Colorado Fishing Report

April 6th, 2019

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 stretch of river, simply scroll below to read more information. 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 7:30 am – 6:00 pm

Sunday 7:30 am – 5 pm

 

Recent Update: April 5, 2019

 

We are definitely seeing an overall improvement in options over the past couple of weeks.  Keep in mind that we were blessed with a normal winter this year (unlike the past 2 winters) and as such, things are going to be very different than this time last year.  Instead of most of our local waters being open in February, we are back to a more typical timeline where April 1 is the reasonable date to look for destinations other than winter tailwaters.  Freestone river access is increasing almost daily and there are good opportunities on the Colorado, Arkansas, Eagle, and Roaring Fork.  There will be day-to-day water quality issues depending on the weather but, we shouldn’t see an overall degradation of things for run-off until the second or third week of May.

This time of year is a favorite for many of the guys in the shop, we view it as a bonus season to get in some solid fishing before runoff hits and limits our choices.  A combination of lightly pressured rivers during the shoulder season in between ski traffic and summer visitors, increasing insect activity as spring hatches ramp up along with motivated fish, hungry after a long winter of surviving on mostly small offerings of midges, make for some fantastic action if you are able to be flexible with your fishing schedule around passing spring storms and moments of stained water.

Midges will continue to be an important part of the diet through early May but, Blue Winged Olives are fast becoming the principal hatch in many locations and spring Caddis are not far behind.  Be prepared with a good assortment of nymph and adult imitations for these key hatches and you should cover the majority of locations for the next 2 months.

Scroll down for more detailed reports on your favorite rivers, with flows and fly choices.

Blue River Below Dillon Reservoir

Flow: 95 cfs
Conditions:  Another slight bump up in the release from the dam recently is a step in the right direction and should lead to a little more consistent action in town.  Overall, water clarity remains solid but, there are days when warm temperatures bring a bit of runoff from straight creek into the river and the water stains a bit.  That is actually not a bad thing, as a little bit of color can help put trout at ease, particularly under clear skies.  Traffic in town has been fairly light for such a stable, winter, tailwater option and now that spring break is over, that should continue until run-off pushes people off of freestone rivers.  Results continue to be most consistent on the typical tailwater fare of Midge pupa and larva imitations and small Baetis nymph and emerger patterns.  As well, anglers that are using egg and San Juan Worm patterns as the point fly in their tandem nymph rigs have been finding some success on those.  Results on Mysis patterns have been less productive on the whole, as low flows from the dam generally don’t bring as many naturals into the river, with the better action on those imitations coming the closer to the dam that you fish. (above the interstate).  However, as we get into spring there will come a need for Denver Water to increase the release to make room for snow melt.  When that happens, the shrimp fishing will pick up, as greater flow equals greater suction from the lake and more shrimp entering the river.  This current flow will hold for the near future until we see a sustained warming trend that increases the inflows into Lake Dillon.  At that point Denver Water will increase the release to account for the added water in the system.  When that happens, look for flows to jump to at least 300 and the action to improve again.

 
Town Flies: BTS Shrimp, Tim’s Mysis, Stalcup’s Mysis, Buckskin, Andrew’s 5-0 Midge, Red Neck Midge, Glassy Brassie, Mirage Zebra Midge, Desert Storm, Rainbow Warrior, Black Beauty, Brassie, UV Emerger, Biot Midge, Lil Spanker, Tungsten Psycho May-Black, Rojo Midge, Tube Midge – Black or Red, RS-2 – Black or Dun, WD40 – Black or Chocolate, Zebra Midge, Otter Soft Milking Egg, Bead Eggs, Flossy Worm, Gummy Worm, Sparkle Worm, And work in a streamer every once in a while, as well. Often over looked but, randomly deadly.


