Colorado Fishing Report

April 28th, 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: April 27, 2016


Well after some down right awesome weather late last week, winter has made a return this week with colder temps and snow showers scattered around.  And the effects of both of those weather patterns are being felt.

First, and most noticeable, is the increase in flows to many high country rivers.  With temperatures warming as they did just after a major spring snow storm, some run-off was to be expected.  With the exception of the Blue, just about every other river went up over the weekend, including tailwaters such as the William’s Fork and Muddy Creek.  While clarity on those rivers suffered some quality deterioration at the same time, there is still plenty of fish-able water out there.

Second, a combination of that run-off with the return of cold weather has brought water temperatures down.  While this will certainly stall Caddis that have started to move up the Arkansas and Colorado below Glenwood, as well as the first few early arrivals on the upper Colorado, Roaring Fork and Eagle, it should continue to drive strong action on Blue Winged Olive patterns on all of these rivers.

It looks as if this pattern will hold through at least Sunday or even Monday in most areas so, be prepared with your favorite Blue Winged patterns for any destination in the central mountains until then.   Hopefully next week will see a rebound in temps and the potential for Caddis to make an impact.

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: 104 cfs.
Conditions:  Another week of steady-as-she-goes for the Blue.  Releases from the dam remain consistent and should stay that way until early next week.  At that point we are expecting a substantial change in flows, which will probably escalate quickly.  In the meantime, results continue to be decent overall.  There are days where that might not be the case but, generally we are seeing success in town.  Nymphing remains the most consistent method, using a wide range of standard town patterns for Mysis, Midges, Eggs and Baetis.  With clarity being so clear, 6x tippet is a good starting point, either in mono or fluoro.  You can always adjust it up from there if you find that you are hooking and breaking fish off.  There have been days over the past week or so where we have seen an influence from melting snow, particularly below Straight Creek and I-70.  This will add some color to the river and can allow for some situational changes to your approach.  Most notably it will enable the increase in tippet size to try and hold onto a few more fish.  As well, look for some of the classic dirty water flies to bring some action such as: beaded searching nymphs, San Juan Worms, egg patterns and even dead drifted streamers.  Due to the stability of water temperatures coming from the dam, the time of day hasn’t mattered with regards to feeding.  That has been fairly steady throughout the day.  However, early seems to be more productive until the wade traffic on the river starts to impact fish comfort.  As well, later in the day as angler numbers dwindle the fish regain a little bit of stability and resume feeding.  Including into the evening hours.  The biggest issue for most anglers will be the potential for crowds.  As there was a small injection of hatchery fish to the river last week, certain spots have seen an explosion in angler interest.  This is the point where we lobby for courtesy and etiquette to win out over self interest and ego.  Be patient and show your fellow angler a little courtesy by not crowding into water that may not support more than one angler.  Take a look up or downstream and come back to that spot later in the day.  Or if you have time, venture out to some of the freestone options that are improving daily with the nice weather.  If you do happen upon one of those runs where the new arrivals are congregating, fishing has been pretty ridiculous.


Town Flies: Stalcup’s Mysis, BTS Mysis or any other Mysis that you like, 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, Flossy Worn. And work in a streamer every once in a while, as well. Often over looked but, randomly deadly.

Blue River Below Green Mountain

Flow: 149 cfs.
Conditions:  A reduction in flows from the dam last week has certainly been helpful for wade anglers.  Not only improving footing but, also concentrating fish in some spots. As with just about everywhere else at the moment, angler interest in the canyon is on the rise.  At least on the weekend.  With the added pressure, fishing has continued to be inconsistent.  Some days have been very solid, while other days appear to be feeling the effects of all the boots walking through the river.  Try to plan it for a week day when there might not be as much competition.  Even more so than summer, anglers need to pay attention to their footing above the river.  Be very careful getting to the river from the parking area. The phrase “slide for life” comes to mind.  Nymph rigs with a good mix of Midge and Baetis patterns are the primary approach but, it is also a good bet to anchor those set-ups with some larger bugs or eggs.  Strong populations of Green Drake and PMD nymphs make those a potential all year.  As well, there are a couple of different Stoneflies present, which will molt throughout the year making them more available as they dislodge and drift.  5-6x tippet will cover most presentations and make sure to keep your weight sightly heavier than you think you need.  If you are not tapping bottom every 4 to 6 drifts you may need a little more.  We like to fish with a #10 – 14 imitation for the Drake or Stone on top and drop the smaller imitations for the Midge or Baetis behind that on 6x.  You can also substitute an egg for that lead fly.  At this level, crossing the river is not a problem.  However, it is slick and a swim is not out of the question so, wade safe.


