Colorado Fishing Report

November 10th, 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: November 9, 2018

 

Winter has certainly arrived to the high country a bit earlier than the past couple of years.  With some areas around here seeing upwards of 4 feet of snow already, it actually looks like winter.  As well, overnight temperatures are dropping into the single digits in many places and that is having an impact on water temps, which in turn impacts trout activity.  That being said, it isn’t necessary to get out on the water at the crack of dawn.  On the freestones at least, best practice has been to hit the river about 10 and wrap it up by 4.  The tailwaters are a different story, as water temps are more stable, and should be good dawn to dusk.

Solid fishing options remain available across the area.  Just keep in mind that everything is relative.  What may constitute as good on the second week of November, is totally different than what is good in mid-July.  The fishing requires a more determined effort, with patience being as valuable as any fly in your box.  As well, unlike the dog days of summer when we are searching for the smallest bit of a shadow to cover the water, at this time of year you will generally want to seek out the areas that are going to enjoy good amounts of sun, in order to boost water temps from their overnight lows and get both the bugs and fish moving.  Unfortunately as low as the water is in some places, the sun will make the fish very sensitive to angler movement.

Low water is hampering the action in some spots but, there is still good wading access on the Blue, Colorado, Roaring Fork and mid to lower Arkansas to names a few.  While flows on the Colorado continue to offer enough water to float, even a hard boat, from Pumphouse down to Rifle.

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

Blue River Below Dillon Reservoir

Flow: 54 cfs
Conditions: Conditions in town remain steady, with low and clear flows, and should stay that way through the entirety of the winter season, if not longer due to the water situation.  However, that is actually not as dire of a situation as it sounds, as there are state mandated minimum flows that Denver Water can’t drop below and that is more than enough water to keep the Blue a solid destination this winter.  This is typical of the Blue at this time of year and having the right approach to the river will be more important than having the right bugs.  These conditions create some of the more technical fishing in the area, as the 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 after the traffic has dissipated.  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: 221 cfs
Conditions: Although flows have been slightly erratic over the past month, ranging from 160 to 280 cfs, they have generally settled in to their typical winter level, which is in the neighborhood of 200.  We are anticipating a lower than average release from Green Mountain this winter, as the reservoir is near it’s bottom for minimum pool elevation, we just don’t know when that will happen.  At any rate, this will be one of the more consistent destinations for the winter and flows will stay low enough to cross the river, opening up a much greater range of water to fish.  At this level you shouldn’t have to drop all the way down to 6x, as 5 should be light enough and maybe even some 4x in the right water.  Nymphing will remain the most consistent but streamers have been doing quite nicely on certain days and the dry fly fishing will have it’s moments, particularly on cloudy days.  Then again, this spot fishes considerably better with all methods as the weather deteriorates.  Problem is that the canyon is cold enough on a sunny day, let alone during a snow storm.  On the sunny days, fish will be very sensitive to angler movements so, make sure to keep a low profile and keep your movements slow and quiet.   There are still Baetis in play but, those should wrap up shortly, leaving midges to be the primary hatches of note until spring.  As well, we typically see action on searching nymphs, Stonefly patterns and the spaghetti and meatball stuff through the winter under an indicator. 

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. 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: 350 +/- cfs
Conditions: Another good option for winter anglers, as the influx of tailwater flows from the William’s Fork helps to keep at least a little open water here, even during the coldest stretches of winter.  Those days are still a way off though so, there is still a good deal of access here for wading anglers.  Baetis are wrapping up but, you can still find sparse hatches emerging on the right day.  However, action should remain strong on nymph imitations for those same Baetis for some time yet, if not really through out the winter.  Along with those look for Midge patterns, small Stonefly nymphs and searching patterns to find fish and of course, various eggs and worms tend to be popular with the Parshal set.  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.  As the winter takes hold, traffic here will go up as other options shut down so be prepared for the potential to encounter other anglers.  With that in mind, give each other a little room.  It’s not the South Platte, let’s try and observe a greater amount of etiquette with regards to personal space.

