Colorado Fishing Report

July 18th, 2015

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 17, 2015

 

Conditions across the high country are fantastic in just about every drainage.  There are still a couple of spots that are on the high end of summer flows but, if you can’t find good fishing right now you might have blinders on.

We have already started to see the summer monsoon show up and that is a huge part of what is driving the action.  A combination of strong hatches and afternoon clouds makes for steady, day long feeding.  There have been some localized heavy rains, that can have an impact on conditions of a particular stretch of river but, for the most part we have seen good clarity across the area.

While most rivers have hit their summer groove, there are a couple of spots that continue to run higher than average for this time of the year.  In particular the upper Colorado in the Parshall area and the Dream Stream section of the Platte.

Although these flows may be higher than some are comfortable with, they offer some of the first post run-off chances at hungry trout that have not yet been too pressured by crowds of anglers. Often times the key factor for success at this time of year is just getting a cast into any available soft water, with a reasonable fly imitation. Seeing that summer hatches of PMDs, Caddis, Yellow Sallies, just to name a few, are ramping up everywhere, it should be pretty easy to find a few reasonable patterns for current conditions.

The big difference to the high flows now that they have started to fall, will be clarity. When rivers rise they generally inundate previously dry channels and bank sides, picking up debris and sediment that had been “high and dry”. That is what causes the majority of color in the water. Once those flows peak and re-establish a river channel, that debris will be moved downstream and the stream bottom will stabilize, and along with it clarity.

 

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: 650 cfs.
Conditions:  Flows have been generally trending down but, late yesterday afternoon there was an upward adjustment from the dam.  We are guessing that this is due to an increase in the inflow to the reservoir from rain this week and we expect that to be short lived.  The lake is now full and the majority of the water in the river is over flow from that.  This is the most desired management method of the reservoir for anglers because, when the lake spills over, water temperatures rise dramatically, which in turn produce some fantastic hatches through town and below.  Including Caddis, PMDs and the elusive Green Drake, we haven’t seen any huge emergence of any of these yet but, there have been some sporadic numbers around.  Although flows are down from their peak levels, they are still robust in volume so, focus on any soft water that you can find, no matter how small, along the edges, on the inside of bends and below islands.  Nymphing continues to offer the best approach with a mix of PMD, Egg, Worm and Baetis patterns carrying the lion’s share of success but, also some action on streamers, large stones and searching patterns as well.  Due to the continued above average flows, weight will continue to be a major factor in your success.  Keep in mind that most of the fish you are targeting are holding in very small/short lies.  This will require your flies to drop very quickly in order to get in front of the fish before blowing past them into the heavy current.  We are still recommending at least a single BB to start with and then bump it up or down accordingly depending on location.  Same thing for tippet.  Start with 3X and adjust up or down if needed.  Although, we wouldn’t expect to land too many if dropping to 4X.  Evening has also been producing some modest dry fly action for those that stick around for it.  Small to medium terrestrials and attractors, along with PMD imitations.  Traffic on the river has been typical for town and some days there will be plenty of competition.  Be patient and show your fellow angler a little courtesy by not crowding into water that may not support more than one angler.

 

Town Flies: Stalcup’s Mysis, Split Case PMD, Tungsten Psycho May-Black,  Copper John 16-20, Kingery’s Cap’n Hook, Tube Midge – Black or Red, RS-2 – Black or Dun, WD40 – Black or Chocolate, Two Bit Hooker, Zebra Midge, Otter Soft Milking Egg, Bead Eggs, Wooly Bugger Black or Olive, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Flossy Worn, Hippie Stomper, Para Wulff, Sparkle Adams – Purple, Chubby Cernobyl