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: RS-2, Tung Psycho May, Split Case BWO, Barr’s BWO, Juju Baetis, Zebra Midge, Poison Tung, Winter Baetis, Black Beauty, Rojo Midge, Rainbow Warrior, Big Spanker, 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: 653 cfs.
Conditions:   Flows are on the rise, a combination of snow melt and tailwater releases from Williams Fork and Windy Gap.  Temperatures have dropped with this change but, it should still be stable enough to produce continued results on Blue Winged Olives and some Midges.  At this flow, the river will be full bank-to-bank, which should allow for fish to spread out and find new lies outside of the central channel.  Make sure to adjust your tactics for this change, as fish that were holding/feeding in some lies at lower flows may no longer be favoring those same spots.   Nymph rigs will produce throughout the day with a good mix of Baetis and Midges, along with medium to large Stonefly imitations, small to mid-sized searching nymphs and various Egg patterns.  With flows rising and set to continue to do so, San Juan Worm imitations should also be fairly effective for the remainder of spring.  Overcast skies over the next week should provide a solid opportunity for dry fly action, as well.  Although with the overall lower temperatures forecast for the next several days, be patient in chasing rising fish as any hatches may be later in the day.  When that happens make sure to have a good selection of Midge, Baetis and Micro Stonefly patterns in order to capitalize on what is emerging.

Flies: Biot Midge, Barr’s Emerger, Magic Fly, Lil Spanker, Tungsten Hackled, 5-0 Midge, Disco Midge, Rojo Midge, UV Emerger, RS-2, WD40, Tube Midge, Zebra Midge, Noon Midge, Pure Midge Larva-Pale Olive, Brassie, Buckskin #18-20, Pheasant Tail #18-22, Black Copper John #20-22, Small Prince Nymphs, Black Pheasant Tail, Tung Psycho May, Split Case BWO, Tungsten Micro Mayfly, Winger Parachute BWO, CDC Dun BWO, No Hackle Baetis, Parachute Adams, CDC Comparadun Baetis

Colorado River Pumphouse to Dotsero

Flow: 1050 cfs. @ Pumphouse
Conditions:  A fairly noticeable jump in flows over the past week, about 30% from last Friday, along with a dramatic drop in clarity and water temperatures.  Both the clarity and temperatures are starting to show signs of improvement as the flow has leveled off.  Although, we don’t expect that water temperature to rebound very fast, as the forecast is calling for cold and a mix of rain and snow over the next several days.  Fishing had been pretty good for all 3 fly options prior to the spike in flows and we expect that to slowly return to those levels later this week.  A strong Baetis hatch continues to emerge even as the conditions have changed, albeit later in the day, as water temperatures are slower to rise to appropriate levels.  If you aren’t seeing any emerging bugs but, are still committed to throwing dry flies, you can still bring some fish to the surface in the right water if you have cloud cover.  We recommend a mid-sized attractor pattern followed up with an adult Baetis pattern in #18-20.  Nymphing will continue to provide the most consistent results throughout the day, using a tandem rig with a mix of Stonefly, Baetis and beaded searching patterns.  As clarity has dropped to stained this week, 3 and 4x should do the trick, while the increase in flows may require some additional weight to what had been doing the trick just last week.  Streamers also continue to be somewhat productive, with cloudy days being a little more consistent.  As the water has gotten more stained, we would start out with black and other dark colors that will offer a good contrast shadow in murky conditions.  Obviously, clarity should be better the higher you are in the drainage but, with the cold air, run-off from tributary streams such as Piney and Sheephorn will be declining and improving the main river as you move downstream.  If you are floating, be familiar with the section you are running and the hazards at this level.  The trough road and access roads to various public water entry points are open and in good shape but, any of these spring storms can cause for slick conditions that may make some spots too slick to get into for some vehicles. 