 

Flies: Winger BWO, CDC Para BWO, No Hackle BWO, GT Adult BWO, 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: 607 cfs. @ Pumphouse
Conditions:  Flows and clarity remain solid for this time of year.  However, both air and water temps have taken a hit over the early part of the month.  After the past couple of years have seen relatively mild transitions from fall to winter, it may seem like this is out of the ordinary.  It is not.  This is more typical of this time of year than not but, that doesn’t mean the fishing is done.  You just have to plan your day accordingly to have a better chance at success for the conditions.  Take your time in the morning and resist the urge to get out at the crack of dawn, water temps will take a bit to rebound from overnight lows, in order to generate the bug activity that will then drive fish activity.  Focus your efforts on areas that see a greater amount of sunlight over the course of the day, this will also help to warm water temps and boost fish activity.  As well, look for water types that may offer a slight bit more break from the current, while not being totally devoid of movement – the tailout of runs, deeper seams along the current and eddie lines and ledges below riffles etc.  There are still the final vestiges of Baetis emerging very sporadically and adult imitations for those can work when emerging bugs are present.  As well, Midge activity is on the rise and dry fly patterns for the like have started to work for rising fish.  However, the more consistent results are going to be on nymph rigs, either in a classic tandem nymph rig under and indicator of some type, or as part of a dry dropper set up.  The usual imitations for Baetis and Midges are working well, particularly as part of a rig that is trailing them behind Stonefly and beaded searching nymphs.  Tippet size is moderate with 3 to 5x covering all of your needs for fishing insects but, if you are going to get more aggressive and pitch the meat at them, feel free to step it up a notch and try some 1 – 2x.  Keep in mind that as we move into winter accessibility to some of the more popular spots may get tough, as the road into Pumphouse sees no winter maintenance and will essentially close after it gets too deep.  That hasn’t happened for the past couple of years but, we would like to see that be a major issue this year.  Not only because we need a big snow year for healthy rivers next season but, to give the fish a break for a couple of months, as well, again insuring a healthier river.

 

Flies: Pat’s Rubber Legs, Psycho Prince, Yeager’s Soft Hackle, Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Duracell, Lil Spanker, Millers Tactical Plus 1, Hippie Stomper, various Parachute Mayfly imitations, Tungsten Psycho May, Darth Baetis, Eggs, San Juan Worm, Sculpzilla, Silver Bullet, Sex Dungeon, Cheech Leech, Crystal Bugger


Colorado Below Glenwood Springs

Flow: 1510 ??? cfs
Conditions: We’re not exactly sure if the gauge down here is correct, considering the flows along the upper river, the Eagle and Roaring Fork don’t add up to this number but, that’s what the gauge says.  It is at least safe to say it’s in the 1250 to 1300 range.  Either way that is a fairly low flow for this stretch of the drainage and should open up additional wading opportunities on a stretch of river that is generally a bigger piece of water.  Look for Baetis to still be present, as well as a growing number of Midges.  Tandem nymph rigs or deep dry-dropper set-ups using a large attractor/hopper on the surface.  For the nymphs, anchor the set up with a Stonefly or larger beaded searching nymph and follow that up with an imitation for the actual insects that are active – Baetis and Midges.  Ledges, deep pockets, structure, eddy lines and edge water will offer the best chance to find fish sheltering and feeding in the same lie.  The streamer fishing has been relatively productive this fall but, we are seeing a slowing of that action as water temps fall and, quite frankly, the fish are getting a bit wise to the over used streamer attack this year.  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, Sex Dungeon, Heisenberg Streamers, Sculpzilla, Silver Bullet.


 

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 choke points in the river 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.  As well, if you are fishing at this elevation as the nights get longer, colder and less forgiving, you also want to focus on those areas that get a decent amount of direct sun in order to boost water temps.  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 a little interest on the surface, even if most of it will be 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 fish and to not be standing on top of one another. 

Flies:  Small Chubbies, Amy’s Ant, Bottle Humpy, CDC Para Dun BWO, Para Extended Body BWO,  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: 245 cfs @ Salida
Conditions: With the cold temperatures settling across the higher elevations, the middle section of the Arkansas around Salida becomes a solid destination, as a lower elevation in the southern part of the state tends to be a bit warmer than the options from I-70 to the north.  As well, there are still a few greater numbers of Baetis hanging around.  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. 

