Colorado Fishing Report

February 18th, 2017

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)

Winter Hours:

Monday – Friday 8 am – 6 pm

Saturday 7:30 am – 6 pm

Sunday 8 am – 5 pm

 

Recent Update: February 17, 2017

 

Spring-like weather continues to dominate the high country this week, and looks like it should stretch into the early half of the weekend.  As a result, fishing conditions continue to be ahead of schedule for this time of year.  With the exception of the upper Arkansas above Lake Creek, most of our freestone rivers are busting open and allowing for a wider range of options for anglers with cabin fever.  The lower Arkansas, Eagle, Colorado and Roaring Fork are all about a month ahead of schedule with regards to retreat of Winter ice.

That being said, Water temperatures may not be quite as advanced as the ice melt, so keep that in mind with regards to the insect activity.  Generally speaking, we are seeing fairly wide spread Midge activity on most rivers.  But, it shouldn’t be long before the Baetis start popping on our lower elevation stretches such as the Roaring Fork, Eagle and Ark.

With the above average temperatures, there have also been some periods of off-color water in each of these rivers as localized snow melt is carrying some road sand and debris into them from time to time.  If you do encounter cloudy water don’t panic, most of what we are seeing are just waves passing through.  Most of the time you can find cleaner water by changing locations on the same river.  Although generally we think of heading up river to get above where the dirty water is coming in, with this type of situation you may also be able to head down river and get in front of the wave of off-color water.

 

A couple of “must-haves” on the river for the cold conditions are: warm and wind resistant gloves, hand warmers, Buff head wear, wool socks (protect your feet), Ketchum Release tool (for limiting handling of fish in sub zero temperatures), ice off paste, boot spikes, good base layers, thin leader and tippet sizes and small bugs. Being comfortable is key while fishing in the winter. Make sure to adjust your tippet size for the lower and clear flows that are typical for this time of year. It might be time once again to make sure you have some 5x with you at all times and dare we say, a spool of 6x for certain locations.

Detail 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: 98 cfs.
Conditions: Temperatures over the past week have been slightly above average, offering some fairly comfortable conditions for anglers a little ahead of schedule for Spring.  That being said its a good time to get out on the water.  The Blue River here in the town of Silverthorne is a great place to get started.  Tailwater conditions remain, as the bottom release is here to stay until Denver Water decides that there is enough snow-pack to warrant a purge of the stored water in the reservoir.  Look for the feeding to be mostly subsurface, on the typical tailwater patterns for Midges and Baetis.  As well, because we are continuing to see a bottom feed there are Mysis entering the river from the lake.  Although, the bug fishing has been more consistent than the shrimpin’, once they make the decision to get ready for spring by releasing more water, we will begin to see a tremendous amount of Mysis pour into the river from the lake.  Black, Red and shades of Brown have been solid along with some flashier colors producing at times.  As flows remain at these winter levels, tippet size needs to stay light.  5 and 6x seem to be getting the job done, either mono or fluoro.  Even though flows are still low, don’t overlook the need for weight at this time of year.  Still one of the greatest factors separating nymph fishermen from successful nymph fishermen is misreading the amount of weight for the situation.  Try at least a BB size split shot to help you get down. There may now be the opportunity to throw dries here in town, if you are committed to that sort of thing.  However, it will be very sporadic and not likely to be wide spread.  If you happen upon rising fish, emergent Midge imitations in Black, Grey and Chocolate have worked for us.  Traffic on the river has been day-to-day, with some days virtually deserted while others standing room only.  Hard to say why but, it seems as with the milder temperatures there is more open water elsewhere, thus providing more options.  Going forward into the spring the air temps will be rising and so will traffic.

 

Town Flies: Flossy Worm, 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, 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, And work in a streamer every once in a while, as well. Often over looked but, randomly deadly.