Flies: 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, Eggs, Zebra Midge, Blood Midge, 5-0 Midge, Pheasant Tail etc

Colorado Below Glenwood Springs

Flow: 3010 cfs.
Conditions:  As of this morning it is mud.  We’ll keep you posted on when it clears.  If that happen, then the information below applies.Flexibility is the name of the game when looking to fish this stretch of the river in spring.  Clarity can be hit or miss due to the fact that so many feeder streams drain into it up river.  As well, with being this far down the drainage and collecting so many tributaries, there is always a little more color to the river down this way.  With that in mind there is a simple rule of thumb to follow when assessing if the clarity is adequate for a day on the water: Green is good, Brown is down.  Generally speaking, that will be the key.  At this time of the year it will be very day-to-day based on how much upstream run-off has made it’s way down and how long it takes to pass through.  If you head this way to fish be prepared for either scenario when you get there and always have a back up plan.  Fortunately, with the Roaring Fork and Frying Pan right up stream, there should be an option if you show up on one of those “Brown” days.  It is big water 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.  Tandem nymph rigs with a mix of Baetis and Midge imitations trailed behind mid-sized beaded searching patterns – like Tungteasers, Pheasant Tails, Hare’s Ears etc- can be productive. (Along with a standard Spaghetti and Meatball rig.) Good numbers of Baetis are starting to get active and drive feeding patterns.  With the color of the water here being generally less clear than upstream, tippet size jumps up to 3 and 4x.  Focus on the slower water just off of the deeper seams early, then move to the seams adjacent the current and deep pockets as the day warms up.  As with all spring nymphing, make sure to have enough weight on to get you down to where the fish are sheltering.  If you don’t tap the bottom every 4 to 6 drifts, make an adjustment to either your weight, depth or both.  Not only is this a good wade fishing destination, there is plenty of open water for float fishing, as well.  South Canyon ramp is still closed for the season but, Two Rivers, Tibbets, New Castle and Silt are all open. Look for the BLM ramps to open sometime in the next week or two.


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, 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: 275 +/- cfs. @ Granite.
Conditions: Mostly ice in the far upper valley but, the river opens up in the stretch just below lake creek in Balltown.  It might be worth a go on a sunny day.  Tandem nymph rigs with a mix of Baetis, Midge and small searching patterns using 5-6x tippet.  Focus on the slow deep runs with quiet water off of the main channel.  Not as intense of feeding action as the river downstream of Buena Vista but, won’t have the crowds either.


Flies: Rainbow Warrior, Brassie, Zebra, Midge, Tung Psycho May, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Two bit Hooker, Beaded Hares Ear, Hot Wire Prince, Beaded Pheasant Tail, Copper John, CDC Hares Ear, Twenty Incher, Mr Peacock, Flossy Worm

Arkansas River Salida Area

Flow: 366 cfs. @ Salida
Conditions:  Fishing has continued strong overall with solid Baetis action under this weeks cloudy conditions.  Caddis that had started to move up river with last weeks warm weather have stalled and may take another sunny spell to re-ignite.  FLows have risen slightly after that warming trend and should allow for additional action for float anglers, while keeping wade fishing at a very comfortable level.   Good access and action should be found from Stone Bridge well down into Big Horn Sheep Canyon.  The BWO is actually our preferred hatch on the Ark in the spring as it is more consistent and less well publicized than the Caddis Hatch of late April/May.  Early in the day focus on the slower holding water adjacent to deeper seams where fish can hold up with limited energy.  As the day warms and fish move to feed adjust your efforts to the slow side of those seams or to the flats and runs at the bottom of riffles where fish may position to feed on drifting nymphs.  Tandem nymph rigs with a mix of beaded searching patterns and small stones trailing a mix of Baetis, Caddis and Midge imitations will cover most of the food choices.  With the current water level and clarity you should be able to get away with 4x on your top fly but, we would drop to 5x for the trailer to improve your odds.


