Colorado Fishing Report

April 15th, 2014


Report for April 15.

Another quick spring disturbance looks to pass through the central mountains mid week before clearing out later in the week.  This will continue the up and down trend in both stream flows and clarity levels for the near future.  At this time of year we can see a broad swing in conditions, both weather and water.  While those warm and sunny days do provide a certain level of comfort on the water, they can also contribute a bump in flows and drop in visibility on subsequent days.  And while those days with a return to winter can certainly dampen ones mood as it seems like it may never end, they can go a long way to improving water quality again, as the drop in temperatures reduces snow melt and staining.

Some areas are seeing a degradation in water quality, particularly the Roaring Fork and parts of the Colorado, as those areas had a greater amount of “lower elevation” snow that melted and brought in dirt from the ditches and pavement as it melted.  As well, a good deal of the Colorado drainage is also seeing some noticeable increases in stream flows.  Both tailwater stretches of the Blue, along with the Williams Fork have seen additional releases from their respective dams, quite the change from the past two seasons.

This should not be confused with the actual “Run-Off” event that is coming towards the middle part of next month. Typically what we see at this time of year is some early staining of the river during the first couple of really warm days when the snow in the valleys and lower hill sides melts off and adds some color to the river. This can be more localized as well, affecting some rivers at certain times while others are relatively stable. The key to making the best out of the situation is to stay flexible, keep an eye on the weather and don’t hesitate to give us a call for daily clarity checks.

As those cold fronts come and go they should not only slow the melt and clear some of the clarity issues, they will also provide ideal conditions for emerging Blue Winged Olives and rising fish. Hatches of which continue to be strong on the Arkansas and Roaring Fork. The Ark that has remained clear and fish-able all week, while the Fork saw the adverse effects of that melting snow.

Don’t hesitate to call us for current conditions as well, we’ll do our best to try and interpret changing stream flow readings with you. Or follow us on Twitter @coloradoangler, where we try to post changing conditions as we learn about them.

Detailed reports on the right side of this page 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.

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. There is a lot of information here on this page as well as on our main page at but, space is limited and we may not have answered all of your questions. We want to make sure you get the information you are looking for. Toll Free 855-CO TROUT (268-7688) 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. Spring Hours: Monday – Saturday 8 am – 6 pm, Sunday 8 am – 5 pm

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Blue River Below Dillon Reservoir
Flow: 596 cfs.
Conditions:  Another increase in flow this week has brought the Blue up to a rather sporty level.  Fishing remains very good but, at this flow it will start to see a reduction of holding water.  Look for breaks in the current as well as new ledges and inside lies that are not there at lower volumes.  This will also start to move fish around and they may be in water that they are not normally found in so, don’t just rely on your normal spots where you have had success in the past.  With the extra flow from the bottom of the lake, there are good amounts of Mysis Shrimp drifting through town throughout the day and at times Mysis patterns will comprise the majority of action.  In addition to that, results have been strong on a good mix of Midge imitations in larva, pupa and emerger stages, with black, red and gray being productive colors. Surface activity has been less consistent than earlier in the Winter but, there are still some days with a decent emergence of adult Midges.  Also in the mix at this time of year are San Juan Worm and Egg patterns. With the added flow it is important to adjust your nymph rig accordingly, not only for depth but, additional weight can often make all the difference for a successful day on the water.  This time of year can also present a problem with some daily run-off.  Generally speaking, the first sunny day after snowfall, we will see that new snow melt off of roadways and make it’s way into the river, causing some light to moderate staining of the water.  If that happens, give it a try with a San Juan Worm pattern or something with a little extra flash.Town Flies: Candy Cane #20, Stalcup’s Mysis, Kingery’s Mysis, BTS Mysis #16-22, Flossy Worm, San Juan Worm, San Juan Flash Worm, Otter Soft Milking Egg, Peg Egg, RS-2 #22-24, STD Baetis #20, Black or Chocolate UV Emerger #22-24, Kingery’s Cap’n Hook #20-22, Pure Midge Larva #20-24, Black Beauty #20-24, Tube Midge Black or Red #20-22, Medallion Midge #22-24, Split case BWO #20, Winter Baetis #20-22, Two Bit Hooker, Desert Storm #20-24, Rainbow Warrior #20, #22 BWO Adult, Adult Midge Dark, Brook’s Sprout Midge #22-24, Parachute Adams #24-26, Split Case BWO

