Flies: Try baetis, midges and PMD nymphs in the morning. In addition in quieter areas where there are a lot of midges coming off, try black and gray midge emergers. Try small baetis nymph patterns such as pheasant tails #18 - #24. Baetis emergers try RS2, the crystal hunchback, juju baetis, the mighty mite, icebreakers and the FPA sparkle baetis - #18 - #24.
As the day progresses in the faster water try caddis emergers and dries with baetis and PMD emergers. Try Barrs emergers, the bubbleback, and the FPA PMD beadtail emergers.
In the evenings try big stimulators and drake dries as the drake hatch comes off. The drake hatch continues to move up river. So take dries and emergers along as well as drake nymph patterns.
If you are floating try streamers, particularly heavier flies with enough weight to get down quickly.
The Colorado continues to fish well however over the last few days the very hot weather has slowed things down in the afternoon for an hour or so. If the forecast for rain and thunderstorms is reliable, some cloud cover will help immensely in the mid afternoon.
As noted in the introductory comments, the fishing on the Colorado this week was excellent and Ed, Mike and Cameron having provided ample evidence in the photo section. The best fishing results are from nymphing down deep although there is some dry fly activity along the banks.Cameron and Mike floated from Grizzly yesterday and reported a lot of rafters putting in as well. One boat from a rafting outfitter crashed into Cameron and his clients and nearly caused a serious event. The rafting guide thought it was funny. This is the sort of occurrence which give rafters a bad name and jeopardizes floating on Colorado waters. It takes just one cretin to bring about an incident which has a lasting impact. No professional rafting company should engage such individuals until they grow up. The event has been noted and will be followed up this week.
Recommended Flies: The best result will be from nymphing although the evenings have been affording some nice dry fly activity. For nymphs try baetis and pmd nymphs as well as stones. In addition with the yellow sallies, try smaller stone nymphs. Interestingly a lot of crane flies have been flying around earlier than usual so terrestrials should be considered if the weather remains hot dry and windy.