Colorado Fishing Report

December 13th, 2014

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: December 13, 2014


Winter fishing, as of yet, has felt like anything but that, as temperatures have been quite mild for the past couple of weeks and more wading options are open than typical for mid-December.  This will change as we go deeper into Winter but, for now there is more variety than our standard tailwater fisheries.

The Fall spawn has wrapped up and Brown Trout have returned to more sheltered lies as they recover from the stress of that process.  Nymphing remains the name of the game, with two fly rigs offering the most consistent results on most rivers.  Although recent weather has been mild, it is important to remember that it is winter and that requires a more patient and deliberate approach.  Make sure to thoroughly cover the water, this is not the time of year for making a few searching casts and moving on to the next run.

It looks like the inevitable return to snow is in the forecast and as things change, we’ll keep you posted.

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: 110 cfs.
Conditions:  Stream flows through Silverthorne remain steady at 110 cfs, as maintenance work continues on Dillon Dam.  Due to that work, releases from the reservoir continue to be drawn from near the surface of the lake where there are little to no Mysis Shrimp to be sucked into the Blue River below.  While there are still some fish that will eat Mysis imitations out of habit, the percentage of fish taken on those patterns is considerably lower than typical for this flow.  Don’t ignore them all together but, don’t put all your eggs in the Mysis basket either.  Nymphing remains the most consistent method throughout the day.  A good mix of Midge pupa, larva and emerger patterns along with small Mayfly nymph imitations have been productive.  We are still seeing some good results on Egg patterns along with scattered success on thinner tied San Juan Worms.  If you are committed to the dry fly lifestyle, keep an eye out in the mid to late morning for rising fish in some of the classic dry fly runs.  This will be more intense on days with slight overcast conditions but, should be possible most days regardless of cloud cover.  If you happen upon any risers, they have been picky, with adult Midge imitations in #24-26 producing the best results fished on 6-7x tippet.  Your best bet would be to trail those behind a slightly larger Baetis imitation (size 18) so that you can locate the Midge once it hits the water.  This is a good amount of water for December and gives anglers a decent shot for fish that are seeing a steady flow of traffic with the mild weather we have been experiencing.  With that in mind, 6x mono should do, or 5-6x fluorocarbon.  According to Denver Water the maintenance project is running slightly behind schedule and now looks to last until the first or second week of January.  When that does wrap up it will have an impact on the river and subsequent fishing.  We anticipate a surge in Mysis Shrimp from the dam and if all goes well some binge feeding.  That may take a couple of days though, as Denver Water will need to test the system and will be mixing flows from the bottom feed as well as the current siphon that has been in place since August.  As a result there may not be enough suction through the tailwater works to bring many shrimp.  We’ll keep an eye on it and pass along the information as it happens. 

Town Flies:  Kingery’s Cap’n Hook, Pure Midge Larva Red, Tube Midge – Black or Red, RS-2 – Black or Dun, WD40 – Black or Chocolate, Tidbit Midge, Winter Baetis, Black Beauty, Disco Midge, Desert Storm,  Frenchie, Two Bit Hooker, Rainbow Warrior, UV Emerger – Black or Brown, Otter Soft Milking Egg, Bead Eggs, Wooly Bugger Black or Olive

