Colorado Fishing Report

July 22nd, 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: July 14, 2016


A strong monsoon this week has been fantastic for the fishing around the high country.  After two solid weeks of hot and sunny conditions, fish are responding well to afternoon clouds over the past few days.  Dry fly action on terrestrials and hatch matching imitations have been a welcome reprieve from the afternoon dropper fishing we had to do last week in the bright sun.

There have been some localized cloudbursts that can influence water quality but, those are very scattered, not widespread at all. You might have a stretch on a particular river that gets some run-off from a quick hitting storm and just a mile or two up or downstream didn’t see a drop.  With that in mind be prepared to move in order to find clean water.  Check the stream flow gauges in the morning for a general idea and if you get to the river and find cloudy water, head up stream til you find more favorable conditions.

The Colorado, Eagle and Roaring Fork have all had some short lived issues this week but, we have been able to fish our way around it each time we encountered it.  And it’s not always by going up above it to get clear water.  On Tuesday the Roaring Fork blew out above Basalt so, we ran down to the Colorado and fished below Glenwood, where we found gin clear conditions.  It wasn’t until after 5 when we were headed back into town that the dirty water made it’s way down the Fork into the Colorado.

The Eagle has been pretty stable above Milk Creek and even though Sheephorn has spiked the Colorado has been manageable for the most part to State Bridge.  Although today did see that take a hit, an increase in flows from Green Mountain should help push that through this evening.

Additionally with any fishing you do right now, be it dries, dry dropper or straight up nymphing, look for fish to be moving into water that is more ideal for the weather and evolving conditions. Now that run-off is a distant memory and flows are moving into mid-summer levels, the high sun will not only create harsh light and wary trout, but also start to diminish oxygen levels. That being the case look for fish to move into water that offers more cover AND produces more oxygen. Riffles, pockets and fast runs will be attracting fish now as they move away from high water lies along the bank as flows are dropping.

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: 119 cfs.
Conditions:  After 3 glorious weeks of top water spill from the reservoir drivinig Caddis and PMD hatches, the Blue has returned to a tailwater.  With that, water temps have plummeted back into the high 30s, putting the brakes on those summer hatches.  The initial few days did give the fish a pretty good shock and slowed action considerably, but we are starting to see an improvement to feeding activity.  Look for that feeding to be mostly subsurface once again, on the typical tailwater patterns for Midges and Baetis.  As well, now that we are back to a bottom feed there will once again be Mysis entering the river from the lake.  Low and clear flows will also require a return to finer tippet and leader, at least 5x but, even better if you can throw 6x.  There may still be the opportunity to throw dries here in town, if you are committed to that sort of thing.  Your best bet for that to pay off would be either to focus on the pocket water that is in between the major runs or get out in the evening when there may be some scattered egg laying insect activity.


Town Flies: Flossy Worn, Bacon and Eggs, Gummy Worms, Sparkle Worms, Split Case PMD, Poxybiot Nymph, Desert Storm, Rainbow Warrior, Black Beauty, Brassie, UV Emerger, Biot Midge, Lil Spanker, Tungsten Psycho May-Black, Kingery’s Cap’n Hook, Rojo Midge, 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, . And work in a streamer every once in a while, as well. Often over looked but, randomly deadly.

Blue River Below Green Mountain

Flow: 603 cfs.
Conditions: Flows have stepped back up a tick this week, which is a “good news, bad news” sort of thing.  The good news is that this level should allow for those float fishing types to get down the river with a decent shot at not running aground and trespassing.  The bad news is that wade fishermen, who were just getting to the point where they could think about crossing the river, are now shut out of that option for the time being.  However, wade fishing continues to be solid for both nymph and dry anglers.  Strong hatches of Caddis and Green Drakes are driving the action but, there are also lesser amounts of PMDs and Stones to be found.  Fish are well distributed in all water types, which should help spread out the angler pressure with access being limited to the near bank only.  Edge water, riffles, pockets and runs have all been producing good results at different points throughout the day.   Mid to late morning through mid-afternoon have been productive, then again in the evening, as well.  This is an often overlooked location for it’s Drake hatch and if you hit it just right, it can rival any river in the state for that hatch.  That being said, Caddis will still be the thickest emergence and provide the most consistent dry fly opportunities.  At this flow, 3 and 4x should cover the tippet needs.  These levels are once again high enough to float and we expect that to pick up in popularity over the next couple of weeks, and clearance under the bridges should improve. If you go, know where you’re at and stay legal.


