Colorado Fishing Report

September 2nd, 2018

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)

Winter Hours:

Monday – Saturday 7:30 am – 6:00 pm

Sunday 7:30 am – 5 pm

 

Recent Update: September 2, 2018

 

A combination of weather, season and water calls are all having a positive impact on what had been some concerning water temperatures.  First, the late summer water call on the upper Colorado has put a solid 1100 cfs of cool, tail-water release into the river.  Second, is with the days now getting noticeably shorter, the nights are getting longer and that provides a little less time for overnight lows to rebound to those higher levels under daytime sun.  Finally, we have been getting some relatively good cloud cover in the afternoon.  Even though we haven’t been seeing too much rain out of that cloud cover, the temperature stabilizing effect of the overcast skies has been real.

Although the benefits of the water call situation is beneficial to a specific drainage, the Colorado, the other two situations have an impact on every drainage.  We have seen daily water temp improvements every where when the clouds roll in.  That’s not to say that we are out of the woods just yet.  Please, continue to pay close attention to water temperatures throughout the day and pack it in once they climb above 65 degrees.  In particular the Eagle from Wolcott down continues to surpass 65 degrees, combine that with low flows and you have a recipe for low oxygen levels.

On the other hand, the Arkansas does offer a fairly good low water option, due to the combination of higher elevation, steep gradient, plentiful public access and low traffic from other users.  And this time of year is the perfect time to maybe check out some of that additional access beyond the Hayden meadows area that seems to get 90% of the attention on the upper river.  One of the often overlooked details of the Ark is fishing in the sections of river that see heavy raft traffic in the summer.  With flows too low to float boats through some stretches that need big water to raft, there are great spots to explore now, that aren’t an option the rest of the year.  In particular, the Numbers and Brown’s Canyon.

As for bugs, we are seeing late summer hatches of Tricos playing a role in early day feeding, while early fall hatches of Baetis are starting to build on just about every river around.  There are still locations with micro Caddis, Golden Stones, Green Drakes and PMDs, but those are not as widespread as just a few weeks ago.  On the other hand, terrestrials are available throughout the high country and we are seeing fairly consistent action on a variety of hopper, ant and beetle imitations.

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

Blue River Below Dillon Reservoir

Flow: 56 cfs
Conditions: Flows have fallen to near bottom levels, as Dillon Reservoir is dropping at a steady rate, as water is being shipped out through the Roberts tunnel to the east side of the divide.  This will make for some of the more technical fishing in the area, as low and clear flows, with high sun and constant traffic have a way of making fish sensitive to angler presence.  That being said, there are still fish being caught through town on a mix of nymphs and even a few dries.  Keys to success: Drop your tippet down as low as you can handle, 6 and even 7x if you have it.  Fish early in the day; before wading anglers spook fish, or again later in the afternoon/evening.  Take a measured approach to the water, slow and soft footsteps, limit your wading and take your time to fish across the pool – don’t rush in and cast to the far bank because it looks like the fish should be there.  With the low flows, there will be a very inconsistent amount of Mysis entering the water.  And while you will still find fish feeding on imitations for shrimp, particularly the closer to the dam that you get, don’t rely on Mysis to be the money fly.  Midges, Baetis nymphs and emergers, along with skinny San Juan Worm patterns have all been catching fish.

 

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, And work in a streamer every once in a while, as well. Often over looked but, randomly deadly.


Blue River Below Green Mountain

Flow: 810 cfs
Conditions: Big flows continue to flow out of Green Mountain, making it tough for widespread wading but, action has been good where it is possible.  Green Drakes are still emerging form the river in limited numbers but, the PMDs have filled in nicely and fish are responding to dry fly imitations for both, as well as Caddis, Stones and attractors.  Nymphing is as strong as always in the canyon, with good results on Stonefly, PMD, Green Drake and larger sized bead head searching patterns.  As big as the flow is, make sure to bump up your tippet to at least 4x but, bigger would be better if you want to hang on to anything that you hook into.  Obviously, this is more than enough water to float the lower river and action has been decent.  We would like to encourage responsible boating and remind boaters not to trespass.  Please be respectful of private property along the river and keep in mind that once you pass Spring Creek Rd, there is little to no public access.  We are not exactly sure how much longer the Bureau of Reclamation can keep up with the rate of release.  Looking at recent history under similar circumstances regarding drought and heat, we gotta believe that this flow will start to taper off by the end of the first week of September.  Then again, you never can tell when it comes to water management.