Blue River Below Green Mountain
Flow: 772 cfs.
Conditions:  Flows are now up to respectable summer levels.  This will definitely limit the amount of wade fishing, as not only is the river not cross-able but, this will also limit the pockets and banks lies in some places.  Action is still on the slow side as water and air temps are still climbing towards more agreeable temps although some reports from the canyon have started to improve slightly and fish are becoming more active.  Nymphing will provide the more consistent action, fished with a tandem set-up starting with a larger imitation for a Stonefly or big Mayfly followed up with a Midge or Baetis pattern.  It may also be worth the effort to swing a few streamers through this stretch as we enter the early stages of Spring.  Access is still very tricky from the parking area with a good bit of snow still on a very steep hill so, scout your route to the river before stepping off into a potential “slide for life”.  Floating is once again a viable option although, reports are still on the slow to medium side from those that have ventured down that stretch.  As well, our guess is the launch will still be a snow covered Bobsled type ride and the take out may still have it’s fair share of snow hampering your efforts to put the boat back on the trailer. Flies: Big bead heads: Hare’s Ear, Tungteaser, Pheasant Tail, Stubby Stone, Twenty Incher, Rubberlegs, Psycho Prince, Mr Peacock Ice, Flossy Worm, Split Case BWO, Barr’s BWO, Juju Baetis, Zebra Midge, Poison Tung, Winter Baetis, Black Beauty, Rojo Midge, 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.

Colorado River Above Kremmling (Parshall)
Flow: 600 cfs. @ Parshall
Conditions:  Flows are a guess based on what is coming out of the Fork and what we hear about valley snow melt.  There was a relatively dramatic change in those flows this week from both sources, which will definitely drop water temps and clarity levels.  That being said, it may be a little off for a day or two as fish reposition with the higher water and water temps stabilize enough to bring a hatch back to the mix. There had been good to decent action for this time of year, with Spring Midge hatches showing up spurring consistent subsurface activity as well as some semi regular surface action for the committed dry fly angler. Best results have been to start off with a tandem nymph rig, with a mix of Baetis or Midge larva and pupa behind a slightly larger lead fly, that imitates a different food source.  This front fly can range from a small Mayfly or Stone imitation to more of a searching pattern like a San Juan Worm.  With the change in conditions those San Juan Worm patterns may get a little extra attention as water clarity gets a little cloudy.  Early in the day expect to find fish in the slower currents of a pool or the tail outs of the longer runs.  As daytime temps rise and water temps with them, then look for trout to move up towards the head of runs and pools where drifting nymphs will be more prevalent before the hatch.  Keep an eye out for subtle rise forms to be feeding first on emerging Midges and then more noticeable surfacing for adults.  Olive, gray and black have produced some of the most consistent results for the Midge hatch but we also like to fish some pupa imitations in red and purple.

Flies: BLM Black, Two Bit Hooker, Zebra Midge, RS2, Poxybiot Nymph, Pheasant Tail, WD-40, Split Case BWO, Juju Baetis, Baetis Big Bear, Midge Biot, Tube Midge, CDC Hanging Midge, Sprout Midge, Para Extended Body BWO, CDC Baetis Dun, Winger Parachute, Pure Midge Larva, Tidbit Midge, Medallion Midge, Poison Tung, UV Emerger, Flossy Worm, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Slumpbuster, LE Marabou Streamer.