Flies: Big bead heads: Tungsten Split Case Green Drake, Hare’s Ear, Tungteaser, Pheasant Tail, Stubby Stone, Twenty Incher, Rubberlegs, Psycho Prince, Green Drake Nymph, Mr Peacock Ice, Duracell Jig, Flossy Worm. The Smaller Stuff: RS-2, Tung Psycho May, Split Case PMD, Barr’s PMD, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Otter Egg. Dries: Elk Hair Caddis, Stimulator, Sparkle Bug Olive, Jake’s Green Drake, Killer Green Bug, CDC Flav Parachute, H & D Western March Brown, Twisted X, Hippie Stomper.

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: 382 cfs.
Conditions:  Stream flows have fallen into mid-summer levels, great news for wade anglers on the upper Colorado.  Just in time as summer hatches heat up.  Look for good numbers of Caddis and Yellow Sallies along with PMDs that are emerging daily.  Early in the day start with a nymph rig or dry-dropper in the tail outs of runs and pools.  Then in the morning as water temps rise and drifting insects become active, work your way up to the bottom to middle of riffles where fish will be feeding on the drifting nymphs.  Once the emergence is apparent switch over to dries in the riffles and flats.  At this flow the river will be full bank-to-bank,offering a well disperse population of fish.  Take advantage of this and look for some of the drifts that may be less obvious (along a slow bank cut or in among a log jam).  Clarity will be much improved, but the volume of water should still allow for an extra tippet diameter, probably 4 to 5x in most spots.  Don’t forget about the water above Parshal either.  Flows will be slightly lower and warmer, as it is above the confluence with the Willie’s and is about 100 cfs lower.  And we would be remiss without reminding you to go prepared for some epic Mosquito activity as well.  With all the water this spring, summer populations of those blood suckers have exploded.


Flies: Twisted X, Mini Foamulator, Hippie Stomper, Stimulator, Garcis’s Mini Hot, PMD Teaser, Silhouette Dun Sulphur, Snowshoe Caddis, Sparklebug Caddis, Elk Hair Caddis, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Hurless Stone Nymph, Flossy Worm, Gummy Worm, Tungsten Yellow Sally, Iron Sally, CDC Pheasant Tail, Bead Prince, Psycho Prince, Hammerhead Nymph, Lil Spanker, Tungsten Hackled, Buckskin #16-20, Pheasant Tail #14-22, Black Copper John #20-22, Small Prince Nymphs, Black Pheasant Tail, Tung Psycho May, Split Case PMD, Tungsten Micro Mayfly Brown

Colorado River Pumphouse to Dotsero

Flow: 1160 cfs. @ Pumphouse
Conditions:  Flows have fallen back to a fantastic level for float anglers and a more manageable level for waders.  Clarity most days is 3 feet or more in most spots and conditions couldn’t be more ideal to take advantage of multiple hatches emerging from the river.  Strong hatches of Caddis continue to provide daily action and good amounts of PMDs and Yellow Sallies are good day-to-day.  As well, we are seeing some lesser hatches of small darker stones in olive and brown.  Dry-dropper fishing is an ideal way to start off the day for the current conditions and insect activity.  As the day, and insect hatches ramp up, you can switch to dries and target rising fish along the banks and on eddy lines.  If the dry action never materializes, just keep pitching the dry-dropper set-up.  We have found that clouds have made for some great double-dry action, or if you are into throwing the meat, the streamer fishing under the clouds has been pretty hot.  At this flow, fish are widely distributed in all water types.  However, on those days where the clouds never materialize look for fish to move into the oxygenated water that is associated with pockets, riffles and heavy runs. With the drop in flows and the surge in heat, there has been an explosion of moss over the past week or so.  Be prepared for a little extra maintenance if you are throwing nymphs.  Unfortunately, you can’t just shorten your indicator.  Because if you are nymphing and want to get down to where the fish are, you re going to drag up some salad throughout the day.