 

Flies: Dries: Elk Hair Caddis, Sparkle Bug, Stimulator, Para Drake, H & D Para Drake, Extended Body Green Drake, H & L Variant, Lawson’s PMD, Sulphur Silhouette Dun, Twisted X Yellow with Red. Big bead heads: Deep Dish Green Drake, Hare’s Ear, Tungteaser, Pheasant Tail, Rubberlegs, Psycho Prince, Duracell Jig, Flossy Worm. 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: 225 cfs
Conditions: With the help of a solid release out of the Williams Fork, the public water stretch of river from the confluence down through the Sunset Ranch BLM access is in good shape.  This is enough water, and cool enough, that fish are widely distributed throughout the river.  As well, temperatures are still prime for providing good late summer hatches of Tricos, Baetis and micro Caddis.  Early in the day focus on nymph imitations for those bugs and pay attention to signs of an impending emergence.  As you see that happen direct your attentions to the riffles and the flats or runs just below those riffles, where fish will stage to feed on drifting nymphs.  If we get mid-day cloud cover the chance at a solid dry fly event is pretty decent.  At that point you should be able to find fish rising river wide in a multitude of water types; riffles, flats, pockets and runs.

 

Flies: Small Chubbies, Winger BWO, CDC Para BWO, Indicator Trico, No Hackle BWO,GT Adult BWO, Sparkle Bug, Stimulator, Hippie Stomper, Para Purple, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Flossy Worm, CDC Pheasant Tail, Bead Prince, Psycho Prince, Breadcrust, Hammerhead Nymph, Lil Spanker, Tungsten Hackled, Pheasant Tail #14-18, Redemption BWO, Split Case BWo, Tungsten Micro Mayfly Brown, Tungsten Juju Baetis, Aero Baetis, Root Beer Float


Colorado River Pumphouse to Dotsero

Flow: 1150 cfs. @ Pumphouse
Conditions:  A Conditions remain solid along the upper river in large part to water calls on the lower river.  Cold water from Williams Fork and Green Mountain, along with additional volume from Wolford have brought the flow up to solid levels and reduce the temperature to healthier numbers for trout.  In fact, as is the case on years of lower flows, these are quite possibly the best flows of the year on the Colorado.   Although things are greatly improved from just a couple of weeks back, we are still recommending that you continue to carry a thermometer with you to keep an eye on those temps, as there have been the odd day of warmer temperatures.  Clarity has been mostly good, with day-to-day periods of off color water if a heavy rain fell the day before.  If you show up and it’s less than a foot, that is off color and you may want to move up or down to find better visibility.  As well, the additional flow has pushed some of the moss out but, there is still a good bit attached to rocks and drifting to create a need for semi-regular maintenance.  Dry dropper and nymphing has been most consistently productive, especially on the sunny days but, if clouds roll in fish have been responding to a mix of Trico, Baetis, Terrestrial and attractor dry flies.
Flies: Pat’s Rubber Legs, Psycho Prince, Yeager’s Soft Hackle, Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Duracell, Lil Spanker, Iron Sally, Masked Marauder, Millers Tactical Plus 1, Hippie Stomper, Chubby Chernobyl, various Parachute Mayfly imitations, Stimulator, Parachute Hopper, Ant patterns, Tungsten Psycho May, Darth Baetis, Eggs, San Juan Worm, Sculpzilla, Silver Bullet, Sex Dungeon, Cheech Leech, Crystal Bugger


Colorado Below Glenwood Springs

Flow: 1980 cfs
Conditions: Water quality is on the rebound as shorter days are bringing cooler overnight temps and water calls are helping to move water through the lower basin.  That being said, please still carry a thermometer with you and keep an eye on temps as the days goes on.  September is a great month to fish the lower river, as typically lower flows help to make the river more manageable for wade anglers.  Most of the action will be on a mix of nymphs for Golden Stone, Tricos, Baetis and Caddis, along with beaded searching patterns.  Tandem nymph rigs or deep dry-dropper set-ups using a Golden Stone or attractor on the surface.  Ledges, deep pockets, structure, eddy lines and edge water will offer the best chance to find fish sheltering and feeding in the same lie.  This stretch of the river is entirely different than anything upstream from Dotsero but, if you can get past it’s proximity to the highway it is definitely worth the trip.  Although floating it does offer the best access for the patchwork of public water that can be hard to reach on foot, there are plenty of spots to drive/walk in to.  Don’t let the size of the river intimidate you, rather break it down into smaller pieces and fish it like you would any other wade river you are familiar with.  This stretch consistently produces some of the nicest Rainbows on the Colorado River and fall is a great time to get out and explore this overlooked location.