Blue River Below Green Mountain

Flow: 231 +/- cfs.
Conditions: Flows continue to run at their Winter levels, which will be the low flow for the season.  This has effectively shut down the float season for the Blue, but at the same time returned the canyon to a viable wade fishing destination once again.  Crossing the river is now possible for most waders, more than doubling the amount of access downstream.  Look for nymphing to be the most consistent approach throughout the day as the cold and dark character of the canyon will limit all but sporadic hatches of Midges.  Although Baetis and Midge larva and pupa imitations will be the most productive patterns to throw, there can also be some decent action at times on a multitude of flies due to the diverse food supply here.  Typically, we would rig up with either a Midge or Baetis as the trailing fly and in front of that run anything from a Stonefly, to a Baetis, or a Drake or searching nymph imitation.  Even though those larger bugs may not be hatching at this time of year, their nymphs are in the river and may be migrating, molting or become dislodged and end up drifting and available.  At this time of year look for fish to be sheltering in water that allows them to conserve as much energy as possible such as deeper and slower runs, as well as the tail outs of pools and flats or along the inside edge of eddy lines.  Your tippet size should be around 4 and 5x and make sure to use enough weight to get it down to those fish holding tight to the bottom.  If you haven’t fished this spot in the winter, be prepared for an icebox scenario.  With the combination of an inversion and a canyon that blocks out direct sunlight, this spot can be 10 to 15 degrees colder than here in Silverthorne.  Dress warmer than you think you need to.  And definitely be careful on the climb down to the river from the parking lot, nothing ruins a day like doing the “slide for life” into the river before you even wet your line.

 

Flies: Big bead heads: Deep Dish Green Drake, Hare’s Ear, Tungteaser, Pheasant Tail, Stubby Stone, Twenty Incher, Rubberlegs, Psycho Prince, Green Drake Nymph, Duracell Jig, Flossy Worm. The Smaller Stuff: Aero Baetis, RS-2, Tung Psycho May, Split Case BWO, Barr’s BWO, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Juju Baetis, Red Neck Midge, Tube Midge, Biot Pupa, Mirage Zebra,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: 280 cfs. +/-
Conditions: Flows remain steady with the aid of the Williams Fork Tailwater release, making this a solid winter destination for wade anglers. Depending on the volume of that release and the overnight temperatures the amount of open water can vary but, it is fairly stable down to the first run or two below the bridge in the middle of The Breeze Unit State Wildlife Area.  As with most winter fishing spots, nymphing will be the most consistent approach using a tandem rig under an indicator.  While you should focus on Baetis and Midge larva and pupa imitations, there can also be some success on small searching nymphs such as Pheasant Tails and Copper Johns.  Low and clear flows will necessitate tippet from 5 to 6x either in mono or fluorocarbon.  Don’t overlook the importance of using enough weight.  Make sure to have enough to get your flies down to the depths where fish will be sheltering to conserve energy.  As well, you want to start off in deep runs, tail outs of flats or the inside edge of eddy lines.  These types of lies will allow for almost no exertion from fish.  Then as the sun warms the water and insect activity picks up, look for trout to move a little closer to current lines to feed on drifting nymphs.  While you may see some activity early in the day, more likely that action is going to be most consistent from late in the morning to mid afternoon when the day is at its warmest.  Now that we have passed the Winter Solstice and the days will be getting longer, we can see a light at the end of the tunnel.  As the days get warmer be ready for Baetis season.

 

Flies: Pat’s Rubber Legs, Hurless Stone Nymph, Flossy Worm, 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 BWO, Tungsten Micro Mayfly Brown, Tungsten Juju Baetis, Aero Baetis, Root Beer Float, Zebra Midge, Red Neck Midge, Biot Midge, 5-0 Midge, WD40, Pure Midge Larva


Colorado River Pumphouse to Dotsero

Flow: 525 +/- cfs. @ Pumphouse
Conditions:  The above average temperatures have all but cleared the river of ice, with just a few chunks hanging on in the shadier locations.  This is a good 3 to 4 weeks ahead of schedule and a welcome sign to winter weary anglers.  Yet the river has not fully transitioned into Spring completely, as water temperatures will still be a little behind that advance.  With a continuation of above average temperatures in the near future we expect those to start creeping up and generating a wider range of insect activity. Results have be most consistent using nymphs and midge patterns. We continue to fish classic tandem nymph rigs with minimal weight.  Between Pumphouse and Dotsero, look for sunny and deep spots with slow moving water.  Midge larva and pupa along with Baetis nymphs behind a beaded searching pattern or even a standard Pat’s would be as good as any rig to start with at this time of year.  With the Middle Park inversion having an effect on air temperatures, overnight lows here can take a little while to rebound during the day.  That being the case, don’t be too impatient with the action, it might not be until late morning/early afternoon before fish respond to your flies.  The Colorado River could be a very rewarding place to fish.  It most certainly is gorgeous this time of year! Floating the Colorado is not far off. We will keep you posted when we find the canyons opening up, as we patiently wait until hotter days and higher flows.  Until then, enjoy some good wade fishing while it lasts!