Blue River Below Green Mountain

Flow: 230 cfs
Conditions: After a couple of adjustments to the release over the past few weeks, flows are now at an ideal level for wade fishing.  They are still low enough to allow for wading anglers to cross the river, while at the same time high enough to provide a little more cover for trout to feel at ease, as well as spread out from the winter lies that they had been holding in.  Action should be most consistent on a mix of nymph patterns for Midges and Baetis paired with small to mid-sized stones and searching patterns.  At the same time, keep and eye out for surface activity to emerging Midges and Blue Winged Olives when conditions allow.  With fish coming out of the winter lull, streamer fishing can also start to pick up in the canyon as they look to boost caloric intake.  Typically at this time of year, we find action to be better through this stretch on days with diffused sunlight, whether that is just high clouds or a full on snow shower.  Fish just respond better down here when it’s overcast.  As always, be careful getting to the river, spring means snow-melt and tricky footing on the hill, with ice in the morning and mud in the afternoon.

 

Flies: Dries: Parachute Extended Body BWO, CDC Baetis Dun, Hanging Midge, Slate Gray No Hackle, Winger Parachute, Parachute Purple. Big bead heads: Deep Dish Green Drake, Hare’s Ear, Tungteaser, Pheasant Tail, Rubberlegs, Psycho Prince, Duracell Jig, Flossy Worm. The Smaller Stuff: Aero Baetis, RS-2, Tung Psycho May, Darth Baetis, Split Case BWO, Barr’s BWO, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Juju Baetis, Red Neck Midge, Tube Midge, BH Biot Midge, Mirage Zebra,Otter Egg. Sculpzilla, Sex Dungeon, Cheech Leech, Sparkle Minnow etc


Colorado River Above Kremmling (Parshall)

Flow: 300 +/- cfs
Conditions:  The heart of the upper river continues to offer good open water from the confluence with the William’s Fork down through Reeder Creek, although Reeder Creek is a little less productive at the moment than the access points closer to Parshall.  The action at those core access points continues to be solid, as it has been for the past month.  Results have been good on a wide range of nymph imitations from the usual spring Baetis and Midge stuff, to small to mid-sized Stoneflies and searching patterns.  As the days grow longer look for fish to continue to shelter in the classic winter water during the overnight hours and early in the day, then as water temps warm mid-day and insect activity picks up they should start to spread out a bit to feed on drifting nymphs.  At that point, look for and increase in fish along the seams and moving to the middle to top ends of pools and flats, as well as up to the bottoms of riffles where food is abundant.  Keep an eye out for rising fish mid-day feeding on Midge and Baetis adults.  Even though we are seeing progress in the ice melt, it is still a bit too early for the public water stretches above Parshall.  That could be another couple of weeks before those areas become a viable option.

 

Flies: Winger BWO, CDC Para BWO, No Hackle BWO, GT Adult BWO, Hippie Stomper, Para Purple, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Flossy Worm, CDC Pheasant Tail, Bead Prince, Psycho Prince, Breadcrust, Hammerhead Nymph, Lil Spanker, Tungsten Hackled, Pheasant Tail #14-18, Redemption BWO, Split Case BWo, Tungsten Micro Mayfly Brown, Tungsten Juju Baetis, Aero Baetis, Root Beer Float


Colorado River Pumphouse to Dotsero

Flow: 640 cfs. @ Pumphouse
Conditions:   Things are starting to pick up along this popular stretch of river.  Although it may seem that it is slow to start this year, this is more typical for spring when we have a normal winter.  The river is wide open from Pumphouse downstream for both wading and floating, and Rancho is doing shuttles.  Clarity will vary from spot to spot, with it generally being a bit more stable the higher upstream you are.  As you get down below State Bridge there is still a chance to find color in the water due to the low elevation snow melt running into the river.  Keep in mind that this is not run-off but, rather just some periods of low clarity that will come and go.  Although Midges and Baetis will comprise the majority of insect activity for the next few weeks, fish have been responding well to other offerings typical to this stretch of water.  In particular, Stonefly nymphs and beaded searching patterns have been fairly consistent in their productivity.  As well, there has been some streamer action already this spring, although that is still inconsistent at this point but, should increase now as the days get warmer.  As overnight temperatures are still on the cool side, it’s not necessary to be on the water at the crack of dawn, we are seeing things most productive from late morning through the afternoon. 