Blue River Below Green Mountain

Flow: 1060 cfs.
Conditions:  Although there has been some day-to-day fluctuation of about 100 cfs, the flow here seems to have leveled off.  At this level it will still be very high but, there should be enough water available for a few experienced wade fishermen to find some action.  If you go your best bet will probably be a tandem nymph rig with a mix of larger Stonefly patterns, beaded searching nymphs, large Mayfly imitations and San Juan Worms.   Typical of heavy flows, make sure to bump up your tippet size and the amount of weight on your rig.  Look for any soft edge water or eddy seams that may offer a sheltered lie for trout with access to a food stream.  However, it shouldn’t be long before thick hatches of Caddis, Drakes, Sallies and PMDs are pouring off the river.  Keep and eye out for those in the next week or so.  Generally speaking the good hatches of Summer start a little later here than on other rivers in the area, and when they do they seem to last a little longer, as well.  Once again a decent option for boaters to get down the river although, still on the high side for getting nymphs to drop in the column before you blow through a hole, as the river is moving pretty fast.  Bump up that weight and tippet.

 

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. Dries: Winger Parachute BWO, CDC Baetis Parachute Dun, Mole Fly, Sparkle Baetis, No Hackle Slate Gray.

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.


Colorado River Above Kremmling (Parshall)

Flow: 1285 cfs. @ Parshall
Conditions:    Still on the high side for this popular stretch of river but, some noticeable improvement to conditions.  Clarity is great and additional quiet water opens up daily.  Look for summer hatches to ramp up with Caddis, PMDs, Yellow Sallies and even an odd Red Quill to emerge over the next several weeks.  Concentrate on the quiet water along the banks, as well as the inside of riffles and below islands.  This is still a good amount of water and wading will be limited, with crossing out of the question.  However, the higher flow will help keep angler traffic down, providing less pressured fish for those that undertake the challenge.  Although nymphs will be the most consistent method throughout the day, as these summer hatches emerge there will be periods of surface activity towards the bottom of riffles onto adjacent flats and pockets.

 

Flies: Pat’s Rubber Legs, Kaufman Stonefly Nymph, Beaded Pheasant Tail, Beaded Prince, Twenty Incher, Iron Sally, Graphic Caddis, Tungsten Yellow Sally, Poxybiot Nymph, Nitro Caddis, Tungsten Split Case PMD, Buckskin Caddis, San Juan Worm Patterns


Colorado River Pumphouse to Dotsero

Flow: 2400 cfs. @ Pumphouse
Conditions:  Although this may still be a little higher than many are used to, this is a fantastic flow on the upper Colorado.  Less than 3 weeks from peak levels at 8,000, fish are hungry and feeding with intensity.  Now is the time to hit this stretch while fish are still replenishing calories burned surviving run-off.  Clarity is incredible, with over 4 feet of visibility it is easy to see structure and obstacles.  Summer hatches of Caddis, PMDs, Yellow Sallies and Dark Stones are emerging from Gore all the way down past Catamount.  In most places the river will be back within it’s banks, providing a defined channel to focus on.  Look for soft water along the edges, below structure and islands , as well as seams adjacent to riffles.  Nymphs will work well throughout the day, either as part of a dry/dropper set-up or a in a tandem nymph rig.  Imitations for the current hatches have all been productive as well as continued success on large Stonefly nymphs and beaded searching patterns.  Hatches have produced some solid dry fly action as well when adults are present.  Typically that has been mid-morning til early afternoon and then again the last two hours of daylight.  If it’s cloudy that can shift the prime time to most of the afternoon.  The streamer bite still seems a little inconsistent, considering the volume of water and trouble that can cause fingerling trout and smaller fish like Sculpin.

Flies: Chubby Chernobyl, Kaufman Stonefly Nymph, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Tungsten Split Case PMD, Poxybiot Nymph, Beaded Pheasant Tails, Beaded Hares Ears, Hot Wire Prince, Ice Prince Blue, Bead Head Prince, Iron Sally, Tungsten Yellow Sally, Tungsten Prince, Rubber Leg Mr Peacock, San Juan Worm patterns, Miscellaneous Streamers: Sculpzilla, Silver Bullet, Space Invader, Beldar, Bead Head Buggers in Black or White


Colorado Below Glenwood Springs

Flow: 5,600 cfs.
Conditions:   Back in play in after run-off.  Although, it can still be a little unstable depending on the Monsoon rains that can blow out individual tributaries.  There is always some color this far down the drainage but, it can fish great as long as you have a little visibility.  The key to judging clarity along the lower river is to remember the simple adage “green is good, brown is down.  Look for Caddis, Sallies and PMDs to still be relatively prevalent, with just a few Drakes left, as they are moving up the Fork fairly quick.  Which will be part of the allure to this stretch right now, as the big hatches are blowing up on the Fork, most of the traffic is up there leaving very little competition on the Colorado.  Generally speaking, nymph rigs will work throughout the day but, with cloud cover and emerging insects there will be localized pockets of rising fish.