An additional thought on floating this stretch.  We see a lot of traffic on this river and at times it seems as if that breeds complacency and the inevitable incident.  Too often, we as fishermen don’t plan for the unthinkable of a boating mishap.  A little extra planning can go a long way to making that little more than just a damp inconvenience.  As they say “Rig to flip”.  We encourage you to secure all your loose equipment as well as possible.  Hopefully this will prevent you from having to check every eddy downstream for the next 5 miles for your fly boxes.  Lighten your load as much as possible before you launch in order to make your boat more maneuverable.  Pay attention to shifting currents and eddies. And for God’s Sake, wear your life jacket.  We don’t care how uncomfortable and hot they may be, there’s nothing macho about drowning.


Flies: Chubby Chernobyl, Twisted X, Tantrum, Mini Foamulator, Hippie Stomper, Sparklebug Caddis, Stimulator, Para Extended Body PMD, PGF, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Mr Rubberlegs Brown, Hurless Nymph, BH Hares Ear, BH Prince, BH Prince, BH Pheasant Tail, Tung Psycho Baetis, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Duracell Jig, Hammerhead Jig, Psycho Prince, Eggs, G6 Caddis, Stimulator, Hippie Stomper, Elk Hair Caddis, Twisted X, Chubby Chernobyl etc

Colorado Below Glenwood Springs

Flow: 3170 cfs.
Conditions:  Big improvements on the lower river. Although it is still big and will be overlooked for the more attractive Roaring Fork, fishing has returned to the Colorado below Glenwood.  Strong hatches of Yellow Sallies and some Baetis have been driving good action, as well as lesser amounts of PMDs.  With such big water focus on the edges where you can find any softer lie out of the current.  Big pockets, inside seams of riffles and eddy lines all provide good feeding lanes, as well.  Most anglers prefer to run deep nymph rigs for this bigger water until they find pockets of rising fish.  Although not as productive with dry-dropper rigs as other smaller rivers, we still find it worth the effort to fish with a big foam Stonefly or Attractor instead of a bobber.  Nymph imitations for Stones-both large Golden Stones and smaller Yellow Sallies, as well as Baetis, Caddis, PMDs and beaded searching patterns all work well.  If you aren’t familiar with this stretch of river it can be intimidating due to it’s size and structure.  Just remember to break it down into smaller pieces as you look at it and not try to fish the entire river at once.  It is big water more ideally covered with a boat 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.

Flies: Mr Peacock Ice, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Tungteaser, Bead Prince, Hot Wire Prince, Twenty Incher, Iron sally, Tungstone, Delektable Bug-Golden or Brown, Duracell Jig,Tungsten Pheasant Tail, Bead Hares Ear, Split Case Green Drake, San Juan Worm patterns, Zebra Midge, Lil Spanker, Tung Psycho May, Big Spanker, Rainbow Warrior, Magic Fly, RS-2, Bead Eggs, Otter Egg, Flossy Worm


Arkansas River Above Buena Vista

Flow: 490 cfs. @ Granite. 222 Hayden Meadows
Conditions: Some very good action along the entire upper basin of the Ark.  Strong hatches of Caddis along with scattered pockets of Yellow Sallies and PMDs.  The Green Drakes are waning but, you can still find them emerging day-to-day in spots.  As good as the action has been, there has been a lot of a angler interest in the far upper stretch near Hayden Meadows and Kobe.  If you find that to be the case when you get there, don’t hesitate to head down valley further and check out the area from Balltown down to Buena Vista.  Flows throughout are ideal for taking advantage of the action, with fish well distributed in all water types.  The beauty of the upper river is that is has a little something for everyone.  You can find deep boulder lined runs, pocket water, flats and riffles on the various public water stretches.  Start the day with a dry-dropper set up supported with a mid to large sized Stone, Hopper or attractor imitation trailing a mix of Stonefly, Caddis, Mayfly or beaded searching nymphs underneath.  Then as the morning progresses watch for those hatches to emerge and bring fish to the surface to cue you into when to switch to dries.  Or if you are totally committed to throwing dries, we have found good enough action prospecting for fish on a double dry set-up from the start of our day.  A small to medium sized attractor followed up with a Caddis or parachute Mayfly should do the trick.  3 to 5x should cover all situations.


Flies: Swisher’s PMX Golden, Chubby Chernobyl, Tantrum, Stimulator, Elk Hair Caddis, Para Wulff, Jake’s Green Drake, Dry Ice Drake, Furimsky’s Foam Drake, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Beaded Hares Ear, Hot Wire Prince, Beaded Pheasant Tail, Copper John, CDC Hares Ear, Twenty Incher, Mr Peacock, Holy Grail, Pat’s RL, Psycho Prince, Iron Sally, Tungsten Yellow Sally, Hammerhead Jig, Duracell Jig, Flossy Worm, Silver Bullet, Slumpbuster, Sparkle Minnow.