Blue River Below Green Mountain

Flow: 273 cfs.
Conditions:  Great flow for winter wading.  Once you get to the water that is.  As is typical of this time of year, the approach to the river from the parking area can be down right dangerous with the combination of a steep hill, snow on the ground and a near lack of direct sunlight.  Take your time on the descent as well as the climb back out at the end of your day.  There may even be a rope tied to a tree that someone had left there to assist with the access but, we can’t confirm that it is still in place.  As for the fishing, this is a good option for a winter tailwater with a little more solitude.  Nymphing has been decent with a wide variety of imitations for Midges, Baetis, mid sized beaded searching patterns (such as Pheasant Tails, Hare’s Ear, Tungteaser etc) as well as some continued action on egg patterns.  We like to fish a larger bug in the set up through the Winter due to the good number of robust insects in this stretch of river like Drakes and Stones.  Sometimes that larger offering presents a opportunity for a bigger meal that a fish just can’t pass up.  Tandem rigs have been solid leading with either one of those beaded searching nymphs or an egg and following that up with your favorite Baetis or Midge pattern.   If you find that all of your action is coming on the small, trailing fly, then switch up your lead fly to a Baetis imitation with a Midge behind.  Water clarity and volume allow for 5x mono to be sufficient but, there are a lot of anglers that will drop to 6x for added stealth, as well fluorocarbon always enables a jump up for strength.  Streamers are still finding some fish willing to bite although, that has slowed some with the colder temperatures.  If you aren’t familiar with this spot, or if you haven’t fished it in the Winter, be prepared for the cold.  Not only is there a near lack of direct sunlight but, the canyon lies on the edge of the Middle Park inversion where temperatures in Winter can average 10 colder than upriver in Silverthorne. 

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: Split Case BWO, Barr’s BWO, Juju Baetis, Zebra Midge, Poison Tung, Winter Baetis, Black Beauty, Rojo Midge, Otter Egg.  Streamers: Silver Bullet, Slumpbuster, Sculpzilla, Tungsten Thin Mint

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.

Colorado River Above Kremmling (Parshall)

Flow: 260+/- cfs. @ Parshall
Conditions:  Always a decent option for winter wade fishing.  While daytime temps have been very mild recently, overnight lows are still dropping into the teens and even single digits at times.  This will have an effect on the conditions the farther away you get from the confluence with the Williams Fork, as there will be morning ice flow to contend with particularly as you move downstream below the bridge in the middle of the Breeze unit.  While there may be some limited open water options outside of the Breeze, for all practical purposes that is the only solid Winter access.  Still a good amount of water for this time of year, which is also helping to keep a little extra distance of the river open.  Tandem nymph rigs focused on Midges and Baetis along with a the odd egg and San Juan Worm imitation have been most productive.  Look for fish to be holding in the tail-outs of pools and runs early in the day and then moving up towards the middle part to the head of those runs mid-day in order to feed on drifting nymphs.  By now the spawn is over and fish will have returned to lesser currents to conserve energy and recover from the exertion of their fall ritual.  5 or 6x mono should do the trick and strikes have been subtle, we prefer to use yarn for an indicator under these conditions, as it tends to be more sensitive to these lighter strikes than the “bobber” style. 

Flies:  Winter Baetis, RS-2, WD-40, Big Bear Baetis, Biot Midge, Pure Midge Larva, Tube Midge, Miracle Nymph, Beaded Pheasant Tail, Two Bit Hooker Red or Olive, Buckskin Caddis, San Juan Worm Patterns, Juju Baetis Red or Purple, Zebra Midge, Small Eggs

Colorado River Pumphouse to Dotsero

Flow:  559 cfs.
Conditions:  With a reprieve in Winter weather over the past couple of weeks, there has been a mild resurgence in opportunity here.  However, you need to put that into the right context that it is still December and that is a far cry from what you may be used to in September.  The road is passable into Pumphouse BUT, it is not maintained so enter at your own risk.  Once it starts snowing again it may limit those without 4 Wheel drive.  The Trough road is maintained through the Winter, as is the county road into Radium so, check out the access along those areas.  You will find some shore ice widely present with slower runs seeing that ice extend out further, making wading unsafe in those spots.  Nymph rigs with a mix of small Baetis and Midge patterns along with some action on mid-sized beaded searching nymphs.  Stonefly nymphs can work at times as well so, don’t overlook the big bugs if they aren’t into tiny stuff.  As the temperature drops again and the drops this will probably slow to nearly no action but, while the weather allows give it a look. 

