Colorado Fishing Report

May 24th, 2019

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 stretch of river, simply scroll below to read more information. 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 7:30 am – 6:00 pm

Sunday 7:30 am – 5 pm

 

Recent Update: May24, 2019

 

Well, what do you know, we finally have a great looking weekend ahead.  Not only do we have a solid forecast of mostly sunny and warm weather, we also should enjoy the benefits of the cold weather over the past week.   Most notably the low and generally clear water across the better part of the state.  Typically speaking, Memorial Day weekend is about a week before peak and conditions can be sporadic at best, but thanks to freezing temperatures we have seen water levels drop by up to 60% and visibility improve to over 3 feet at some locations over the past week.  That makes this weekend a best case scenario in a year of incredible snow-pack.

Our best guess is that Friday’s temps aren’t going to get high enough to spark a major rebound right away, but Saturday may be enough to get things headed in that direction.  We expect the downward trend in flows to level off today and tomorrow, then make a slight upturn Sunday, with no major impact to overall conditions, which are fantastic considering the timing.  After that it is too early to tell for next week because, just as we get 3 solid days of sun to start the melt back up, we have another round of cool temps and potential snow for the early part of next week.

What we do know is that you should get out and fish this weekend while it is stable and action is strong.  We continue to have a solid Blue Winged Olive emergence on just about every river that we fish and the Caddis hatches that have slowed as water temperatures have dropped should rebound in short order.  Be prepared to see both Caddis and Baetis, along with Midges over the course of the day no matter where you go.

As long as this pattern continues, it will benefit you to be flexible.  Don’t be too committed to a location or technique that you don’t change it up in order to find success.  Water levels are ebbing and flowing over the course of several days, even throughout the day in many places, and what may be less than ideal in the morning, may see enough of an improvement by afternoon to warrant a few casts.  Yes, there are going to be some places that just need to be crossed off your list for a couple of weeks, like the lower Eagle below Wolcott.  However, there are other spots that will continue to be worth trying.

Scroll down for more detailed reports on your favorite rivers, with flows and fly choices.

Blue River Below Dillon Reservoir

Flow: 400 cfs
Conditions:  Flows are holding steady at a fairly robust level for this popular tailwater. For many anglers that are all too familiar with winter flow regiments, this will be an overwhelming amount of water.  However, it is well within solid high-water levels for catching fish, and it is clean water.  The key is going to be to focus on the right water type and bump up your weight, substantially.  First look for any sheltering lie out of the main current.  Edge water, behind structure, inside bends in the river and above some of the man made weirs all offer trout a place to find a break from the higher flows.  Once you have identified those sheltering lies, then make sure to increase the amount of weight in your nymph set-up.  We would say start with at least a single AAA or a couple of BB size split shot and adjust from there.  There will be a good diversity of patterns working, as high flows tend to bring more options into the system.  From the typical searching patterns such as San Juan and Egg patterns to dead drifted leech imitations.  As well, the larger flows from the dam represent a stronger pull off the bottom of the reservoir, which is pushing a noticeably greater amount of Mysis Shrimp into the river.  As for traffic, that has been day-to-day.  Typically high water represents a clean water destination during run-off and attracts quite a crowd, but with these elevated flows that tends to keep some anglers away due to the intimidation factor. 

Town Flies: BTS Shrimp, Tim’s Mysis, Stalcup’s Mysis, Buckskin, Andrew’s 5-0 Midge, 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, Rojo Midge, Tube Midge – Black or Red, RS-2 – Black or Dun, WD40 – Black or Chocolate, Zebra Midge, Otter Soft Milking Egg, Bead Eggs, Flossy Worm, Gummy Worm, Sparkle Worm, Jake’s CDC Leech, squirrel leech


Blue River Below Green Mountain

Flow: 400 cfs
Conditions:  Flows continue to hold steady after a nice jump last week, returned this stretch to a solid destination for strong wade anglers that are able to handle the physical nature of this spot.  At this level it will still be possible for taller, steady footed waders to cross to the other side but, will definitely limit those that don’t fall into that category.  Either way, look for action to improve now that fish can spread out and occupy a greater diversity of water types.  Action should be most consistent on a mix of nymph patterns for Midges and Baetis paired with small to mid-sized stones and searching patterns.  At the same time, keep and eye out for surface activity to emerging Midges and Blue Winged Olives when conditions allow.  A combination of the boost in water and the onset of spring should offer a good chance to find a wide range of nymphs being available for trout to feed on including Caddis, Green Drake and Stones, as well.  Even better news is the higher water will negate the need for light tippet, 4x should do the trick in most cases.  The unsettled weather that has been the norm this spring is also beneficial on this section, as action tends to improve on overcast days.  As the water comes up, so too will the interest in floating below the canyon.  400 is still a bit too low for most rafts to navigate cleanly through private water.  Please, pay attention to flows and make an honest assessment of your ability before deciding to float through the ranch. With the snow-pack we have this year, there will be more than enough time this season to do that under ideal conditions. 