Arkansas River Salida Area

Flow: 684 cfs. @ Salida
Conditions: Finally, flows have slid into mid-summer levels on this productive river.  Wading may still be limited in some places but, there are plenty of spots to find productive water from mid-river riffles to soft water along the edges.  And float fishing is entering it’s prime summer window.  Look for fish to be well distributed throughout the entire river feeding on a mix of Caddis, PMD, Yellow Sally and Golden Stoneflies over the next several weeks.  Conditions are ideal for throwing a dry-dropper tight to the banks or along ledges and pockets in the morning and then switching up to a full on double dry set-up as the action to your surface offering increases.  After a fairly robust run-off, fish are quick to feed in order to replace calories burned during high water.  With a diverse insect population, there are plenty of patterns taking fish both above and below the surface.  That being said, streamer fishing can be very productive under these conditions if you can hit the holding lies, with a little bit of cloud cover.


Flies: Swisher’s PMX Golden, Chubby Chernobyl, PMX, Twisted X, Stimulator, Caddis Dries, 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, Hammerhead, Duracell Jig, Zebra Midge, Poison Tung, Rainbow Warrior, Brassie, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Silver Bullet, Sculpzilla, Slumpbuster, Olive/Black Wooly Bugger, Kreelox

Roaring Fork River at Glenwood Springs

Flow: 1270 cfs.
Conditions:  Flows have settled in at mid-summer levels and fishing remains solid. This is without a doubt the best time of year for this river. With good hatches of Green Drakes, PMDs, Yellow Sallies, Golden Stones and Caddis and every fish in the river needing to replace calories burned during run-off, action has been fantastic.  Clarity is solid at 3 feet and greater most days.  There is the chance for that to turn if a rain storm moves through and mucks up the Crystal.  Start the day off with a large foam attractor of Golden Stone on the surface, followed up with a mix of Caddis, Drake, PMD, Yellow Sally and beaded searching nymphs.  Look for rising fish to start late morning for PMDs and Sallies, at which point you may want to switch up to a double dry rig.  Mid-afternoon action has generally returned to the droppers, particularly on sunny days when it gets hot.  But, if you want the best action of the day, then stick around until evening, when the Green Drake emergence right before dark can drive some of the most frenzied dry fly action on any river in the state. The Drakes have moved up to Basalt and above but, continue to provide solid action for anglers that understand how to take advantage of the hatch. As well, they have turned up the Frying Pan and fish are responding well along that popular river.


Flies: Chubby Chernobyl, Swisher’s PMX Golden, Twisted X, Jake’s Green Drake, Colorado Green Drake, Brook’s Srpout Flav, Sulphur Dun, Para Extended Body PMD, Stimulator, Caddis Dries, Hippie Stomper, Tungsten Split Case Green Drake, CDC Green Drake Nymph, Twenty Incher #12-14, Tungteaser #12-14, Beaded Pheasant Tail #12-14, Pat’s Rubber Legs #8-10, Psycho Prince, G6 Caddis, Tungsten Yellow Sally, Tungstone, Beaded Hares Ear #12-14, CDC Prince #12-16, Hot Wire Prince #12-16, Standard Pheasant Tail #12-16, Tung Psycho May, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Duracell Jig, Root Beer Float

South Platte River, Middle Fork

Flow: 95 +/- cfs.
Conditions: Flows continue to fall and are finally at a level that offers good action.  Early summer on the middle fork is a dry fly anglers dream. Good hatches of Caddis, Sallies, PMDs and Drakes can provide good surface activity from late morning into mid- afternoon.  Longer if the clouds roll in.  Start the day of with a dry dropper using a mid-size foam terrestrial or attractor followed up with a mix of beaded searching nymphs and imitations for the Caddis, PMDs, Drakes and Sallies.  Once you start to see fish rising to naturals or better yet your dry, then switch up to a double dry rig with an attractor followed up by the hatch of the moment.