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, Psycho Prince, Hammerhead, Duracell Jig, Crane Bomb, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Yeager’s Soft Hackle J


Roaring Fork River at Glenwood Springs

Flow: 486 cfs
Conditions:  Flows are very low and make for some bumpy boating if you are in a hard boat. On the positive, the river seems to have recovered a bit from the adverse conditions of a summer of low and warm water.  One of the effects of that situation was that it shut down the river with regards to fishing and everyone moved to other water.  As we have transitioned through fall to the early stage of winter, that traffic has not returned in any great wave, as of yet, and the fishing has been solid.  Nymphing will continue to offer the most consistent action throughout the day.  Beaded searching patterns and Baetis imitations have all been producing good results, along with the typical fall spawn patterns(if you’re into that sort of thing).  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 have been more aggressive in their search for calories to fuel the upcoming spawn. 

Flies:  Beaded Pheasant Tail, Pat’s Rubber Legs #8-10, Psycho Prince, CDC Prince, Hot Wire Prince, Standard Pheasant Tail, Tung Split case BWO, Foam Wing RS2, Darth Baetis, Tung Psycho May Olive or Black, BH Mayfly Micro, Frenchie, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Duracell Jig, Root Beer Float, Yeager’s Soft Hackle,


South Platte River, Middle Fork

Flow: 12 cfs
Conditions: Pretty close to done for this spot for the season.  With flows as low as they have been and the cold settling in for winter, the open water is going to be getting tough to find.  As it was though, it had been fairly technical with the fish being extremely sensitive under such low flow conditions.  If you are in the neighborhood and find a bit of open water that has enough cover give it a try but, we wouldn’t set out in the morning with this as a solid destination. Light tippet and even lighter footsteps.  Please pay attention in your wading for any late spawning Browns.  Don’t disturb them either in your wading or by fishing to them.  Give em a break and let them procreate. 

Flies:  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: 135 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 October and November. 

Flies:


Williams Fork River Below Dam

Flow: 124 cfs
Conditions: Despite a slight reduction this week, flows remain at a very solid level for this popular tailwater. We’re not sure how long this can last with the water situation that we have had to deal with this year but, as long as it does this may be one of the better options available for the near future.  There are still sporadic Baetis hanging on but, look for Midges to start to take over the interest of fish for the better part of the winter.  That being said, typically small Baetis nymphs and emerger patterns fished in tandem with Midge pupa, larva and emerger imitations is a good place to start for set up.  As well, we like small Caddis nymphs through out the entire year, particularly Buckskin and Bread crust in 16-18. As well, mix in a San Juan Worm pattern along with a searching pattern such as a flashback pheasant tail. At this flow, 5x should be thin enough for that lead fly, followed with a piece of 6x to the bottom fly or if you feel you need a little extra drop to 6 for the entire rig. 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.  Keep in mind that this is a very popular spot as the list of options narrows in the winter, so be prepared to encounter other anglers on most day. 

Flies: Bead Head Breadcrust, Epoxy Biot Stone, San Juan Worm, Flashback Pheasant Tail, Split Case BWO, Poxy-Biot Nymph, Buckskin, Flossy Worm, Two Bit Hooker, Tungsten Micro Mayfly, 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: Stream flows on the Eagle, like everywhere this season, remain below normal.  That, combined with gin clear clarity, is creating some technical conditions.  Fish are very sensitive after a long season with less habitat to spread out in, and are a bit on the touchy side.  Use a slow approach to any run that you fish, with light tippet and delicate presentation.  Look for any spot that actually offers a little bit of depth to provide cover.  Baetis and bead head searching nymphs along with Midge pupa and larva have been productive in areas that fish have found to hole up.  Cloudy days will help to give you a little bit of cover as you move along the river.  Please be aware of clear gravel and spawning fish and avoid wading and fishing in those areas at all costs. 

Flies:  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: Check with State Parks to see if the lake is still open.  Could close any day now.

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


Delaney Buttes Lakes

Conditions: Fishing had been fairly decent from shore but, as the temperature has dropped and stayed cold, the ice may start to form very soon.

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


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