Flies: Dries: Parachute Extended Body BWO, CDC Baetis Dun, Hanging Midge, Slate Gray No Hackle, Winger Parachute, Parachute Purple. Big bead heads: Deep Dish Green Drake, Hare’s Ear, Tungteaser, Pheasant Tail, Rubberlegs, Psycho Prince, Duracell Jig, Flossy Worm, Sparkle Worm, etc. The Smaller Stuff: Aero Baetis, RS-2, Tung Psycho May, Darth Baetis, Split Case BWO, Barr’s BWO, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Juju Baetis, Red Neck Midge, Tube Midge, BH Biot Midge, Mirage Zebra,Otter Egg. Sculpzilla, Sex Dungeon, Cheech Leech, Sparkle Minnow etc


Colorado River Above Kremmling (Parshall)

Flow: 500 cfs
Conditions:  Just like everywhere else, flows that were on the rise have fallen slightly but, with the influence of the William’s Fork tailwater adding a stream of clean water to the system, there is a little bit more stability to this section than other locations.  As the water rises now to some of the highest levels this season, the river will be picking up additional debris and sediment that had been dry along the banks.  These periods of off color water should generally be short in nature, if the flow levels off.  Once that happens, look for a steady improvement in clarity to a wider amount of river.  All of that being said, the current level of water is not un-fishable, you just have to adjust your tactics and equipment.  Look for softer lies out of the main current, where fish can shelter a bit from the heaviest water and still forage on drifting nymphs.  Bump up your weight so that you can get those nymphs down quickly, as your soft water targets may be very short drifts.  Increase your tippet size as well, not only will the stained water cloak your tippet, if you do hook up a fish you will need a little extra tensile strength to hang on to them if they get into that faster current.  Nymph rigs are going to be the best approach at the moment, with a mix of Midge, Baetis, Caddis and Stonefly imitations fished in tandem with beaded searching nymphs and San Juan Worm patterns.

 

Flies: Pat’s Rubber Legs, Flashback Hare’s Ear, Miller’s Tactical + One, Flossy Worm, CDC Pheasant Tail, Bead Prince, Psycho Prince, Breadcrust, Hammerhead Nymph, Pheasant Tail #14-18, Redemption BWO, Split Case BWO, Tungsten Micro Mayfly Brown, Tungsten Juju Baetis, Aero Baetis, Root Beer Float, Sparkle Worm, Zirdle, Sculpin patterns.


Colorado River Pumphouse to Dotsero

Flow: 1240 cfs. @ Pumphouse
Conditions:  After a steady rise early in the month, flows have fallen slightly before leveling off at a very nice rate for both wade and float anglers.  Along with that has come some noticeable improvement to clarity, at least for the time being.  We’re not exactly sure on how to forecast things here for this run-off season, as we have not had any length of time where the water continues on an upward trajectory and we can see if that visibility will remain at manageable levels.  However, all is not lost just yet, as there are still going to be plenty of days to find fish here.  The biggest factor is going to be when your fishing time corresponds to any dramatic changes that happen before and during the run-off.  High water, and even off color water are not deal breakers, you just want it to be stable for a day or two to give you a better shot at success.  You’re looking for 12 inches of visibility to give yourself a good shot, even though you can find fish in less clarity.  Right now the main emphasis is going to be on the Salmonfly nymphs that are in the process of migrating to the bank for their impending hatch, so be sure to always have an imitation for them in your set-up.  As well, there are still good amounts of Baetis emerging on the cooler and cloudy days, while sunny and warm days are starting to drive some fairly robust Caddis hatches.  Along with all of that, the Sculpin spawn is wrapping up and action has been solid on dark olive and black streamers for at least the past month and a half.  Leave the light tippet in the car and fish the 3 and 4 for nymphs, or 0 to 2x for streamers.  We think the Salmonfly hatch is going to be slightly later than normal due to the above average snow-pack (but who can really tell) somewhere closer to the end of the month, first of next month.
Flies: Pat’s Rubber Legs, Psycho Prince, Yeager’s Soft Hackle, Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Duracell, Lil Spanker, Millers Tactical Plus 1, Foam Wing RS2, Tungsten Psycho May, Darth Baetis, Eggs, San Juan Worm, Sculpzilla, Silver Bullet, Sex Dungeon, Cheech Leech, Crystal Bugger