 

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, G6 Caddis, Thrift Shop Caddis, San Juan Worm patterns, Lil Spanker, Tung Psycho May, Big Spanker, Rainbow Warrior, Magic Fly, RS-2, Bead Eggs, Otter Egg, Flossy Worm, H&L Variant, GT Adult Green Drake, Stalcup’s Green Drake Adult, Furimsky’s Foam Green Drake, CDC Para Green Drake, Stimulator.


 

Arkansas River Above Buena Vista

Flow: 95 @ Granite
Conditions: Fall is a great time to hit the Arkansas, as raft traffic is down, crowds are gone and the majority of the population of trout in the river are Brown Trout, which are ramping up for the spawn and feeding heavily.  This year will be a little different that a typical year due to the low flows but, there will still be plenty of opportunities along the upper river.  Focus your efforts in the narrower, canyon-like water where there will still be enough depth for trout to shelter and feed without feeling as exposed as in the areas that are wider and shallower.  (Below Granite and in the Numbers to name a couple)  As low as the flow is, dry-dropper rigs are ideal.  Typically, your dry is not that far above your nymph and you should be able to get almost as much interest at times on the surface as on the nymph.  Small stones, beaded searching patterns and Baetis imitations are all you need for the droppers, with terrestrials and mid-sized attractors covering the top water.  If clouds happen to roll in, then look for a good Blue Wing hatch to emerge.  Try to spread out from other anglers if you can and keep the experience a good one for all. This is NOT your usual tailwater, where etiquette is overlooked in favor of getting your hero shot.  This is a high altitude freestone, with an air of solitude.  With miles of public access between Leadville and Buena Vista, there is more than enough room to not be standing on top of one another.
Flies: Para X, Elk Hair Caddis, Stimulator, Foamulator, Small Chubbies, Amy’s Ant, Bottle Humpy, Fuzzy Wuzzy, 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, Flossy Worm, Silver Bullet, Sparkle Minnow.


Arkansas River Salida Area

Flow: 215 cfs @ Salida
Conditions: Flows have dropped to lower than average even for fall on the Ark.  That being said, you can still find plenty of good wade fishing destinations along the river, you just need to adjust your tactics a little.  Primarily by focusing on the water type that offers good sheltering lies for trout that don’t leave them feeling too exposed in the low and clear conditions.  In many spots that will be in the middle of the channel, while in others it will be in pockets or on eddy lines.  As well your movement on the river should be a bit more measured in how you approach any spot that you fish.  Move slow, with soft footsteps.  Avoid wading too quickly with excessive splash.  The fish will be sensitive to any overly dramatic movements under these conditions, so don’t give them too much advanced notice of your presence.  Dry droppers will be an ideal way to cover the river.  Hoppers and attractors on the surface followed up with a mix of beaded searching patterns, small stones, Baetis imitations and other small mayflies.  4x shouldn’t be too heavy for the dry in that set up but, drop down to 5x for the nymphs.  If you are fortunate to get cloud cover, then double dries should be very productive.  Small to mid sized attractor or hopper on point with your favorite parachute mayfly imitation trailing behind.  Although water temps have started to recover, it would be wise to continue to check them as the day goes on, particularly if it is a warm and sunny day.  Water levels this low allow for a rapid warming in bright sunlight.
 

Flies: Hopper Juan, Amy’s Ant, BC Hopper, Stream Bank Hopper, 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, Iron Sallie, Psycho Prince, Hammerhead, Duracell Jig, Crane Bomb, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Yeager’s Soft Hackle J, Tan Pat’s Rubber, Tungsten Yellow Sallie, Masked Marauder


Roaring Fork River at Glenwood Springs

Flow: 440 cfs
Conditions: Flows are very low and make for some bumpy boating if you are in a hard boat.  Water temps are still a slight concern on the lower river but, have improved to allow for safer fishing on most of the river.  Nymphing will continue to offer the most consistent action throughout the day.  Stoneflies, beaded searching patterns and Baetis imitations have all been producing good results.  Low and clear water means finer tippet sizes, 4 and 5x in most spots have been adequate.   There has also been an uptick in the streamer bite at times, as fall is in the air and Browns are getting more aggressive in their search for calories to fuel the upcoming spawn.