Flies: Pat’s Rubber Legs, Psycho Prince, Yeager’s Soft Hackle, Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Duracell, Lil Spanker, Millers Tactical Plus 1, Foam Wing RS2, Tungsten Psycho May, Darth Baetis, Eggs, San Juan Worm, Sculpzilla, Silver Bullet, Sex Dungeon, Cheech Leech, Crystal Bugger


Colorado Below Glenwood Springs

Flow: 1660 cfs
Conditions: A fairly good option at this time of year if you are flexible and have a back up plan.  Spring comes early to the lower river and with that so does solid fishing.  The problem here is that at this point on the river, there are plenty of feeder streams that have emptied into it and some of those can be dirty from snow melt.  However with a river of this nature, you are seldom going to find gin clear conditions and what would most certainly be unfish-able conditions on your favorite tailwater, can actually be ideal on the Colorado.  There are varying degrees of clarity, rather color, that can hold the answer to if it’s worth a try.  The key to remember when judging the clarity is as simple as “Green is good, brown is down.”  There may only be a foot of visibility but, if the color is more greenish, then give it a try.  But, if it has a mocha or chocolate look to it, then head elsewhere.  Once you determine which it is when you get there the nymphing has been the most consistent on a wide mix of patterns for Baetis, Midges, Stoneflies and Caddis, along with mid to larger beaded searching nymphs.  Traditional tandem nymph rigs are best suited for the deeper nature of the river here than dry-dropper but, if you are committed to the the technique, it can pay off, as well.  Ledges, deep pockets, structure, eddy lines and edge water will offer the best chance to find fish sheltering and feeding in the same lie.   There are some March Browns around when conditions are right, and if you happen upon them it is fantastic.  The streamer bite is decent at this time of year but, it does require a little more patience than later in the season.  Sculpin spawn in the spring and hungry Browns will be looking to capitalize on their presence.  This stretch of the river is entirely different than anything upstream from Dotsero but, if you can get past it’s proximity to the highway it is definitely worth the trip.  Although floating it does offer the best access for the patchwork of public water that can be hard to reach on foot, there are plenty of spots to drive/walk in to.  Don’t let the size of the river intimidate you, rather break it down into smaller pieces and fish it like you would any other wade river you are familiar with.  This stretch consistently produces some of the nicest Rainbows on the Colorado River.

 

Flies: Pat’s Rubber Legs, Tungteaser, CDC BH Pheasant Tail, Bead Prince, Duracell Jig, Tungsten Pheasant Tail, Deep Dish Green Drake, Bead Hares Ear, Yeager’s BH Soft Hackle J, Zebra Midges, San Juan Worm patterns, Lil Spanker, Tung Psycho May, Big Spanker, Rainbow Warrior, Magic Fly, RS-2, Bead Eggs, Otter Egg, Flossy Worm, Sex Dungeon, Heisenberg Streamers, Sculpzilla, Silver Bullet.


 

Arkansas River Above Buena Vista

Flow: 372 @ Granite
Conditions: A fairly solid amount of water for this time of year, as water managers try to make room for anticipated above average snow melt and water transfers this season.  That being said, if you are familiar with fishing the Ark at this time of year, be prepared for the additional water when you get there.  That’s not a negative either, there is by no means too much water to fish.  It is more in line with flows for the early part of May, not April.  With the extra water, fish will be a little more spread out and at ease under the additional cover of that water.  It is still a little early in the upper reaches of the river for widespread success but, in the section from Balltown down to Granite there is a chance at some success for anglers willing to put in the effort.  Tandem nymph rigs will be the best approach with a mix of Midge and Baetis nymphs fished in conjunction with small to mid sized Stonefly and searching patterns.  Focus your efforts on water that offers a bit of shelter from the main current but is in close enough proximity for fish to post up adjacent to that water to feed on drifting nymphs as the day warms up.  Think deeper runs, pools and flats, with the ability to move in and out of eddy lines and up to the bottom of riffles.  While it may not be the most consistent section of river for action just yet, it sure as hell won’t be overrun with competition.
Flies:   Pat’s Rubber Legs, Red Collar Leggy PT, Duracell, Copper John, BH Pheasant Tail, BH Hare’s Ear, Lil Spanker, Hot Wire Prince, Psycho Prince, Yeager’s Soft Hackle J, Iron Sally, Hammerhead Jig, Tungsten Psycho May, Tungsten Micro Mayfly, Beaded Biot Midge, Flossy Worm, Silver Bullet, Sparkle Minnow.