Colorado River Pumphouse to Dotsero
Flow: 1760 cfs.
Conditions:  Very good flows for this time of year will have the river channel full from bank to bank.  Clarity overall has been solid, with just some short periods of staining.  Look for flows to continue to be a little above seasonal volumes and at times a little off color.  Starting to see a little more consistency with regards to action now that we are moving into April.  Historically it is just about the start of the second week of the month when this stretch can become a dependable destination and it looks like that it is on time for loyal fans.  Results have been a mixed bag depending on the day and location but, the river is navigable and fish are being caught.  Water temperature continues to be as big of a factor as any right now and we have seen better results once it has climbed above 38-40 degrees.  With the return of an overcast pattern and the potential for snow, these temps may be a little spotty for a few more days.  That being said focus on the more wide open valley areas as opposed to the canyon stretches, as well as slightly further down stream where the water warms more as the day goes on.  The most consistent of the action has been on nymph patterns, with that in mind try a double fly rig under an indicator.  Start with a beaded searching nymph or Stonefly imitation for the lead fly, then drop a smaller offering in either a Midge or Baetis pattern.  There is a good amount of water for this time of year and the river should be full bank to bank in most places.  However, with water temps still dropping into the low 30s overnight you will want to focus your attention early in the day to the tail out of runs or slower, deeper pools.  Then as the sun warms the water later in the day move up towards the head of pools and runs where the fish may move into to forage on drifting nymphs.  Keep an eye on flows here, as we expect further increases to come from upstream water releases over the next couple of weeks.Flies: Tungteaser, Rubberlegs, Beaded Pheasant Tails, Beaded Hares Ears, Tungsten Prince, RS2′s, Split Case BWO, Barr’s Emerger, Juju Baetis, Blue Ribbon Emerger, Two Bit Hooker, Gidget Olive, Parachute Extended Body BWO, Para Adams, Para Wulff BWO, Miscellaneous Streamers: Sculpzilla, Silver Bullet, Space Invader, Beldar, Bead Head Buggers in Black or White

Colorado Below Glenwood Springs
Flow 4050 cfs.
Conditions: There has been some good to decent action at times on the lower river, the problem has been consistency. At this time of year there is a good deal of lower elevation run-off making it’s way into the river, either from the Colorado up above Glenwood Canyon or the Eagle. That can change the clarity from day-to-day. There is always a little bit of color to the river below Glenwood the key is what color it is and how thick. Generally speaking a good rule of thumb is: green is good brown is down. Even if it is only a foot or so of visibility, if there is an overall greenish hue to the river it should be good to go. But, when that color shifts to brown it tends to turn off. If you get there and conditions are right, nymph rigs under indicators have been the most productive. Beaded searching nymphs and Stonefly imitations along with Blue Winged Olive and Midge imitations for the current hatches of both of these early Spring staples that are emerging below town at the moment. Mix it up with a variety of nymph and emerging patterns for both hatches. As well, keep an eye out for scattered pods of risers feeding on those adults, as that can provide a nice change from watching an indicator for an hour or so.

Flies: Mr Peacock Ice, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Tungteaser, Bead Prince, Twenty Incher, Tungsten Pheasant Tail, Bead Prince, Bead Hares Ear, Tungstone, Barr’s Emerger, Zebra Midge, Juju Baetis, Poison Tung, Winter Baetis, Sculpzilla, Space Invader, Silver Bullet

Arkansas River Above Buena Vista
Flow: 390 cfs. @ Granite
Conditions: Starting to see plenty of open water, particularly below Balltown, which is where Lake Creek dumps in the release from Twin Lakes. Although, at this higher elevation, water temperatures will still be on the cool side and action will not be too wide spread. If you are in the upper part of the valley, concentrate your efforts on the stretch from the confluence with Lake Creek down to Granite or drop on down closer to Buena Vista where a greater amount of sun hits the water, bringing temperatures up slightly to spur some insect activity. Look for pools and tail outs early in the day to be holding fish with less energy spent and then as afternoon water temps climb, activity should pick up as food becomes more prevalent.

