We experienced some more rain this week. Quite a bit more. The most dramatic consequence was a mud and rock slide on the Glenwood side of the Highway 82 and 133 intersection at Carbondale. In addition highway 133 was closed in places and the Crystal blew out. We also had some color in the lower section of the Frying Pan for a short period while Snowmass Creek also colored up the Fork through Basalt. But now, everything around Basalt is clear again. The Fork has come down and cleared above Carbondale. The Pan is pristine and the flow remains consistent although the graph appears to indicate an adjustment. The change was actually an adjustment to the gauging station to realign the measuring device.
After momentarily spiking back up close to 900cfs on Friday the Fork has settled back to mid 600's at Basalt and will continue to settle.
As the families return home to coincide with the return to school, we are expecting the numbers on the rivers to begin to fall. This marks the end of the summer holidays for most families with children and thereby moderately changes the complexion of the fishermen in the area. We remain exceedingly busy but there is a noticeable evolution as the families are replaced by those who come to fish when the weather is not so hot, when the rivers are settling at lower levels and shortly, when the colors begin to change.
The days start out beautifully clear but as the they progress there is an inevitable cloud build up which may result in an overcast period in the afternoon at best, or a possible shower or storm in the early evening.
The fishing remains excellent with the consensus that we are reaching the peak of the drakes on the Pan towards the dam now. Reports of drakes coming off in prolific numbers with some specimens reported as large as #10. This will persist for a short period and then wane as we move into September. But the higher flows of colder water this summer have certainly served to extend the period of the hatch and the time for the fishing of big dries to fish feeding to these hatches.
Our friend Davide Fiorani spent 10 days with us. Davide is a master dry fly casting instructor in Italy and a truly masterful fishermen. He shared a number of photos with us which you might enjoy. He only fishes with a single dry fly and prefers the Fork. He also has a great eye for the photographic angles as you can see.
So if you are considering coming up, the traffic on the rivers will abate from this point on. In fact, the Fork remains remarkably empty of traffic in most places except where fishermen can fish 50ft from their cars. This photo was one of many taken this past week on the Fork evidencing the dearth of crowds. If you have not visited our area before, give us a call at your convenience or drop by the shop and we will gladly point you in the direction of good fishing and little traffic.
Current Flow: below the Dam 328cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
The flows in the Pan have remained consistent with the movement in the graph attributable to an adjustment in the measurements at the gauging station. There were many reports this week of excellent fishing with the drake hatches reaching their zenith near the dam. The higher releases of colder water have served to extend the period of the hatch giving anglers an excellent opportunity to experience myriad fish rising to drakes coming off the water. Apart from drakes, there have been great PMD and BWO hatches as well as the ubiquitous midge hatches. Though the wet summer seems to have kept the hoppers down there are a lot of cinnamon ants flying about mid river.
Most of the drake hatches are now occurring in the upper section towards the dam. There are only a few stragglers coming off lower down. So the best dry fly activity will be found closer to the dam at the moment. The higher flows together with the contribution from the various tributaries means the lower down the Pan the more turbulent the water and the less chance for a strong hatch to be fished with dries. The exceptions are where one can find a calmer section through which the insects can drift relatively easily. But the fish will still take dries in the pocket water or along the edges with accurate presentation.
Today for example mid river, in a calmer section the dry fly fishing was excellent with the fish taking BWO's, PMD's and midges. The flies which worked best were small gray Lawsons no hackle and olive parachutes. A few drakes came off but the fish showed scant interest in dry drake patterns. In the more turbulent water the fish fed sub-sufrace not bothering to take dries floating overhead.The weather in the coming week will continue its present pattern of clear mornings with clouds in the afternoons and possible rain.
Recommended Flies: There are now midges, PMD's Caddis and BWO hatches to choose from. The drakes are coming off up most of the way up now.
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.
Thsere are also ants flying around but the wet weather has kept the hoppers in check. So try terrestrials like ant patterns and crane flies.
The Fork lifted this week with a big storm which spiked the flow up to close to 900cfs on Friday at Basalt. Just as quickly the peak passed and now the Fork is settling back to the lower 600s which is still a little elevated over last week. But the water is clear higher up. The mud slides along 133 and 82 near Carbondale rendered the Fork unfishable down below that area. With the Colorado remaining a sea of mud and a report that the water is muddy at State Bridge, the prospects are that fishing will be confined to the area above Carbondale and floating will be from Basalt to Carbondale.
I fished for a while on Saturday towards Aspen as was surprised to see a raft with three fishermen floating through. The water level would have dictated a lot of dragging and walking just a little lower down. Brave intrepid souls. Ed reported that the floating from Basalt was good and the numbers of trailers indicated that the general consensus was that rafting from Basalt was the way to go. Depending on how bad the Crystal mudslides are, this may persist for a while.If you are coming up later in the week, check the weather and give the shop a call so that we can give you an uptodate assessment of the prospects of the lower Fork. There is no point stopping there if the water is off color given the pristine conditions which exist higher up.
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.
If you are floating try streamers, particularly heavier flies with enough weight to get down quickly.
The Colorado was a veritable sea of mud during the past week. A visitor in the shop yesterday reported that even as high as State Bridge the upper Colorado was unfishable. So this condition will persist for a while. There was one day during the past week when it appeared to get close to fishable. But the late week storm and continuing rain put paid to that aspiration. So if you are coming up just turn on to Highway 82 and come up to Basalt. If, later in the week you can see that the Crystal is contributing less color, the fishing may improve in the lower Fork. But ring us at the shop and we can give you an up to date report.