Arkansas River Salida Area

Flow: 520 cfs @ Salida
Conditions:  Flows are above average for this time of year but, that does not mean that fishing is blown out.  Rather flows are just a bit ahead of schedule.  This is more typical for early May, not April.  That being said, this will allow for fish to spread out and find shelter in greater amounts of water types, and along the edge water, not just in the center of the river.  This may make for a slightly tougher wade in spots but, it will offer better float fishing throughout, as the fish will slide out towards the bank and boats won’t be running directly over them.  Midges continue to be a solid piece of the insect activity and Baetis are quickly filling in another large piece of that action.  A wide range of imitations for those 2 hatches have been most productive fished as part of a tandem nymph rig.  Pair either of those with a small to mid sized Stonefly or beaded searching nymph.  Early in the day fish may hold tight to structure or in deeper water until nymphs start to drift just before the hatch.  At that point look for fish to migrate to feeding lies adjacent to the current, along seams, into pockets and below the bottom of riffles where they can pick off bugs drifting by.  If you are fortunate enough to get any cloud cover, be prepared for the chance to find rising fish.  Depending on the time of day and water temps that could either be to Midge or Baetis adults, or both on the right day.   And streamer fishing is on the rise as well, with water temps rising to more seasonal levels, trout are getting more aggressive in their feeding.

 
Flies:  Extended Body Para BWO, No Hackle Slate Gray, Winger Para BWO, GT Adult BWO, Small Chubbies, Para X, Hippy Stomper, Beadhead Pheasant Tail, Red Collar Leggy PT, Beadhead Prince, Beadhead Hare’s Ear, Red or Chartreuse Copper John, Hot Wire Prince, Psycho Prince, Hammerhead, Duracell Jig, Tungsten Psycho May, Aero Baetis, Darth Baetis, Split Case BWO, RS2, Tungsten Micro May, Poison Tung, Frenchie, Red Neck Midge, BH Biot Midge,Iron Sally, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Yeager’s Soft Hackle J


Roaring Fork River at Glenwood Springs

Flow: 530 cfs
Conditions: Flows are starting to slowly climb as some early spring snow melt is entering the river.  Nothing major just yet but, every little bit is helping to make navigation a little easier with the lower levels.  Midges and Baetis are both solid parts of the insect activity and nymphs and dry imitations for both have been producing solid results.  A solid spring option, especially if you are looking for something different from your usual destination.  Temperatures are warmer, plenty of spring insects and a solid average fish size make for a good combination in most people’s opinion.  Nymphing will continue to offer the most consistent action throughout the day.  Beaded searching patterns and Baetis imitations have all been producing good results, along with the typical spring spawn patterns(if you’re into that sort of thing).  Low and clear water means finer tippet sizes, 4 and 5x in most spots have been adequate.  But as those flows continue to tic up, look for a little more color to work it’s way in and allow for 3 to 4x.  There has also been an uptick in the streamer bite at times, as spring is in the air and fish have been more aggressive in their search for calories after the long winter.

 

Flies: Beaded Pheasant Tail, Pat’s Rubber Legs #8-10, Psycho Prince, CDC Prince, Hot Wire Prince, Standard Pheasant Tail, Tung Split case BWO, Foam Wing RS2, Darth Baetis, Tung Psycho May Olive or Black, BH Mayfly Micro, Frenchie, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Duracell Jig, Root Beer Float, Yeager’s Soft Hackle,


South Platte River, Middle Fork

Flow: ? cfs
Conditions: Not sure how much open water there is just yet but, this should start to become a decent option as we move into the middle part of the month.

