Thursday 23rd September. As anticipated the Bureau has dropped the flow again so that the Pan is now running at 213cfs.
The colors have begun to turn. As the days shorten and the sun sits a little lower the sunlight traveling through more atmosphere seems to deepen the hues and intensities of the mornings and the evenings. As one sits by the pond catching the last rays of direct sun before it drops below the distant peaks the midges fill the air. The fish feed on them as they emerge. Three ducks swim aimlessly across the surface. And in the changing colors the first of the vivid autumnal shades are obvious. There is a chill in the air as the sun drops. Autumn is here.
This week the Bureau reduced the flow at the request of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Actually they are running low on their allocation, so the 50cfs drop last Wednesday will be followed, in all likelihood, by another 50cfs drop this week and thereafter until they have used up all of their water. Given that at 324cfs the Service was drawing 200cfs, unless anyone else calls for water it is conceivable that the flow will be in the mid 100's in a few weeks.
With the flow currently at 278cfs the fishing conditions are perfect. Gary and Matt saw brown drakes coming off this week. There should be some drakes for a little longer. It has been a truly exceptional year for dry fly fishing and with drakes coming off through September, that will cap it off nicely.
Of course the lower releases will reduce the flow in the Fork from Basalt, so the last of the floating from Basalt, except for those hardy souls who like to drag rafts across shallows, will be done very soon. Currently 435cfs is a debate, but if the anticipated reduction from Ruedi occurs mid week, it will be closer to 380cfs next weekend. The only caveat is the possibility of rain. But currently the forecast is essentially for clear weather for the next week.
We remain relatively busy with fishermen enjoying the changing season and excellent dry fly fishing. The Colorado has also been fishing very well and this week we have some great photos from Gary and Mike evidencing the ongoing quality of those fish.
So as the autumn arrives and the larger fly hatches abate, the fish will turn to the last of the PMD's and the BWOs and midges. We have some of the best dry fly activity coming up, if that is possible to believe.
Current Flow: below the Dam 278cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
With the Bureau having dropped the flow to 278cfs midweek, it is a reasonable expectation that the releases will drop by another 50cfs this coming Wednesday. Of course nothing is certain, but that seems to be the intention. As the level drops the last of the drakes will come off and wading will be a little easier. The big fish which have moved to the edges will move back to the deeper water after they have been disturbed a few times. They won't have the larger flies in abundance so attention will turn to the BWO's and midges.
As the releases fall, the water will settle closer to town opening up more river to some quiet pocket water dry fly fishing. This is a great time of year to be out on the river. The fish sense the passing of the season and will be feeding more aggressively as the browns feel the oncoming spawn. Already some of the browns are showing their colors a little and are quite active expending energy on the pond.
With the prediction of clear weather for the next week, the better dry fly activity will be in the shade or along the edges where the fish won't feel so vulnerable in the bright light. It should be another great week.
Recommended Flies: There are now midges, PMD's Caddis and BWO hatches to choose from. The drakes are still coming off up closer to the dam but they are well passed their peak. There were smaller brown drakes this week.
There is still 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.
There are still a few caddis about. Try the October caddis patterns.
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.
As the larger fly hatches abate the primary interest will be in BWO's and midges through to winter.
With the releases from Ruedi falling the level of the Fork from Basalt will continue to fall making floating in anything but a light raft, just an idea or a fervent hope. The condition of the water in the Fork is excellent and as we approach the spawn the aggressive browns will start chasing streamers from the banks. In the lower water it is a fun time of the year to hit the banks with such flies and see big browns appear from nowhere.
The wading conditions are excellent and the lower water will make more of the river accessible. The floating is confined to the lower sections of the Fork now so it is a matter of picking your time unless you are not fussed about being part of an armada.
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.
If you are floating try streamers, particularly heavier flies with enough weight to get down quickly.
The Colorado remains in great condition. It is currently the preferred destination for Ed, Cam, Mike and Gary for their float trips. The preferable method is nymphing deep down with small nymphs and stones. Have a look at some of the photos from this passed week.