Flies: Chubby Chernobyl, Twisted X, Amy’s Ant, Mini Foamulator, Stimulator, Hippie Stomper, Parawulff, Parachute Adams, Royal Teaser, Beaded Prince, Duracell Jig, Hammerhead Jig, Red Collar PT, Beaded Pheasant Tail, Iron Sally, Tungsten Yellow Sally, Big Spanker, silver Bullet, Slumpbuster, Sparkle Minnow

South Platte, Dream Stream

Flow: 150 cfs.
Conditions:  Good action continues on the “Dream”.  Hatches of Caddis and Tricos remain the focus but, you may still find a PMD, as well as some good hopper action at times.  Stream flows are near perfect after a seemingly endless time under 100 through run-off.  With summer options being plentiful elsewhere, traffic has been very manageable for anglers.  Tricos will emerge very early in the morning then return to mate and fall to the river a few hours later.


Flies: Sparkle Bug, 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: 100 cfs
Conditions: Releases from the Dam continue to drop and are now getting to a point where there should be an increase in fish-able water.  Water is spilling from the dam over the top, bringing water temps up enough to spur hatches of Caddis and PMDs, as well there should be a few Red Quills showing up.  Look for nymphing to still be the best approach.  Tandem rigs with a mix of Baetis, Caddis and small Stonefly patterns along with San Juan Worm and Egg patterns.  Bump tippet back down to 5 and 6x along with moderate amount of weight.


Flies: Split Case PMD, Tungstone, 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: 435 cfs below Edwards
Conditions:  Flows are prime on the Eagle and now is the time to take advantage of one of the best rivers in the state while it lasts.  Without a major impoundment upriver, the Eagle is entirely native in it’s flow regiment.  There is no late summer release that will keep it high enough to float.  So, go now. Hatches of Caddis, PMDs and Yellow Sallies are still emerging from the river and fish are responding well to the variety. Now that flows have dropped and water temps are climbing, look for fish to be moving into the oxygenated water of riffles, pockets and mid-river runs.  Dry-dropper in the morning (or all day if you like) then switching to dries as individual hatches emerge and spur surface activity.  As well, the last two hours of daylight can be some of the most incredible dry fly fishing in the state.  Attractors and Caddis imitations along the banks and willows should produce non-stop action as the hatches ramp up.


Flies: Twisted X Yellow Sally, Sparkle Bug, Melon Quill, Stimulator, Hippie Stomper, Mini Foamulator, Para Wulff Purple, Chubby Chernobyl (small) Iron Sally, Duracell Jig, 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, G6 Caddis, Lite Bright Caddis, Tube Midge, Desert Storm, Barr’s Emerger, Juju stuff.

Spinney Mountain Reservoir

Conditions: Action has been fair to good depending on the day and weather. We like to fish the main body of the lake adjacent to the weed beds with either a static nymph rig or a slow retrieve streamer/damsel set up. For the nymph rigs a 2 or even 3 fly set up works with a mix of Chironomid, Calibaetis and Midge imitations, as well as some beaded searching patterns such as mid-sized Copper Johns, Hares Ears and Pheasant Tails. By running a multi-fly set up you can cover a good range of depths (for example top nymph at 4 feet, middle fly at 5 and 1/2 and bottom at 7) and see if there is a pattern to what depth is working, as well as which particular fly. This will change over the course of the day so, don’t get stuck at one depth for the entire day. As action slows make sure to continue to experiment with that depth of your indicator. The other tactic that can work early in the season right after the lake opens is to fish along the Dam with egg patterns for fish that are cruising in a spawn type behavior.

Flies: Chartreuse Copper John, Bead Pheasant Tail, Bead Hares Ear, Flash Back Hares Ear, Jumbo Juju, Rojo Grande, Yankee Buzzer, Zebra Midge, Skinny Nelson, Gaviglio’s Calibaetis Nymph, Eggs, Rapunzel, Hale Bopp Leech, Mohair Leech

Delaney Buttes Lakes

Conditions: Ice is off and it is starting to pick up along the shore and fish are cruising feeding on Eggs, and Midge/Chironomid type patterns. Should start to pick up along the weed beds now that the sun has started to warm water temps up a little. Look for Midges to be active over the next several weeks and then Calibaetis just about the time that rivers are hitting peak run-off and you need a alternative to moving water.

Flies: Eggs, Rojo Grande, Jumbo Juju, Zebra, Skinny Nelson, CDC Pheasant Tail, Hare’s Ear, Gaviglio’s Calibaetis, Duracell Jig, Hammerhead Jig etc

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