Flies: Beaded Prince, Duracell Jig, Hammerhead Jig, Red Collar PT, Beaded Pheasant Tail, Big Spanker, Zebra Midge, Mirage Midge, Red Neck Midge


South Platte, Dream Stream

Flow: 48 cfs
Conditions:Honestly we have been avoiding the Dream at all costs. Not only in order to give a break to the lake run fish that have moved into this tiny stretch of river to try and procreate under adverse natural conditions, let alone having to deal with running a gauntlet of flies, but also as a regulator to our blood pressure, which seems to skyrocket at the sight of “anglers” standing over Redds and harassing those very spawning fish as they are trying to reproduce, thus insuring the trout population for those same short-sighted “anglers”. We don’t mean to be a downer here but, this has gotten all too common of a practice at the Dream and we can’t bear to watch it. We also know that it’s not everyone down there that does it but, the amount of it that happens there ruins it for all you ethical anglers out there. So, we are asking for you to consider the resource and look elsewhere for the month of April into May.

 

Flies:


Williams Fork River Below Dam

Flow: 67 cfs
Conditions: Although a bit low for fish to be holding in all water types, flows remain at a very solid level for this popular tailwater. You will still want to employ a slightly stealthy approach in order to avoid spooking sensitive fish.  Midges and Baetis is the theme, as it is just about everywhere at this time of year, but the positive to that is if you are prepared for one river, you can fish any of them with confidence that you have what you need.  With the tailwater filter, lighter tippet will be critical here.  5 may work but, 6x is where we would start to offer you the best results.  Look for fish to be posted up in the classic winter “holes” that have a little bit of depth and cover from predators.  Be thorough in your drifts, as well as delicate in your presentation.  Typically small Baetis nymphs and emerger patterns fished in tandem with Midge pupa, larva and emerger imitations is a good place to start for set up.  As well, we like small Caddis nymphs through out the entire year, particularly Buckskin and Bread crust in 16-18.  As well, mix in a San Juan Worm pattern along with a searching pattern such as a flashback pheasant tail.  Don’t underestimate the amount of weight needed in your nymph rig, the narrowness of this river creates a deceptively faster flow than it would appear to be running.

 

Flies: Bead Head Breadcrust, Epoxy Biot Stone, San Juan Worm, Flashback Pheasant Tail, Split Case BWO, Poxy-Biot Nymph, Buckskin, Flossy Worm, Two Bit Hooker, Tungsten Micro Mayfly, 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: 214 @ Gypsum
Conditions: Stream flows remain low, which is great for wading but, not so good for those looking to float.  That is probably a few weeks out yet.  As for clarity, that continues to be an issue, particularly below Milk Creek, west of Wolcott.  Be prepared to move up river if you find dirty water in the lower reaches. Actually, that is almost a given this week.  With that being part of the equation it is no surprise that the water that is clean enough to fish is getting a little extra attention so, be prepared to encounter your fellow angler.  When you do, make sure to give everyone a little bit of room.  We know it can be a bitch to get to your favorite river and find someone in that spot you were looking to fish.  But if we could all give each other some spacial considerations, we might still be able to find in fishing what it is we are looking for – a break from whatever it is we deal with on a daily basis, which we’re pretty sure involves people.  So if you do find an open run, it has been fishing well.  Mostly on standard early season nymph patterns for Baetis and Midges along with Stonefly and beaded searching nymphs.  With the robust snowpack we have this year, we are anticipating a much healthier year on the Eagle.  Look for strong Caddis to follow in the coming month both before and after run-off. 

Flies: Duracell Jig, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Psycho Prince, Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Yeager’s Soft Hackle J, Thompson’s Forky Baetis, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Root Beer Float, Tung Psycho May, Poison Tung, BH Biot Midge, Foam Wing RS-2, Rainbow Warrior, Red Neck Midge, Darth Baetis, Huevos


Spinney Mountain Reservoir

Conditions: Ice. Closed for season

Flies: Chironomids, Hares Ear, Pheasant Tail, Zebra Midge, Eggs, Rabbit Leech, Hale Bopp leech


Delaney Buttes Lakes

Conditions: Ice. Closed but, should open in the coming weeks.

Flies: Buggers, Chironomids, Calibaetis and Eggs and such.


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