Flies: Tungsten Split Case BWO, Tungsten Psycho BWO, Juju Baetis, Two Bit Hooker, Zebra Midge, RS-2, Rubberlegs, Beaded Pheasant Tails, Beaded Hares Ears, Hot Wire Prince, Small Copper John in Red, Green or Black, Tungsten Prince, Rubber Leg Mr Peacock, Miscellaneous Streamers: Sculpzilla, Silver Bullet, Space Invader, Beldar, Bead Head Buggers in Black or White

Colorado Below Glenwood Springs

Flow: 1,400 cfs.
Conditions:  Conditions below Glenwood Springs are wide open, without the slightest hint of ice to be found.  Water clarity is as good as it gets on this part of the river, with at least 4 feet, even greater at times.  Nymph fishing has been fair to good depending on the day.  With such mild weather the past few weeks it is hard to remember that it is December after all.  A wide variety of patterns have been taking fish including smaller sized imitations for Baetis and Midges, along with some steady action on beaded searching nymphs in sizes 12-16.  For the most part the Fall spawn has wrapped up but, some good results are still being reported on egg patterns, as well.  Streamer fishing has definitely slowed, as post spawn fish are a little less inclined to chase down a meal and instead conserve some energy in their recovery.  With water conditions being so clear we recommend dropping down a size of tippet or two and fish with 4x and smaller.  Regardless of the action, if you have a jones to get out on the water at this time of year and don’t want to put on so many layers that you can’t move, this is the place to go.


Flies: Mr Peacock Ice, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Tungteaser, Bead Prince, Hot Wire Prince, Twenty Incher, Tungsten Pheasant Tail, Bead Hares Ear, Barr’s Emerger BWO, Two Bit Hooker, Split case BWO, Tungsten Psycho BWO, Poison Tung, Zebra Midge, San Juan worm, Eggs

Arkansas River Above Buena Vista

Flow: 218 cfs. @ Granite
Conditions:  Typically at this time of year, the upper river is a no go.  However, with a combination of some mild weather and a recent, short lived flush from Twin Lakes at Thanksgiving which cleared the channel of ice, there is actually some opportunity to fish the upper river.  Although, the action may be less than consistent.  We would recommend focusing your efforts in the area from the confluence of Lake Creek, that’s in Balltown at the intersection on Highways 24 and 82, down to the town of Granite.  This will have a near tailwater effect and will provide the best chance at finding fish.  As the cold settles back in, the ice will start to return and the opportunity will narrow.  Focus your efforts on the tail-outs of pools and runs where fish will hold in the slower currents to conserve energy during the winter months.  As the day warms up look for them to move towards the middle to top of those runs to feed on drifting nymphs.  A double nymph rig focused on Baetis and Midge imitations will be a solid set-up along with smaller sized searching nymphs.


Flies: Two bit Hooker, Zebra Midge Black or Purple, Poison Tung, Biot Midge, Medallion Midge, Tube Midge, Beaded Hares Ear, Hot Wire Prince, Beaded Pheasant Tail, Copper John, CDC Hares Ear, Twenty Incher, Mr Peacock, RS-2, Flossy Worm, Pure Midge Larva

Arkansas River Salida Area

Flow: 422 cfs. @ Salida
Conditions: Mild weather and decent flows continue to make this a good mid-winter option, maybe one of the best overlooked options at that.  Mid-day weather conditions have been down right comfortable for the prime time on the river.  Early in the day look for fish to be holding in the slower, deeper runs and pools towards the tail-outs and adjacent to seams.  As the day warms up, so does the possibility of food in the form of drifting nymphs.  As that happens shift your attention towards the middle of the run, on up towards the head where fish may move into feeding lanes.  Tandem nymph rigs offer the most productive approach and we like to mix it up with a variety of Beaded searching nymphs in the lead, followed up with either a small Baetis or Midge Larva imitation.