Colorado Below Glenwood Springs

Flow: 5400 cfs
Conditions: Hard Pass. Although we have seen a momentary drop in flows, that is an illusion that will vanish before you can touch it. Reality is flows are rising fast and dirty. With the snow-pack that we have this year we could see some 10-12,000 cfs flows here before it starts to come back down. We’ll let you know when that happens

 

Flies: Pat’s Rubber Legs, Tungteaser, CDC BH Pheasant Tail, Bead Prince, Duracell Jig, Tungsten Pheasant Tail, Deep Dish Green Drake, Bead Hares Ear, Yeager’s BH Soft Hackle J, Zebra Midges, San Juan Worm patterns, Lil Spanker, Tung Psycho May, Big Spanker, Rainbow Warrior, Magic Fly, RS-2, Bead Eggs, Otter Egg, Flossy Worm, Sex Dungeon, Heisenberg Streamers, Sculpzilla, Silver Bullet.


 

Arkansas River Above Buena Vista

Flow:  212 @ Hayden Meadows
Conditions: Flows that were on the rise have leveled off and dropped to a very wade-able level.  As well, they are behind for the season and there are still a few days left up here before it gets too crazy.  Nymphing has been solid on a mix of beaded searching patterns, Caddis larva, Baetis nymphs and smaller stones.  Visibility is generally 2 to 3 feet, so tippet size shouldn’t need to drop lower than 4x.  Look for any sheltered lies that you can find where fish can lay up out of the heavy currents and still feed on passing nymphs.  Edge water, inside turns in the river, below islands to name a few.  The way conditions are you may have to cover a little bit of water to find those favorable lies so, don’t get too married to a spot, keep moving. 

Flies: Pat’s Rubber Legs, Red Collar Leggy PT, Duracell, Copper John, BH Pheasant Tail, BH Hare’s Ear, Lil Spanker, Hot Wire Prince, Psycho Prince, Yeager’s Soft Hackle J, Iron Sally, Hammerhead Jig, Tungsten Psycho May, Tungsten Micro Mayfly, Beaded Biot Midge, Flossy Worm, Silver Bullet, Sparkle Minnow.


Arkansas River Salida Area

Flow: 922 cfs @ Salida
Conditions: Flows have moved up over the past week or so, and even though this may seem pretty substantial it is by no means too high.  The bigger issue right now will be how much visibility there is on a given day.  We would like to see it be around 2 feet but, there can be success with less.  At this level you will want to focus your efforts along the edge water where fish can find a sheltering lie out of the main current.  This will limit the need for excessive wading and may even keep your feet dry in some areas.  As the fish are holding tight to the banks, it is a great opportunity to throw dry-dropper rigs.  The more consistent action will come on the nymph using a mix of Stonefly, Caddis and even Baetis imitations along with a variety of beaded searching patterns.  Hang those under a mid to larger sized attractor such as a Chubby or Para X.  There are still good amounts of adult Caddis and Baetis along the river that could lead to some success on straight imitative dry fly patterns in the right place at the right time.  However, the most consistent action we have seen over the past couple of weeks has been the streamer fishing.  As much as we would rather fish bugs it is amazing that we would say this but, particularly from a boat, the streamer fishing has been very solid.  If it were just a rating for the streamers we would give it a 4 1/2 out of 5.
Flies: Slumpbuster, Silver Bullet, Thin Mint, Double Mint, Sculpzilla, Sex Dungeons, Rubberleg Wooly Bugger, Extended Body Para BWO, Winger Para BWO, GT Adult BWO, Small Chubbies, Para X, Hippy Stomper, Beadhead Pheasant Tail, Red Collar Leggy PT, Beadhead Prince, Beadhead Hare’s Ear, Red or Chartreuse Copper John, Hot Wire Prince, Psycho Prince, Hammerhead, Duracell Jig, Tungsten Psycho May, Aero Baetis, Darth Baetis, Split Case BWO, RS2, Tungsten Micro May, Poison Tung, Frenchie,Iron Sally, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Yeager’s Soft Hackle J


Roaring Fork River at Glenwood Springs

Flow: 1620 cfs
Conditions:  Flows have made a serious drop this week, and it will be short lived phenomenon but, there is enough improvement to get after it until it turns upward again.  Nymphing will offer the best results, whether as part of a tandem nymph set up, or underneath a big bushy attractor as part of a dry-dropper.  Focus on the edge water where fish can get a break from the heavier flows mid-river.  Caddis remain a viable hatch, so be prepared to encounter them, as well nymphs for Baetis, Stoneflies, Drakes, San Juans and beaded searching patterns.  Again, this isn’t going to last and may be over by the end of the weekend but, it is another option at a time when river fishing is generally tough. 

