We trust that you had a safe and content Thanksgiving. The Roaring Fork Valley was treated to more snow and a few days of very cold temperatures. Any semblance of a continuation of the relatively mild spell was abruptly ended on Thanksgiving morning when the freezing temperatures descended. The snowfall to date has been excellent giving the mountains a 38" base for the opening of the ski season. It is a remarkable and noteworthy commencement to the ski year and is most welcome in the current economic climate.
The temperature has risen a little over the past few days but remains below freezing. There is a forecast for some more snow this evening and tomorrow. The cloud cover will preserve the temperature a little. But with anticipated clear and sunny skies during the coming week, temperatures will stay below freezing for most of the day. Towards next weekend there is a prediction of more snow with a projected modest rise in temperatures back to above freezing.
The weather has certainly kept most fishermen indoors with the additional cold and holidays providing a reasonable excuse. So it has been very quiet in town with few visitors.
On another note, the river access wars are beginning to heat up in Utah. A recently formed group known as the Utah Stream Access Coalition has filed a suit in the District Court in Wasatch County. Essentially a number of members of the Coalition have been prevented or denied access in varying degrees to the Provo River on the Victory Ranch and Larsen properties. The complaint essentially is challenging the constitutionality of the Public Waters Access Act which became law on May 11, 2010. That legislation attempted to wind back the decision of the Utah Supreme Court in Conatser v Johnson 194 P. 3d 897 (Utah 2008). We have discussed this decision on a number of occasions in our extensive discussion of the legalities of floating on Colorado Waters. The Utah Stream Access Coalition is a body of serious minded people who will push this issue.
We also have word that another incident has occurred in Colorado which will cause river access minded folk to shortly band together and concentrate their minds. As we predicted the Shaw property incident on the Taylor River early this year was but an ominous precursor of what is to come unless sensible minds prevail.
Current Flow: below the Dam 77cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
Winter arrived in no uncertain terms with a burst of very cold weather over the Thanksgiving holiday. The cold passed after a few days before it had time to create any anchor ice. But given that we have nearly 4 weeks until the shortest day, we are still enjoying just a enough direct sunlight on the river to generally keep it in good shape. However, where it is in the shade, the cold has set up ice already on the edges.
The fish are still modestly active mid river as they seem to sense that the cold has not yet arrived in earnest. Consequently they continue to feed when the the weather warms and the midges come off. The big fish are definitely getting up onto the redds now, particularly lower down. Even on the flats they can be seen moving up even though the fish have not shifted completely into their winter rhythm quite yet.
We will get some more clear skies and cold for a few days and then with the forecast for snow and cloud cover the temperatures are predicted to move above freezing towards the end of the week and into the coming weekend.So watch the weather and be prepared for winter fishing.
Recommended Flies: There are now midges and BWO hatches.
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. With the cold weather imminent, an extended period below freezing will shut off the baetis until late winter.
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 soon as the coldest weather arrives and ice forms along the banks it will be fishing near the dam until the days lengthen and the weather warms a little.
The prediction last week was accurate. The temperature plummetted towards the end of the week icing up the guaging station near Basalt. The cold has moved the big browns up onto the redds and started to build up ice along the edges of the flow. So now it is principally eggs and attractors.
Recommended Flies: The best results now are nymphing deep with eggs, attractors such a princes and hare's ears, worms and small baetis nymphs.
If you are floating try streamers, particularly heavier flies with enough weight to get down quickly.
The big browns are chasing streamers. But generally the best results are from fishing small nymphs eggs and attractors deep down. With the weather getting colder the fish will be picking the redds, and the quieter sections below.