Flies: Beaded Hares Ear, Hot Wire Prince, Beaded Pheasant Tail, Copper John, Hot Wire Caddis, Tung Z Wing Caddis, Tungteaser, CDC Hares Ear, Twenty Incher, Mr Peacock, RS-2, Zebra Midge, White Streamers

Arkansas River Salida Area
Flow: 494 cfs. @ Salida
Conditions: The Blue Winged Olives have moved up river into the Salida area. Action this week has been solid on both nymphs and dries (when the wind isn’t too strong). Early in the day will be slow to start so, don’t feel the need to race out at the crack of dawn. Look for the nymphs to be drifting in the later part of the morning into early afternoon. In-stream flows are just about double the seasonal averages due to water managers shipping water from high elevation reservoirs downstream in anticipation of high amounts of snow-melt to come. Fortunately for anglers, not only is the flow still manageable for wade fishing but, it is also high enough to float the river, providing access to the entire corridor from Hecla Junction down stream through Big Horn Sheep Canyon. As can be typical of this time of year with cold over night temps, look for fish early in the morning to be more concentrated in the tail out of pools and deeper runs. Then as the water temperatures rebound into mid-day and afternoon they will start to move up into the head of runs closer to the main current to feed on drifting nymphs and emergers. The majority of insect activity at the moment will be a combination of Baetis and Midges, depending on the day and your location. Salida is about the leading edge of the Baetis and as you head down stream into Big Horn Sheep Canyon you should see those numbers intensify. The most consistent method right now is still to fish a double nymph rig, with the top fly being either a small Stonefly pattern or a beaded searching pattern followed up with something smaller. This trailing fly can be a Baetis or Midge imitation, depending on where you are in the corridor. On those days where the wind is manageable, chances are good to see fish rising to adult BWOs anytime from just after noon through the heart of the day. This may be the pick spot of the moment for great fishing and early spring weather.

Worth Noting: This is now the second year of a two year program to re-establish Pteronarcys Californica to the Arkansas. Over the past 2 years CPW has transplanted about 70 thousand Salmonfly nymphs from the Colorado River to the Arkansas and distributed them just above and below Salida. We are keeping an optimistic eye on the river here to see if this insect will take hold and produce a revived population.

Flies: Bead Head Pheasant Tail # 14-16, Tungstone Golden #12-16, Tungsten Yellow Sally, Iron Sally, Chartreuse Copper John #12-16, Chartreuse Hot Wire Caddis, Hot Wire Prince, Pat’s Rubber Legs #8, Split Case BWO, Loop Wing BWO Emerger, Juju Baetis, Zebra Midge, Poison Tung, Tube Midge, Black Beauty Emerger, 5-0 Midge, Para Extended Body BWO, Winger Parachute, CDC Baetis Dun, Gulper Special, Para Wulff BWO

Roaring Fork River at Glenwood Springs
Flow: 937 cfs.
Conditions: Went dirty this week due to the heat. We hope that it will start to clear as the next cold front moves in this weekend. Prior to that the report read: With some down right warm temperatures over the past couple of weeks, there is some good open water to fish throughout the valley. Particularly from Basalt, below the confluence with the Pan, on down to the Colorado in Glenwood. Large quantities of bigger sized Midges are emerging from the upper part of the river mixed in with a strong Blue Winged Olive emergence as you make your way downstream from Westbank to Glenwood. Tandem nymph rigs with 4-6x tippets have been solid with a mix Midge pupa and emerger patterns or Baetis imitations working well behind a variety of top flies. That can range from a beaded searching nymph to a medium to large Stonefly imitation, as well as your favorite Egg pattern, which have been very productive lately. When the adults are coming off, there are pods of rising fish to be found sipping Midge emerger and adult BWO patterns off the surface. We like to fish those as part of a two-fly, dry fly set up behind a parachute Blue Winged Olive imitation and have had success on both bugs. Traffic on the river is on the rise as the weather at this lower elevation offers a great break from the long and snowy winter that we have endured at our higher location. During the week most of that is floaters but, on weekends there will be a few wade fishermen around as well.

