Colorado Fishing Report

February 9th, 2016

The Colorado Angler Fly Fishing Report

 

Plan your next fishing trip knowing you’ll arrive without any surprises. Our professional fishing reports are updated weekly with stream and river flows, recommended flies, equipment, and special fishing tips for the most important fly-fishing destinations in Colorado. To see a detailed fishing report for a specific river, simply scroll below to read more specific information on a particular stretch of river. Make sure to check those out for your river of interest, as they will be able to answer questions pertaining to hatches and flies.

Understanding how fisheries change during the year, as well as how to approach them is key to growing an angler’s skill set. We hope you use this invaluable information to your advantage. Please feel free to call us at The Colorado Angler, at any time to discuss any questions and concerns you may have about the current conditions. Or stop by and see us in the Summit Place shopping center in Silverthorne, next to Blue Moon Bakery, Exit 205 on I-70, then south 1 block.

Call: Toll Free 855-CO TROUT (268-7688)

Spring Hours: Monday – Saturday 7 am – 6 pm, Sunday 8 am – 5 pm

 

Recent Update: February 9, 2016

 

A very angler-friendly weather forecast for the rest of the week and weekend, as sunshine returns to the entire state and temperatures are expected to rise to the low 30s to mid 50s.  With this warming trend comes a 1-2 punch of positive fishing developments.  First, and most noticeable, it is much more comfortable to hit the water with temperatures bordering on “spring-like” than the single digits to teens that we had been seeing just a few days ago.

Second, with these higher temperatures, we are seeing an increase in freestone options.  As temperatures rise, ice recedes reopening runs and pools that have been frozen over.  As well, water temperatures climb sparking both insect and trout activity.  In particular, the Arkansas, Eagle and Roaring Fork are starting to really offer some worth while destinations for anglers weary of the winter tailwater routine.

At this time of year it is important to adjust your thinking about freestone rivers and how you may approach them versus the rest of the year.  Unlike the summer months, when fish are sensitive to bright sun and heat, winter fishing actually benefits from direct sun.  Not only does it help initiate insect activity by raising temperatures enough to maybe produce a hatch, that warming of the water also helps spur trout movement as well, as overnight lows are still likely to cause a good bit of lethargy until that radiant warming occurs.

With that in mind, focus your efforts on the middle of the day to take advantage of peak activity for both insects and trout.  Conversely, flows are still low and clear so, with that high sun your movements are likely to be magnified.  Be deliberate and slow as you wade and move along the bank so as to not spook fish unnecessarily.

We are certainly not out of the woods for winter weather just yet but, we have seen the worst of river conditions.  As future storms roll through, they may temporarily impact freestone access due to cold and visibility but, it should be past the point where new shelf ice will form and restrict any channels that are currently open.

Detailed reports below will give more specific information on a particular stretch of river. Make sure to check those out for your river of interest, as they will be able to answer questions pertaining to hatches and flies.

Blue River Below Dillon Reservoir

Flow: 90 cfs.
Conditions: There appears to be no significant change to what has been solid winter fishing now that the sun has returned.  Although flows are low and clear, the actual release from the dam is above average for this time of year.  With that in mind, we recommend tippet at minimum of 5x, with 6x being ideal, Fluoro or mono based on angler preference.  Action has been solid on a wide range of nymphs including everything from the typical tailwater shrimp and midge imitations, as well as eggs and worms and even larger searching patterns.  Due to the stability of water temperatures coming from the dam, the time of day hasn’t mattered with regards to feeding.  That has been fairly steady throughout the day. However, early seems to be more productive until the wade traffic on the river starts to impact fish comfort.  As well, later in the day as angler numbers dwindle the fish regain a little bit of stability and resume feeding.  Including into the evening hours.  The biggest surprise for most anglers will be the potential for crowds.  Yes it is the dead of winter and temperatures at times have been downright brutal BUT, with limited options at this time of year, it only takes a few hardcore anglers with a jonez to fish to make the river seem overly crowded.  Throw in the fact that town has been on fire and there are some days where it is downright congested.  This is the point where we lobby for courtesy and etiquette to win out over self interest and ego.  Be patient and show your fellow angler a little courtesy by not crowding into water that may not support more than one angler. Take a look up or downstream and come back to that spot later in the day.  Or if you have time, venture out to some of the freestone options that are improving daily with the nice weather.