 

Flies: Lil Spanker, Juju Baetis, Mayfly Micro, Root-beer Float, Two Bit Hooker, Zebra Midge, Glassy Brassie, Black Mirage, RS2, Redneck Midge, Blood Midge, Black Copper John, Pat’s Rubber Legs, San Juan Worm,Huevos


Colorado Below Glenwood Springs

Flow: 1450 cfs.
Conditions:  A great option at this time of year, as flows are fairly low and clear, giving the river an angler friendly condition, both for wading and floating.  At an elevation around 5,700 feet, the climate along the lower river can offer a nearly year round freestone option, with just a 5 or 6 week window that might produce ice flow in the channel.  Results have been most consistent on nymph patterns fished as part of a traditional tandem nymph rig.  A wide mix of imitations are still in play including Stoneflies, Baetis, Midges and searching patterns.  Although the river is near seasonal lows for the year, it is still a big river that can intimidate anglers on their first trip to fish it.  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 for both wading and floating anglers. Make sure to be thorough in your covering of water types while searching for where fish are active.  Big pockets, inside seams of riffles and eddy lines all provide good feeding lies for fish.  Clarity at the moment is as good as it gets on this stretch and with that you may want to drop down to 4 and 5x for your rig.  This stretch consistently produces some of the nicest Rainbows on the Colorado River and late winter and early spring is a great time to get out and explore this overlooked location.

 

Flies: Pat’s Rubber Legs, Tungteaser, Bead Prince, Twenty Incher, Iron sally, Tungstone, Delektable Bug-Golden or Brown, Duracell Jig,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, Bead Eggs, Otter Egg, Flossy Worm


 

Arkansas River Above Buena Vista

Flow: 263 cfs. @ Granite
Conditions: Flows have stayed steady over the past month. These winter flows will make it difficult to find open water. (Anything above lake creek will be pretty much iced over and out of play until Spring.) But where there is open water, it may yield a little bit of action. Keep in mind it will be a methodical and steady approach as insect activity at this elevation will be limited at this time of year. Tandem nymph rigs anchored with either a small Stonefly, Mayfly or searching nymph followed up with a Baetis or Midge larva/pupa will offer the best set up to prospect for fish. Look for fish to be holding in some of the deeper runs, with slower currents and a little bit of depth for cover. As with most winter options, no need to rush out there at the crack of dawn. Wait until mid-day and fish the warmest part of the day. Remember these areas are at or near 10,000′, make sure you have the proper attire and equipment for the cold weather.

 

Flies: Aero Baetis, Tung Psycho May, Juju Baetis, Pure Midge Larva, Red Neck Midge, Biot Pupa, Mirage Zebra Midge, Duracell, Copper John, BH Pheasant Tail, BH Hare’s Ear, Lil Spanker, Hot Wire Prince, Psycho Prince, Hammerhead Jig, Flossy Worm, Silver Bullet, Sparkle Minnow.


Arkansas River Salida Area

Flow: 430 cfs. @ Salida
Conditions:  We have found the most consistent open water in the valley from Stone Bridge down to Salida, where there is a greater exposure to sun to help keep the river open.  However, the past week or so has been very warm in the Salida valley and more water is opening up daily down stream, into Big Horn Sheep Canyon.  Action continues to be strong enough to offer a decent destination away from the crowds on some of the more popular winter fisheries.  Time between 10am and 3:30pm will likely produce the most.  Early in the day, focus your efforts on the winter holding water such as deeper and slower current runs, or in eddies just off the seams.  As temperatures climb late in the morning/early afternoon, look for fish to venture out into a little more current to feed on drifting nymphs.  Clear water along with the slow lies will call for finer tippet in the 5 to 6x range.  Fish a tandem nymph rig with a mix of searching nymphs, small Stoneflies and Mayflies as the lead followed up with a small Baetis nymph or Midge larva/pupa.

 

Flies: Beadhead Pheasant Tail, Beadhead Prince, Beadhead Hare’s Ear, Red or Chartreuse Copper John, Hot Wire Prince, Psycho Prince, Hammerhead, Duracell Jig, Zebra Midge, Poison Tung, Rainbow Warrior, Brassie, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Mirage Midge, Red Neck Midge, Biot Pupa Midge


Roaring Fork River at Glenwood Springs

Flow: 417 cfs.
Conditions: Flows are low and clear offering good wade fishing throughout the valley.  A good option through the Winter.  Although nymphing will offer the best action daily, there are still pockets of rising fish to be found when cloud cover and emerging insects provide the right conditions.  Midges and Baetis will be the bulk of the actual active insects, but with a very diverse biomass in the river don’t hesitate to drift Stonefly, Caddis and small searching patterns along with those hatch matching imitations.  Late morning to mid-afternoon will be most productive once the water has a chance to rebound from overnight lows, with a little bit of sun on the water being a positive scenario.  The public water through Glenwood will enjoy the warmer temps on the river but, don’t overlook the access up in Basalt where tailwater flows from the Frying Pan can give a little shot of life to the river up valley.