Flies: Mr Peacock Ice, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Tungteaser, Bead Prince, Hot Wire Prince, Twenty Incher, Tungsten Pheasant Tail, Bead Hares Ear, San Juan Worm patterns.


 

Arkansas River Above Buena Vista

Flow: 1500 cfs. @ Granite. 650 Hayden Meadows
Conditions: Action has been great in the upper part of the valley, above Balltown, where Lake Creek dumps in and more than doubles the flow.  Good hatches of Caddis along with some PMDs, Drakes and Sallies are driving good results on both nymph and dry imitations.  Traffic has been brisk at times, as this has been one of the better access points for wade anglers as higher flows have lingered in other popular locations.  That should start to ease a little as those are now receding.  Many are familiar with the access at Hayden Meadows and Kobe but, don’t overlook other spots in the upper valley such as the Reddy lease and the off the beaten path entrance to Barry’s Bluff. (if you need help finding these, give us a call) As for downstream of Lake Creek, flows are still on the high side but, they are clear and fishing has been good focusing on the soft water along edges, inside bends and riffles.  Perfect for a dry dropper using a large attractor of foam Stonefly pattern on the surface and trailing a mix of beaded Stonefly and searching nymphs.  Look for Caddis, Baetis and Sallies to be scattered about and evening dry fly opportunities may be productive from day to day by just hitting the soft spots and instigating a rise from a sheltering lie.  The key to fishing the slightly higher water with dries or nymphs right now will be to focus on the available soft water that offers some refuge to fish while flows are still coming down.  This will require you to cover some distance, you can’t just roll up to the river and camp on a run for 2 hours and hope to continue to catch fish.  Find some quiet water, give it some thorough attention and then move upstream looking for the next sheltered lie, repeat the process.  The sheltering water that is out there right now are generally small spots, that might only hold a couple of fish and then you will have to move to another spot to find the next couple of fish.

 

Flies: Two bit Hooker, Beaded Hares Ear, Hot Wire Prince, Beaded Pheasant Tail, Copper John, CDC Hares Ear, Twenty Incher, Mr Peacock,  Flossy Worm, Stimulator, Hippie Stomper, Parachute Adams, Parachute Extended Body BWO, Sprout Baetis, Mole Fly, Sparkle Baetis, Stimulator, Elk Hair Caddis, Pearl and Elk Caddis, Foam Caddis, Para Wulff Purple


Arkansas River Salida Area

Flow: 1100 cfs. @ Salida
Conditions:  Stream flows are leveling of at prime levels and action is starting to heat up.  Clarity through town and into Big Horn Sheep Canyon is in great shape with just the right balance of enough visibility to see the contour of the river bottom, without being too clear for sheltering fish.  At this level dry-dropper can be very productive with either a large Stonefly or attractor pattern on top trailed by a mix of Stonefly – Golden or Yellow Sally- and beaded searching nymphs.  We are finding fish in the quiet water along the banks, in pockets and along riffles and ledges.  These are good flows for allowing for the fish to disperse off of the bank and into other favorable lies for fishing.  Pale Morning Duns have been emerging in the early afternoon and the dry fly action has been good with those imitations particularly on cloudy afternoons.