Flies: Twenty Incher, Tungteaser, Stubby stones, Beaded Pheasant Tail, Standard Pheasant Tail, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Tungstone, Copper Johns, Hares Ear, Mr. Peacock, CDC Prin, 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. Parachute Extended Body BWO, Winger Parachute, Parachute Adams, Gulper Special, CDC Adult Midge, CDC Hanging Midge, Morgan’s Midge Adult

South Platte River, Middle Fork
Flow: ??? cfs.
Conditions: Low flows, wind and cold temperatures have done their best to shut this one down for the year. Not much to offer, as ice covers most of the river. With somewhat mild temps the past couple of weeks there will be some open pockets here and there but, nothing consistent and certainly prone to ice flow. If you happen to be driving through and are curious, then give it a shot with the usual searching nymph patterns along with Midge and Baetis imitations. On a positive note, you should have the place to yourselves.

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 82 cfs.
Conditions: Yes, it’s true. Reports of large, pre-spawn fish moving up out Elevenmile Reservoir and into the river are quite accurate. The only problem with that is, the word is out and the crowds are matching the trout numbers. So, be prepared to have to cover some ground to find a spot to call your own. There are reports of fish now starting to pair up and clear beds for dropping eggs. PLEASE, stay off of the clear gravel and do not disturb the fish that are actively trying to reproduce. This is the single most stressful time of year for trout-when they are spawning- and any interruption to this process can cause irreparable harm. Give those fish a break and work to fish in other lies. There have been a good mix of nymphs catching fish, everything from standard Tailwater Midges to small Baetis imitations, along with Eggs and San Juan Worm patterns. The combination of low flows, high sun and big crowds will certainly have an effect on fish sensitivity. Fine tippets and a good drag free drift will be in order. Sight fishing will still produce the best results, as there just aren’t that many spots on this stretch for blind casting to a pile of fish in a deep run. When sight nymphing make sure to use an adequate amount of weight to get down to fish that are holding along the bottom and try to go with out an indicator or at least refrain from using an overly bight color if possible. The fish in this Tailwater seem to be as sensitive to indicators as any spot in the state. With that in mind, try and minimize your wading as much as possible and cast form the bank where you can reach. A deliberate, stealthy approach is going to be your best bet here. Small Midge and Mayfly nymphs in sizes #20-24 are some of the most productive, and the occasional SJW and Egg Pattern can still pull a few fish as well.

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

Williams Fork River Below Dam
Flow 44 cfs.
Conditions: Flows remain at their winter low and we’re not sure how long that will last. It seems as if the rest of the basin is starting to increase volume but, that is not the case here as of yet. Due to the lack of change here clarity remains very clear and the fish are sensitive to that after the long winter. That is going to make the fishing a little more technical as fish will not be too wide spread, rather they will be holed up in the few deeper holding areas, and feeling a little bit pressured on top of that. Traffic has been relatively light considering the popularity of this Winter fishery but, some days it seems as if everybody had the same idea on where to go. Lighter tippet and a stealthy approach will make a difference in angler success. Nymph fishing should remain the most productive method but, not necessarily deep nymphing, as we have had some recent success on midge emerger patterns fished higher in the column. So mix up your depth and weight amounts as you cover the river. Along with the midge type stuff also look for action on Caddis, Stonefly and Baetis nymphs along with some San Juan Worm imitations.

Flies: Caddis Larva, Flash Back Pheasant Tail, Hatching Midge, Split Case BWO, 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, BWO dries.

Antero Reservoir
Conditions: Ice is on and fishing is allowed through the winter. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea but, if you are looking for something to do this Winter, give the hard water a try. It may give you a new perspective the next time you are bobbing around in your float tube.

Flies: Yankee Buzzer, Jumbo Juju, Tak’s Chironomid, Garcia’s Rojo Grande Midge, Rapunzel Damsel, Gaviglio’s Calibaetis Nymph, Poxyback Calibaetis Nymph, Hare’s Ear, Copper John

Spinney Mountain Reservoir
Conditions: The Park has closed for the season. There is no access to the lake until the spring thaw clears the lake of ice.


Delaney Buttes Lakes
Conditions: Our sources say that the ice is on and safe, with some moderate action to report. Just to the East on Lake John, things look to be very active, as well.

Flies: Egg Patterns, Bead Pheasant Tail, Bead Hare’s Ear, Copper John, Jumbo Juju, Zebra Midge, Tak’s Chironomid, Hale Bopp Leech

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