 

Flies: Midge Emergers, UV Emerger, Tungteaser, Beaded Pheasant Tail, Pat’s Rubber Legs #8-10, Psycho Prince, Tungsten Yellow Sally, Tungstone, CDC Prince, Hot Wire Prince, Standard Pheasant Tail, Tung Psycho May, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Duracell Jig, Root Beer Float, Foam Wing RS2,


South Platte River, Middle Fork

Flow: 20 +/- cfs.
Conditions: Pretty much iced up for all practical purposes. Check back in the Spring

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: 67cfs.
Conditions:  Stream flows have bumped back up after plummeting a couple of weeks back.  This is good news for the potential of a successful spawn. That is if we can keep too many people from wading through beds, or just as bad, harassing fish while they spawn by hooking them.  This spot seems to suffer from the largest collective ignorance of any in the state.  And by ignorance, we are hoping that it is just that, people are uninformed on the damage that they could be doing, rather than indifferent to the damage that they are causing, all in the name of a photo of a big fish.  We have all seen it happen.  There are anglers that stand over spawning beds and cast at fish trying to procreate.  If you don’t already know, this is the single most stressful time of the year for any fish.  Any additional stress on that fish very well could cause at the least an unsuccessful spawn and at worst, death.  With the lure of big fish in shallow water it’s too much for uneducated anglers to resist.  If you must go, PLEASE do not fish to fish that are actively on spawning beds.  There are still resident fish in the river, as well as fish that are in water that is not conducive to spawning. Please think about the long term health of our fisheries.

 

Flies: Loop Wing Emerger, Pure Midge Larva Black or Pale Olive, Black, Red, Chartreuse Copper John, Juju Baetis, Buckskin, Caddis Larva, 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: 75cfs
Conditions:  Releases from the Dam remain low and clear. Midges are starting to take over in the volume for most active insects at the moment but, there are still some pockets of Blue Wings on individual days. Tandem rigs with a mix of those Midges and Baetis, along with the odd Caddis and small Stonefly imitation or San Juan Worm and Egg patterns have been seeing the most consistent results. Bump tippet back down to 5 and 6x along with moderate amount of weight. Look for water types that offer good cover from predators and avoid fishing over spawning fish. Being a tailwater, the water temperatures are much more stable in their daily swing, thus offering the potential to see action throughout the day. (You don’t have to wait for water to warm up as it comes out of the dam at the same temperature day or night and the fish have acclimated to that.) Which is good since you generally have to get there early to beat the traffic.

 

Flies: Split Case BWO, Poxy-Biot Nymph, Buckskin, Flossy Worm, Little Brown Bug, Two Bit Hooker, Flash Back Pheasant Tail, Tungsten Micro Mayfly, 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: 197 cfs at Gypsum
Conditions: Definitely low and clear right now but, action continues to offer enough of a reason to get out on the river.  Fortunately for anglers the Eagle is one of the few rivers in the central part of the state that has a fairly even distribution of Browns and Rainbows.  Nymphing has been most productive, under an indicator.  Midges are comprising the majority of insect activity right now and imitations for them have had the most consistent results.  However, with the diverse cross section of hatches this river enjoys over the course of the year we would encourage you to add a Caddis, Stonefly, Baetis or searching nymph to your set-up in tandem with your favorite Midge pupa.  Conditions dictate 5 and 6x tippet for the best results. Look for fish to be sheltering in water that offers them a little more cover from predators, such as deeper runs, pockets or as the water warms.  With a lower elevation and wide open valley to offer plenty of sun, the Eagle sees a nice swing in water temperature over the course of the day from Wolcot down to Dotsero, providing a lot of room for anglers to spread out on.  Above Wolcot is still quite frozen but, should start breaking up fast with the warming temperatures.

 

Flies: 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, Biot Midge, Red Neck Midge, Mirage 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: Closed for the season.

Flies:


Delaney Buttes Lakes

Conditions: Ice

Flies: Eggs, Hale Bopp Leech, Squirrel Leech, Egg Sucking Leech, Rojo Grande, Jumbo Juju, Zebra, CDC Pheasant Tail, Hare’s Ear, Duracell Jig, Hammerhead Jig etc


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