 

Town Flies: Stalcup’s Mysis, BTS Mysis or any other Mysis that you like, Desert Storm, Rainbow Warrior, Black Beauty, Brassie, UV Emerger, Biot Midge, Lil Spanker, Tungsten Psycho May-Black, Kingery’s Cap’n Hook, Tube Midge – Black or Red, RS-2 – Black or Dun, WD40 – Black or Chocolate, Two Bit Hooker, Zebra Midge, Otter Soft Milking Egg, Bead Eggs, Wooly Bugger Black or Olive, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Flossy Worn. And work in a streamer every once in a while, as well. Often over looked but, randomly deadly.


Blue River Below Green Mountain

Flow: 205 cfs.
Conditions:  Another decent winter option, with a couple of caveats.  First, it is colder in the canyon than just about anywhere else on the planet in the winter.  B.) Be very careful getting to the river from the parking area.  The phrase “slide for life” comes to mind.  If you are prepared for those two realities then you should be fine.  Not as steady of action down here as back up in Silverthorne but, a much more laid back scene. Nymph rigs with a good mix of Midge and Baetis patterns are the primary approach but, it is also a good bet to anchor those set-ups with some larger bugs or eggs.  Strong populations of Green Drake and PMD nymphs make those a potential all year.  As well, there are a couple of different Stoneflies present, which will molt throughout the year making them more available as they dislodge and drift.  5-6x tippet will cover most presentations and make sure to keep your weight sightly heavier than you think you need.  If you are not tapping bottom every 4 to 6 drifts you may need a little more.  We like to fish with a #10 – 14 imitation for the Drake or Stone on top and drop the smaller imitations for the Midge or Baetis behind that on 6x.  You can also substitute an egg for that lead fly.  At this level, crossing the river is not a problem.  Although, it is slick and a swim is not out of the question so, wade safe.

 

Flies: Big bead heads: Tungsten Split Case Green Drake, Hare’s Ear, Tungteaser, Pheasant Tail, Stubby Stone, Twenty Incher, Rubberlegs, Psycho Prince, Mr Peacock Ice, Flossy Worm. The Smaller Stuff: RS-2, Tung Psycho May, Split Case BWO, Barr’s BWO, Juju Baetis, Zebra Midge, Poison Tung, Winter Baetis, Black Beauty, Rojo Midge, Rainbow Warrior, Big Spanker, Otter Egg.

Floaters should note: The river volume on this stretch of water can change on an infrequent schedule and often. It is important to know the flow before you launch and make an honest assessment of your ability and watercraft capability. Please respect private property rights along the river. At 1,500 cfs the bridges are impassable. Under 500 become questionable for clearance of certain boats.


Colorado River Above Kremmling (Parshall)

Flow: 250 cfs. +/- @ Parshall (A guess, as the gauge is iced up)
Conditions:  Always a decent option in winter.  Now with an improvement in sun and temperatures, there will be added access as anchor ice and shelf ice have diminished.  With the annual deep freeze hitting the valley last month and flows being at seasonal lows, ice had closed in a little higher up on the public water than normal (starting at the bridge pool just below the kids pond parking area).  There has been some improvement over the past week but, we would caution anglers to expect flow ice in the early part of the day from the bridge down.  There have been days where the channel is open all the way down to Sunset Ranch, it is all temperature dependent.  We would also caution anglers to be careful of walking and standing on the shelf ice as they fish the channel, the warmer weather has made that unstable and it may break loose under your weight.  On the upper stretch of the Breeze access (as well as lower reaches on those nice days) we would recommend straight up nymph rigs with a two fly set-up.  Baetis and Midge imitations will be the majority of action but, we also like small Caddis and Stonefly imitations, as well.  6x tippet will be ideal and make sure to add weight accordingly throughout the day.  Early in the day expect long slow drifts in the classic winter holding water to be most productive.  Takes will be very subtle, as slow currents and slower fish will make almost no impact on indicators. As the temperature warms mid-day, there may be some increase in activity along seams and below riffles as fish move to feed on drifting nymphs.

 

Flies: Biot Midge, Barr’s Emerger, Magic Fly, Lil Spanker, Tungsten Hackled, Disco Midge, UV Emerger, RS-2, WD40, Tube Midge, Zebra Midge, Noon Midge, Pure Midge Larva-Pale Olive, Brassie, Buckskin #18-20, Pheasant Tail #18-22, Black Copper John #20-22


Colorado River Pumphouse to Dotsero

Flow: 525 cfs. @ Pumphouse
Conditions:  Ice.  Well, okay, there is some open water but, that is pretty few and far between.  And what is open will be butt-cold.  Not saying that there isn’t the slightest bit of potential to catch something, just saying that it is pretty slim.  Should start to break up mid- February but, generally it takes until late March – early April to consistently produce.  If you do decide to check it out, adequate 4 wheel drive is a must to access at Pumphouse, as there is no winter maintenance of the road between the Trough road and the river.