Flies:  Beadhead Pheasant Tail, Beadhead Prince, Beadhead Hare’s Ear, Red or Chartreuse Copper John, Hot Wire Prince, Tungteaser, Zebra Midge Black or Purple, Rojo Midge, Poison Tung, Barr’s Emerger BWO, Juju Baetis, Loop Wing Emerger, Split Case BWO, Tungsten Psycho BWO,

Roaring Fork River at Glenwood Springs

Flow: 586 cfs.
Conditions: Good winter option as well, particularly in the lower reaches or just below the confluence with the Frying Pan.  Small to medium sized searching nymphs fished in tandem with Baetis and Midge imitations.  Look for runs and pools where the water offers some depth and the current has a chance to slow down on provide some holding water.  Late morning to mid-afternoon has been the most productive fishing , as well as comfortable weather.  The spawn has wrapped up but, there are still decent numbers of fish willing to pick up an egg pattern still.


Flies: Twenty Incher, Tungteaser, Stubby stones, Beaded Pheasant Tail, Standard Pheasant Tail, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Tungstone, Copper Johns, Hares Ear, Mr. Peacock, CDC Prince, Split Case BWO, Barr’s BWO Emerger, RS 2, Tungsten Psycho May, Hot Wire Prince, Two Bit Hooker, STD Baetis and a variety of Eggs.

South Platte River, Middle Fork

Flow: 115 cfs.
Conditions:  Not much of anything going on in the Middle Fork during this time of year.  While the ice has yet to take over, low flows and cold water will make this a low percentage option.  Your better bet in the valley may be the tailwater stretch below Spinney.


Flies:  Chartreuse Copper John, Rainbow Warrior, Egg Patterns, Hot Wire Prince, Beaded Flash Prince, Tungteaser, Tung Psycho May, Zebra Midge, Poison Tung, Rainbow Warrior, Autumn Splendor, Slumpbuster, Sparkle Bugger

South Platte, Dream Stream

Flow: 51 cfs.
Conditions:  Low and clear flow, as is the norm for the dead of Winter.  The spawn may be over, and fortunately so is the madness that were the crowds but, you still need to make sure to watch where you walk in the river and not disturb any of the beds that have been populated with eggs hoping to make it through the gestation period.  As low as the water is now you should be able to reach most drifts without having to wade out much anyway. Definitely a technical time of year to fish the “Dream”, you’re going to need to bring your A game.  Tandem nymph rigs using 6-7x tippet with a small or no indicator is standard.  Small Midge pupa, larva and emergers along with Baetis imitations are going to be the most consistent.  Use a stealthy approach not only when walking up to the bank, but also when casting.  Move slowly along and sight your fish before casting blind and risking spooking a fish you may not have know was there.


Flies:  Loop Wing Emerger, Pure Midge Larva Black or Pale Olive, Black Copper John #22, Juju Baetis, Buckskin, Desert Storm Chartreuse, Tube Midge, Midge Biot, UV Emerger, Poison Tung, Zebra Midge Black/Silver, Barr’s Emerger BWO, RS2, Poxybiot Nymph, Egg Patterns, Cap’n Hook, Disco Midge

Williams Fork River Below Dam

Flow: 78 cfs.
Conditions: Action has been relatively good for this winter tailwater.  Flows are starting to drop but, there is still enough water here to offer plenty of runs holding fish.  Look for fish to be sheltering in runs and pools that offer some depth and a little less current.  Baetis and Midge imitations fished together in a tandem nymph rig are a good place to start.  There are still some fish taking the occasional egg and thing San Juan Worm that are being used as part of two fly set-up.  Small tippet is going to offer a better presentation at these flow, 6x in mono and 5-6x in fluoro.  Without any snow in the past few weeks, the trail in very manageable accessing the river and crowds have been hit or miss depending on the day.  With the nice weather, it has been a little busier than typical in the winter.


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

Antero Reservoir

Conditions:  Mostly ice but, not sure on the thickness/safety of it yet.  We’ll get back to you on conditions as it firms up.


Spinney Mountain Reservoir

Conditions: Ice. The Park is closed for the season.


Delaney Buttes Lakes

Conditions: North and East are both frozen, with half of South covered.  If you are into the hard water, this is a good place to check it out.

Flies: Jigs in White, Pink and Red

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