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, Duracell Jig, Zebra Midge, Poison Tung, Rainbow Warrior, Brassie, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Micro Mayfly, Split Case BWO, Magic Fly, Winger Parachute BWO, CDC BWO Dun, Comparadun Baetis, CDC Comparadun BWO, Mole Fly

Roaring Fork River at Glenwood Springs

Flow: 450 +/- cfs.
Conditions:  Clarity will be day-to-day depending on weather and the snow melt/rain that ebbs and flows.  When it is clear enough to fish, some of the best spring freestone fishing going right now.  Baetis have come on strong and are moving up the river from Glenwood to Carbondale in good numbers but, there are also pockets of them up to Basalt, as well.  Mid-day has been most productive with tandem nymph rigs, using 4 – 6x tippet.  As is typical with most freestones at this time of year, Baetis and Midges will comprise the majority of the activity but, we have been seeing some decent results on medium to larger searching nymphs, along with some Stonefly patterns.  With that in mind, anchor your set-up with one of those larger bugs and trail the Baetis and Midge stuff behind.  Early in the day look for fish to be sheltered in the quiet water with little to no current.  As the day warms and the sun hits the water look for fish to move to the slower water just off of seams and towards the tails of runs.  Once there are drifting nymphs those fish may move up towards the middle and even head of the run to feed on those active bugs.  This is a great early spring freestone that generally starts to get fairly productive as we move through April/early May and current indications are that it is on schedule.

Flies: Twenty Incher #12-14, Tungteaser #12-14, Beaded Pheasant Tail #12-14, Pat’s Rubber Legs #8-10, Beaded Hares Ear #12-14, CDC Prince #12-16, Hot Wire Prince #12-16, Standard Pheasant Tail #18-20, Tung Psycho May, Rainbow Warrior Black or Red, Juju Baetis, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Duracell Jig, Root Beer Float, Biot Midge, Zebra Midge, RS2, Tung Psycho May

South Platte River, Middle Fork

Flow: 35 +/- cfs.
Conditions: Ice and snow are starting to clear but, current weather has slowed that progress.  Probably a week or two yet before starts to pick up.


South Platte, Dream Stream

Flow: 70 cfs.
Conditions:  Some good reports coming in from the “Dream” at the moment.  Yes, those 11 mile spawn-run fish have started to move up the river and as a result, crowds are thick.  Flows remain on the low side although, not unmanageable.  Combine that with the clarity and you have some spooky fish.  We recommend 6-7x tippet and a light footed approach.  Try not to wade if you can avoid it, as the less time in the water the less likely you are to alert the fish to something that is suspect in their environment.  This time of year can see a wide range of productive patterns, as there is decent aquatic insect activity with Midges and Baetis, along with an increase in interest to spawn imitations.


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

Flow: 190 cfs (and rising)
Conditions: Releases from the Dam are on the way up.  According to Denver water they should be up to the 250 – 270 range by Thursday 4/28.  This will make for some very sporty wading but, once the debris from what was dry river bed is flushed through in a couple of hours should be good clarity.  Look for nymphing to 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 up tippet to 4 and 5x along with a good amount of weight.  This will be a swift flow for the size of river that this is.  If you are familiar with fishing this river at it’s mid-summer and fall/winter flows, the amount of weight needed will be substantial compared to that.  Experiment with that weight until you are coming in contact with the bottom every few casts and adjust your depth to keep your flies fight down close to the bottom where fish may be sheltering.


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: 331 cfs below Edwards
Conditions:  Fishing has continued to improve almost daily.  Some of the better freestone action going at the moment.  The big issue will be clarity. That can depend on your location and the day of the week.  As spring storms pass through and drop snow one day, there will be at least an additional day or two after they clear out for that snow to melt and run into the river adding color and interrupting the fishing.  It will be worse in certain stretches of the river than others.  For now, the breaking point for location is generally just below Wolcott where Milk Creek runs in.  We have definitely been seeing the clarity take a hit downstream from there when it does go bad.  Keep in mind it won’t be every day, or even all day.  Just be prepared to move throughout the day in order to find cleaner water if it muds up.  All of that being said, upstream from Wolcott has been very stable with regards to clarity.  Nymphing has been the most productive method, with a good mix of Stonefly, Baetis and Egg patters, as well as a few Midge and Caddis imitations at times.  Clarity has been a little unstable as we mentioned but, the positive of that is the lack of needing to drop too light for tippet.  3, 4 and 5x has covered any situation we have encountered over the past several weeks.  Focus your efforts on the slower deeper runs early in the day, then as the temperature warms over the day look for fish to move up towards the bottom of riffles and fast water to feed on drifting nymphs.


Flies: 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: Ice is gone and the lake is open.  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 but, it is starting to open along the shore and fish are cruising feeding on Eggs, and Midge/Chironomid type patterns.  Should start to break up once the sun returns and wind kicks up.

Flies: Eggs, Rojo Grande, Jumbo Juju, Zebra etc

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