Flies: Big beaded searching nymphs, BH Pheasant Tail, Duracell Jig, Chartreuse Copper John, Yeager’s Soft Hackle J,San Juan Worm, Pat’s Rubber legs, etc


South Platte River, Middle Fork

Flow: 60+/- cfs
Conditions:  Flows are rising but, action has been decent.  Dry dropper fishing with Chubbies and beaded searching nymphs as you fish up stream, with streamers against the banks and below the drops on the way back down.  But, don’t wait too long.  Once it gets up over 100cfs, it will be a pretty tough proposition. 

Flies: Chubby Chernobyl, Foam Hoppers, Beaded Prince, Duracell Jig, Hammerhead Jig, Red Collar PT, Beaded Pheasant Tail, Big Spanker, Red Neck Midge, Slumpbuster, Silver Bullet, Zonker, Beldar, Thin Mint, Autumn Splendor.


South Platte, Dream Stream

Flow: 89 cfs
Conditions:  Honestly we have been avoiding the Dream at all costs.  Not only in order to give a break to the lake run fish that have moved into this tiny stretch of river to try and procreate under adverse natural conditions, let alone having to deal with running a gauntlet of flies, but also as a regulator to our blood pressure, which seems to skyrocket at the sight of “anglers” standing over Redds and harassing those very spawning fish as they are trying to reproduce, thus insuring the trout population for those same short-sighted “anglers”.  We don’t mean to be a downer here but, this has gotten all too common of a practice at the Dream and we can’t bear to watch it.  We also know that it’s not everyone down there that does it but, the amount of it that happens there ruins it for all you ethical anglers out there.  So, we are asking for you to consider the resource and look elsewhere for the month of April into May.Flies:


Williams Fork River Below Dam

Flow: 70 cfs
Conditions:  After a big drop to nearly unhealthy levels, a nice rebound back up in flows.  Still on the low end for allowing for fish to spread out thoroughly in the river but, enough for a day on this river without having to worry about fish health.  Midges, Baetis and Caddis larva imitations along with smaller searching patterns such as Pheasant Tails and Tactical nymphs.  Once the cool weather ends and run-off returns, this will remain one of the more stable options for river fishing.  Be prepared for crowds and as such, adjust your tactics for those crowds: Reduce your tippet size, move with a steady, softer motion that doesn’t alert fist to your presence and study the water for signs of fish before wading in or casting blindly.  Little things like that can help with your success on small, heavily pressured streams even more than having the rights flies on your rig. 

Flies: Breadcrust, Duracell Jig, Perdigon Nymphs, Poison Tung, 5-0 Midge, Pure Midge Larva, Flashback Pheasant Tail, RS-2, Foam Wing RS-2, Buckskin, Tungsten Psycho Mayfly, Barr’s Emerger, Miller’s Tactical Plus One


Eagle River

Flow: 635 @
Conditions:  Flows have receded for the time being but, that can’t last for long given the amount of snow in the upper valley.  Hopefully this will remain an option through the weekend.  Even so, the up river stretches above Milk Creek (downstream of Wolcott) will offer the more consistent conditions.  Caddis and Baetis both continue to be in play depending on the weather.  Cloudy days are best for Baetis with the potential to see a Caddis emergence late in the afternoon on sunny days.  Look for any sheltered lies off of the main current that you can find.  As the water level rises, many of those spots may not be bigger than the bed of a pickup truck.  Dries may pull a few fish along the edge water with Caddis and attractor patterns but, nymphs are going to be the more consistent approach.  Stoneflies, Caddis pupa, beaded searching nymphs and the odd San Juan pattern to start and if you land a fish or tow, maybe do a stomach pump to see if there are any other options that you have overlooked.  While it’s about to get shut down for run-off, the future for the Eagle this summer is bright, as a strong snow-pack and cool temperatures this spring should provide a healthy amount of water, keeping it in the mix well into August. 

.Flies: Duracell Jig, Tungsten Psycho May, RS-2, Juju Baetis, Darth Baetis, Aero Baetis, Perdigon Nymph, Miller’s Tactical Plus one, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Psycho Prince, Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Yeager’s Soft Hackle J, Sparkle Worm, Glister Grub, Huevos


Spinney Mountain Reservoir

Conditions:

Flies: Chironomids, Hares Ear, Pheasant Tail, Zebra Midge, Eggs, Rabbit Leech, Hale Bopp leech


Delaney Buttes Lakes

Conditions: Open and fishing fairly strong for ice off. South has had the more consistent action, with just a few large fish being caught on North.

Flies: Buggers, Chironomids, Calibaetis and Eggs and such.


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