Flies: Pat’s Rubber Legs, BH Hares Ear, BH Prince etc


Colorado Below Glenwood Springs

Flow: 1,250 cfs.
Conditions:  Another decent winter option that gets overlooked.  It is big water and wading can be a tough endeavor the first time or two but, once you get dialed in on where to access and where the fish are holding, results can be solid.  This stretch consistently produces some of the nicest Rainbows on the Colorado River.  Tandem nymph rigs with a mix of Baetis and Midge imitations trailed behind mid-sized beaded searching patterns – like Tungteasers, Pheasant Tails, Hare’s Ears etc- can be productive.  And being farther down the drainage in the bigger water, tippet size jumps up to 4x and 5x.  Focus on the slower water just off of the deeper seams early, then move to the seams adjacent the current and deep pockets as the day warms up.  As with all winter nymphing make sure to have enough weight on to get you down to where the fish are sheltering. If you don’t tap the bottom every 4 to 6 drifts, make an adjustment to either your weight, depth or both.  Not only is this a good wade fishing destination, there is plenty of open water for float fishing, as well. South Canyon ramp is closed for the season but, Two Rivers, Tibbets, New Castle and Silt are all open.

 

Flies: Mr Peacock Ice, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Tungteaser, Bead Prince, Hot Wire Prince, Twenty Incher, Tungsten Pheasant Tail, Bead Hares Ear, San Juan Worm patterns, Zebra Midge, Lil Spanker, Tung Psycho May, Big Spanker, Rainbow Warrior, Magic Fly, RS-2


 

Arkansas River Above Buena Vista

Flow: 275 +/- cfs. @ Granite.
Conditions:  Mostly ice in the upper valley but, there is some open water in the stretch just below lake creek in Balltown.  It might be worth a go on a sunny day.  Tandem nymph rigs with a mix of Baetis, Midge and small searching patterns using 5-6x tippet.  Focus on the slow deep runs with quiet water off of the main channel.  Flows are above average at the moment due to and ongoing water transfer from Twin Lakes into the Arkansas.  This will help keep the open water stretch available a substantial distance downstream from the confluence than usual.  Anything above the confluence with Lake Creek will be locked up in ice.

 

Flies: Rainbow Warrior, Brassie, Zebra, Midge, Tung Psycho May, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Two bit Hooker, Beaded Hares Ear, Hot Wire Prince, Beaded Pheasant Tail, Copper John, CDC Hares Ear, Twenty Incher, Mr Peacock, Flossy Worm


Arkansas River Salida Area

Flow: 430 cfs. @ Salida
Conditions:  Robust winter flows at the moment due to an ongoing water transfer down the Arkansas.  This has helped to keep the river open for the most part this winter. Combine that with the fantastic weather this week of high sun and low 50s and you have a very positive freestone option.  Good access and action should be found from Stone Bridge well down into Big Horn Sheep Canyon.  Early in the day focus on the winter holding water adjacent to deeper seams where fish can hold up with limited energy.  As the day warms and fish move to feed adjust your efforts to the slow side of those seams or to the flats and runs at the bottom of riffles where fish may position to feed on drifting nymphs.  Tandem nymph rigs with a mix of beaded searching patterns and small stones trailing a mix of Baetis and Midge imitations will cover most of the food choices.  With the added volume you might be able to get away with 5x on your top fly but, we would drop to 6x for the trailer to improve your odds.

 

Flies: Beadhead Pheasant Tail, Beadhead Prince, Beadhead Hare’s Ear, Red or Chartreuse Copper John, Hot Wire Prince, Tungteaser, Tungstone, Biot Epoxyback Stone, Iron Sally, Psycho Prince, Duracell Jig, Zebra Midge, Poison Tung, Rainbow Warrior, Brassie, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Micro Mayfly, Split Case BWO, Magic Fly


Roaring Fork River at Glenwood Springs

Flow: 450 +/- cfs.
Conditions:  Another solid winter option for wade anglers.  Action has been consistent along the lower river in the Glenwood area, with moments of good fishing upstream towards Basalt.  Mid-day has been most productive with tandem nymph rigs, using 4 – 6x tippet.  As is typical with most freestones at this time of year, Baetis and Midges will comprise the majority of the activity but, we have been seeing some decent results on medium to larger searching nymphs, along with some Stonefly patterns.  With that in mind, anchor your set-up with one of those larger bugs and trail the Baetis and Midge stuff behind.  Early in the day look for fish to be sheltered in the quiet water with little to no current.  As the day warms and the sun hits the water look for fish to move to the slower water just off of seams and towards the tails of runs.  Once there are drifting nymphs those fish may move up towards the middle and even head of the run to feed on those active bugs.  This is a great early spring freestone that generally starts to get fairly productive as we move into early to mid-February and current indications are that it is on schedule.  The river itself is completely free of ice from Carbondale on down, with good access for wade, as well as committed float anglers.  Inflatables only, too low for the hard boats just yet.