 

Flies: Stimulator, Elk Hair Caddis, Killer Green Bug, GT Green Drake, H&D Drake, H&L Variant, Ginger Variant Caddis, Mini Foamulator, Deep Dish Drake, Beaded Pheasant Tail, Pat’s Rubber Legs #8-10, Psycho Prince, CDC Prince, Hot Wire Prince, Standard Pheasant Tail, Iron Sally, Frenchie, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Duracell Jig, Root Beer Float, Yeager’s Soft Hackle,


South Platte River, Middle Fork

Flow: 15 cfs
Conditions: Flows are at late summer levels, as in low.  Fish will be very sensitive to angler movement and poor presentations.  Walk softly, minimize wading, tie on the 6x and take your time.  Dry droppers with small terrestrials on top followed up with a mix of small mayfly and searching patterns will give you the best chance.  Please pay attention in your wading for any early spawning Browns.  Don’t disturb them either in your wading or by fishing to them.  Give em a break and let them procreate.

Flies: Mini Foamulator, Stimulator, Elk Hair Caddis, Parachute Hopper, Dave’s Hopper, Yeti Hopper, Royal Trude, Beaded Prince, Duracell Jig, Hammerhead Jig, Red Collar PT, Beaded Pheasant Tail, Big Spanker, Zebra Midge, Mirage Midge, Red Neck Midge


South Platte, Dream Stream

Flow: 118 cfs
Conditions: Flows are at a decent level and water temps are coming down slightly.  Action has been fair at best as the pressure of summer traffic and conditions have put a strain on this overly popular spot.  Small Baetis imitations along with Caddis and midge pupa for the subsurface patterns, while small terrestrials, a few remaining Tricos and an increasing Baetis emergence drive the dry fly action.

 

Flies: Two Bit Hooker Black, Black RS-2, Indicator Trico, CDC Trico, Para CDC Trico, Graphic Caddis, Buckskin, Glister Grub, Yeager Soft Hackle J, Parachute Ant, GB Caddis Pupa,RS-2, Aero Baetis, Red Neck Midge, Poison Tung, Small Pheasant Tail and Flash Back Pheasant Tails


Williams Fork River Below Dam

Flow: 115 cfs
Conditions: Flows remain at a very solid level for this popular tailwater.  Stonefly, Caddis, Red Quill and Baetis nymphs can all be productive. As well, mix in a San Juan Worm pattern along with a searching pattern such as a flashback pheasant tail.  On the technical points, 5x should be adequate for tippet in most runs but, the flats may warrant dropping to 6 if fish are rising.  Don’t underestimate the amount of weight needed in your nymph rig, the narrowness of this river creates a deceptively faster flow than it would appear to be running.  A  single #1 or BB should cover most runs.

 

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


Eagle River

Flow: 105 @ Edwards 150 @ Gypsum
Conditions: Well, that was quick.  Low snow pack, warm temperatures and a lack of rain have pushed conditions on the Eagle to the extreme of late summer levels.  Although water temps have begun to improve, it is still a dangerous situation on the lower river.  Carry your thermometer, and use it.  Try to stay above Eagle at all times and by noon you should be well above Wolcott as extreme temperatures dictate.  Action still remains solid in many locations, but we want to minimize the stress put on fish in adverse conditions.  Still finding Tricos and Caddis in the upper stretches of the valley but, seeing more widespread availability to Baetis throughout.  As well, small terrestrials are finding fish under the right conditions and water types.  Focus on the oxygenated water, limit your handling of fish and don’t prolong the fight just for a photo.

 

Flies:  Elk Hair Caddis, Caddis Variant Ginger, Stimulator, Hippy Stomper, Cubby Chernobyl, Para Ant, High Vis Beetle, Duracell Jig, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Psycho Prince, Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Yeager’s Soft Hackle J, Thompson’s Forky Baetis, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Root Beer Float, Tung Psycho May, Poison Tung, BH Biot Midge, Foam Wing RS-2, Rainbow Warrior, Red Neck Midge, Darth Baetis


Spinney Mountain Reservoir

Conditions: Warm water has pushed fish deep.  Typical stillwater mix of Chironmids, Calibaetis, Leeches and Crayfish

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


Delaney Buttes Lakes

Conditions: Shore Fishing has been slightly better than from boats but, that will change as the water warms and trout return to their normal range, particularly along weed beds.

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


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