 

 

Flies: Beadhead Pheasant Tail, Beadhead Prince, Beadhead Hare’s Ear, Red or Chartreuse Copper John, Hot Wire Prince, Tungteaser, Tungstone, Biot Epoxyback Stone, Iron Sally, Psycho Prince, Hot Wire Prince, Elk Hair Caddis, Stimulator, Foam Caddis, Spotlight Caddis, Hippie Stomper, Parachute Mayfly imitations, Para Extended PMD, Parachute Sulphur, Chubby Chernobyl, Fuzzy Wuzzy, Foamulator


Roaring Fork River at Glenwood Springs

Flow: 1800 cfs.
Conditions:  Ideal conditions on one of the most prolific bug factories in the west.  Strong hatches of Caddis, PMDs, Yellow Sallies Golden Stones and Green Drakes are emerging up and down the river.  Flows are perfect for hitting the banks and riffles from a drift boat, with good clarity to read the contour and identify obstacles.  Late in the morning there is a light emergence of Drakes from Carbondale down towards Westbank but, the real action for that hatch is the lightning round with the evening hatch just before dark.  Look for Sallies and PMDs late morning into early afternoon.  We like to start off the day with a dry-dropper rig using a large Golden Stone or foam attractor to suspend a mix of beaded imitations for the Drakes, PMDs and Sallies.  Then as those hatches emerge, watch for fish to rise and switch up to a double dry set up using a Stimulator to a Drake imitation.  As the surface activity dies down in the early afternoon then switch back to the sub-surface imitations again, until evening when bank hugging fish will be looking up for those Drakes.

 

Flies: Twenty Incher, Tungteaser, Iron Sally, Tungsten Split Case Green Drake, Bead Green Drake Nymph, Beaded Pheasant Tail, Standard Pheasant Tail, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Tungstone, Copper Johns, Hares Ear, Mr. Peacock, CDC Prince, Hot Wire Prince, Stimulator, Chubby Chernobyl, PMX, Colorado Green Drake, Jake’s Green Drake, H & D Para Green Drake, Parachute Extended Body PMD, Parachute Purple, Parachute Sulphur


South Platte River, Middle Fork

Flow: 120 +/- cfs.
Conditions:  Ideal flows and conditions for summer wading.  Strong hatches of Caddis, with decent amounts of PMDs, Sallies and Drakes scattered around.  At this level the river is bank to bank, providing for well dispersed trout and good feeding lies.  Early in the day start with a dry-dropper using a medium to large attractor, such as a Stimulator or Chubby Chernobyl, followed up with a mix of beaded searching patterns, PMD, Drake and Caddis nymphs.  Look for fish to rise later in the morning as the hatches begin to emerge and last into early afternoon.  This will last longer on overcast days, as the Monsoon pattern has been very consistent so far this summer.  However, you don’t have to wait for an emergence to fish dries.  This is a great place to prospect with them anytime.  Not only will fish take adult insects returning to lay eggs but, there is a wide range of terrestrials along this meadow stream, including ants, hoppers and beetles.   When the dry fly fishing fails to produce, try a deeper dropper or full nymph rig in some of the deep, bend pools.  And this is a great place to find aggressive little browns, willing to chase down the larger meal of a streamer.

 

Flies: Chartreuse Copper John, Psycho Prince, Hot Wire Prince, Beaded Flash Prince, Tungteaser, Tungsten Hare’s Ear, Iron Sally, Tungsten Yellow Sally, Tungsten Split Case Green Drake, Tungsten Split Case PMD, Autumn Splendor, Slumpbuster, Sparkle Bugger, Silver Bullet