 

Flies: Twenty Incher #12-14, Tungteaser #12-14, Beaded Pheasant Tail #12-14, Pat’s Rubber Legs #8-10, Beaded Hares Ear #12-14, Mr. Peacock, CDC Prince #12-16, Hot Wire Prince #12-16, Standard Pheasant Tail #18-20, Tung Psycho May, Rainbow Warrior Black or Red, Juju Baetis, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Duracell Jig, Root Beer Float, Biot Midge Zebra Midge


South Platte River, Middle Fork

Flow: 15 +/- cfs.
Conditions: Ice and snow have the river locked up until March at the earliest.

Flies:


South Platte, Dream Stream

Flow: 62 cfs.
Conditions:  Stable winter flows, low and clear.  Action has been fair, with the extreme cold and wind of the past few weeks limiting angler enthusiasm.  Always worth a look if you are in the neighborhood but, keep in mind how those South Park winds can whip up and leave you exposed.  Focus on the winter water with slower current that provide cover for fish.  6x is ideal and if you have it, 7x might help with presentation. Tandem nymph rigs with a mix of Baetis and Midge imitations.  Still a little early for the first big push of lake fish but, that should be right around the corner before the end of February.
Flies: Loop Wing Emerger, Pure Midge Larva Black or Pale Olive, Black, Red, Chartreuse Copper John, Juju Baetis, Buckskin, Caddis Larva, Hunchback Scud, Poxybiot Nymph, Desert Storm Chartreuse, Tube Midge, Poison Tung, Zebra Midge Black/Silver, Barr’s Emerger BWO, RS2, Poxybiot Nymph, Egg Patterns, Cap’n Hook, Disco Midge, San Juan Work variations


Williams Fork River Below Dam

Flow: 68 cfs.
Conditions:  A decent flow for mid-winter.  Action has been fair but, we hope for that to improve as temperatures warm this week.  Typical tailwater nymph imitations for Baetis and Midges on 6x tippet.  Focus on the classic “winter water” where fish have a chance to shelter from the majority of current, as well as predators. 

Flies: Poxy Biot Nymph, Buckskin, Flossy Worm, Little Brown Bug, Two Bit Hooker, Flash Back Pheasant Tail, Split Case BWO, Big Bear Baetis, Tungsten Psycho May BWO, Pure Midge Larva, Rainbow Warrior, Rojo Midge, Biot mayfly Emerger, #20-22 Green Copper John, Zebra Midge, RS2’s, 5-0 Midge, UV Emerger


Eagle River

Flow: 85 cfs
Conditions:  Starting to see a noticeable improvement in access, as well as results.  With forecast temperatures in the low to mid 40s over the next week, we expect that to continue.  Early in the day focus on the classic winter holding water just adjacent to deep seams and runs, where fish can conserve energy prior to feeding.  As the daytime temperature rises look for fish to move along the seams and into the tail outs of pools in anticipation of early afternoon insect activity.  Once that starts, then look for fish to move up to the middle and even the head of runs below riffles to feed on those drifting nymphs.  Tandem nymph rigs with a mix of Baetis and Midge imitations on 6x tippet will be most productive. However, medium sized searching patterns are always effective as part of that two fly set-up.  In the upper valley there will be open water in Avon just below the water treatment plant.  Look for that to expand downstream now as day time temps climb in the valley and daylight is increasing.  Further down valley, the public access in and around Gypsum will offer increasing options that should expand upstream almost daily as shelf ice along the bank breaks up. 

Flies: Pat’s Rubber Legs, Tungteaser, Bead Head Hare’s Ear, Psycho Prince, Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Buckskin Caddis, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Root Beer Float, Tung Psycho May, RS-2, Zebra Midge, Standard Pheasant Tail 18-22, Tube Midge, Desert Storm, Barr’s Emerger, Juju stuff.


Spinney Mountain Reservoir

Conditions:  Ice.  Closed for the season.  Ice fishing is prohibited and the Park will not reopen until the lake is entirely ice free.  Most likely mid-May.

Flies:


Delaney Buttes Lakes

Conditions:  Ice.  Fishing is allowed and action has been sloooowww.

Flies: Jigs, Pink and White


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