South Platte, Dream Stream

Flow: 576cfs.
Conditions: Very large but, very clean, and a big improvement from peak flows last week of 980 cfs.  This will be a slower, steady decline compared to other rivers in the state.  Along with the run-off increases, Denver Water needs to drain Antero Reservoir upstream, which will impact flows here for some time.  At these high flows it is a South Platte experience so far from the norm that everybody should at least go check it out.  Sure it’s not ideal conditions, but there are fish to be had and enough soft water edges to find them on.  Sight fishing will be less than ideal in most places, which may limit your productivity as this place is best fished when you are targeting fish that you can see.  However, where you can’t spot em, concentrate on those soft water edges with a mix of nymphs including Caddis Larva, PMDs, Scuds and San Juan Worms.  Step up your tippet from the typical minute diameters required here to at least 4x and bump up the weight as well.  The most overlooked adjustment to be made will be the amount of weight added to the line.  This is often the single largest determination between success and the skunk.  Don’t be shy with your split shot.  This is where sight nymphing can really help illustrate how much weight it takes to get your flies down to holding/feeding fish. Keep an eye on the target fish as your rig drifts into his feeding lane and see how the fish reacts.  Often times no reaction can mean the fish didn’t even see the fly.  Whereas even a refusal to your offering at least meant the fish has seen it and just didn’t like it for one reason or another.

 

Flies: Loop Wing Emerger, Pure Midge Larva Black or Pale Olive, Black, Red, Chartreuse Copper John, Juju Baetis, Buckskin, Caddis Larva, Hunchback Scud, Poxybiot Nymph, Desert Storm Chartreuse, Tube Midge, Poison Tung, Zebra Midge Black/Silver, Barr’s Emerger BWO, RS2, Poxybiot Nymph, Egg Patterns, Cap’n Hook, Disco Midge, San Juan Work variations


Williams Fork River Below Dam

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Flow: 388 cfs.
Conditions: Flows have dropped and are holding steady.  While this is still a higher than average flow, it is a very manageable level for experienced anglers.  Look for fish to be fairly well distributed in most water types, as this will have good bank to bank coverage.  As with all above average flow situations, adjust your strategy as much as you adjust your set-up.  First, with regards to your set-up, increase both your tippet size and the amount of weight added to your line.  Look for those sheltered lies and quiet water along the edges to find fish holding out of the heavier current.  A wide range of patterns should work for the time being as the large flows will carry more food, as well.  San Juan Worm, small Stonefly nymphs, Caddis and Mayfly imitations should all produce some action.  This is still a much better option in this valley than just below its confluence with the Colorado River.  With that popular piece of water currently out of it’s banks in spots, a lot of the usual angler pressure that will frequent it at this time of year will now move up onto the Willie’s.  So, be prepared to find above average traffic at times.

 

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


Eagle River

 Flow: 550-1000
Conditions:  Clarity is fantastic in the upper valley and maintains solid fish quality visibility all the way down through Gypsum.  Good hatches of Caddis, PMDs and Yellow Sallies are emerging from the river.  Look for Caddis early in the morning, with PMDs and Sallies late morning into early afternoon.  Action has been solid with a dry-dropper set up fishing 2 droppers, which helps add weight for the flies to drop quickly in the pockets adjacent to the swift currents of this river.  As the emergence starts, keep an eye out for rising fish feeding on the current hatch.  That can be day-to-day depending on conditions, as well as volume of the emergence.  Streamer fishing has been productive but, that may slow now that flows are dropping and fish are pulling back from the banks towards mid channel lies.  The evening lightning round that this river is know for has been very consistent as well.  Double dry fly set ups have been very productive using a mix of attractor, Caddis and parachute Mayfly imitations.

 

Flies:  Chubby Chernobyl, Stimulator, Caddis Dries, Parachute Sulphur, Parachute Purple, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Iron Sally, Tungsten Yellow Sally, Tungteaser, Bead Head Hare’s Ear, Psycho Prince, Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Buckskin Caddis, Silver Bullet, Slumpbuster, Sparkle Minnow


Spinney Mountain Reservoir

Conditions: Open for the season and results have been solid. Action has been reported on a wide range of nymphs including insect and spawn patterns.

Flies: Jumbo Juju, Yankee Buzzer, Skinny Nelson, Chartreuse Copper John, Hare’s Ear, Egg Patterns


Delaney Buttes Lakes

Conditions: North has slowed but, East and South continue to produce decent results on Chironomid and Calibaetis patterns.

Flies: Jumbo Juju, Rojo Grande, Yankee Buzzer, Tak’s Chironomid, Poxy Back Calibaetis, Hares Ear, Chartreuse Copper John, Pheasant Tail, Bead Prince.


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