The Colorado Angler Fishing Report – December 1, 2017

December 1st, 2017

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)

Summer Hours:

Monday – Sunday 7:00 am – 7:00 pm

 

Recent Update: December 1, 2017

 

Although we have seen temperatures trend down slightly over the past week, above average weather continues across the entire state.  This remains a very positive situation for anglers, as we continue to enjoy both comfortable days on the water, as well as additional options to fish in the form of freestone rivers that remain ice free.  As it is now, we are still seeing good fishing conditions on the Upper and Lower Colorado, Eagle, Arkansas and Roaring Fork, several weeks past their normal season.

Look for those conditions to continue through at least the first half of the weekend, with a chance of a cool down and snow maybe starting late Sunday, into Monday morning.  Now that we are past the holiday weekend, we have seen a noticeable drop in traffic, which had spiked with out-of-town visitors whom had found the river to be a better destination than the ski slopes once they got to town.  That being said, there may still be a few more anglers than typical for this time of year out there on the river but, it is by no means crowded.

General Tips at the Moment:

Even though the weather feels as it is still late fall instead of early winter, the calendar doesn’t lie when it comes to daylight hours. That being the case, you will want to focus your efforts on the late morning through mid-afternoon for the greatest success, 10 am to 3 pm on most rivers has been the most productive time frame. Look for water that offers some cover from the heaviest currents as well as from predators under these late season conditions of low and very clear water; ledges, runs and pools seem to be the best place to start.

The spawn is wrapping up for the most part but, there are still active spawners our there in some spots. PLEASE, leave these fish to their seasonal task of procreation and resist the urge to fish for them. It’s not cool to hammer fish off of their beds during the time of year that naturally impacts the highest level of stress on them. Any additional stress can lead to higher than average mortality rates and a decline in trout populations for years to come.

Generally speaking it will be Midges on most rivers, with a few remaining Baetis scattered around. Detail 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: 135 cfs
Conditions:  A very nice stream flow for this time of year.  According to our contacts at Denver water, that should continue for the majority of the winter, as they are doing some maintenance at the dam facility that will last until early spring.  This is great news for the tailwater fishery, as we find that any flow above 100 cfs is beneficial to the food supply and subsequent feeding by the fish.  Action has been decent, with the most consistent results coming on subsurface patterns for Mysis, Midges and some Baetis emergers – specifically RS-2s.  As well, the usual tailwater staples of Eggs, San Juans and small searching patterns have been finding some fish.  With this slightly elevated flow, you might be able to get away with some 5x to your top nymph but, we would recommend a more typical 6x from that down to your bottom fly.  Also, think about a little more weight than would be typical for this time of year, some spots are even warranting a BB size shot.  As the saying goes, most often the thing that separates a nymph fisherman from a successful nymph fisherman is the amount of weight used in their set-up.  For those dry fly enthusiasts out there, we have been seeing scattered fish feeding on the surface at times.  Keep your eyes peeled, as it will not be widespread.  If you do find fish on the surface they have been taking emerging Midges in Black, Chocolate and Dun colors, sized #22-26.  Good luck with that.

 

Town Flies: BTS Shrimp, Tim’s Mysis, Stalcup’s Mysis, 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: 265 +/- cfs
Conditions:  Flows have settled in to their winter lows allowing for much greater access, as you can now cross the river relatively safely and double the amount of water available for fishing.  Overall fishing has been very good, as the fish haven’t been to hammered into seclusion just yet and as a bonus, the frigid temperatures typical of the canyon in the winter have yet to settle in.  But, those days are coming so, get in on this before it’s too late.  Results will be best on tandem nymph rigs, with a wide assortment of patterns.  At this time of year you will want to emphasize the Midge and Baetis imitations but, there continues to be action on Stonefly imitations, Eggs and mid-sized searching patterns fished as the point fly in those tandem rigs.  Cloudy days have been slightly more consistent for action, as the low and clear flows tend to magnify your shadows and movements on sunny days.  As well, those overcast days have produced a little interest in surface feeding to emerging midges along with some minor streamer activity.  Even though flows are at seasonal lows, don’t underestimate the amount of weight needed to get your flies down to fish holding on the bottom of deep runs.  As well, 5x mono should be adequate enough for the clarity, with 4x fluorocarbon working too.  If you aren’t familiar with this piece of river in the winter, be prepared for the steep access from the parking area down to the river.  Just a little bit of snow or moisture on the slope can make for a treacherous descent or climb back out at the end of the day.  And it should go without saying but, please leave the spawners alone.

 

Flies: 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, 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:  Flows are getting down to winter lows as the Williams Fork is only adding 50cfs to the native flow in the river.  However, the river remains wide open below the confluence as winter temperatures have yet to get very cold.  Action has been pretty solid for the past several weeks, with the majority of that action coming on nymph imitations fished in tandem nymph rigs.  Interest has been best on a mix of small midge pupa and larva imitations, and Baetis patterns.  We are also finding success on small to medium sized Stonefly and searching nymphs used as the lead flies in those set-ups.  With the low and clear conditions, tippet in 5 to 6x has been most productive in both mono and fluoro.  Don’t overlook the factor that weight plays into the equation either.  Even with the low flow there is a need for your flies to get down expeditiously in the compact and deep winter lies that fish are favoring right now.  Look for runs and pools that offer a little bit of depth that can provide cover from predators in these clear water conditions, preferably with a decent bit of current at the top end of them to bring in both food and oxygen.  Likewise, avoid the slow and shallow flat water that will leave them exposed.  There may still be a little open water above the confluence with the Willie’s but, that will be a much lower percentage option now. concentrate your efforts below that influx of tailwater stability.

 

Flies: Pat’s Rubber Legs, Flossy Worm, CDC Pheasant Tail, Bead Prince, Psycho Prince, Hammerhead Nymph, Lil Spanker, Tungsten Hackled, Pheasant Tail #18-22, Black Copper John #20-22, Tung Psycho May, Split Case BWO, Tungsten Micro Mayfly Brown, Tungsten Juju Baetis, Aero Baetis, Root Beer Float, Zebra Midge, RS-2, Foam Wing RS-2, Red Neck Midge, BH Biot Midge, 5-0 Midge, WD40, Pure Midge Larva


Colorado River Pumphouse to Dotsero

Flow: 510 cfs. @ Pumphouse
Conditions:  Action continues to be decent through the middle part of the day.  As is the case everywhere right now, subsurface patterns fished in a traditional tandem nymph rig will offer the most consistent results.  Anchor your set-up with a Stonefly, Egg or mid-sized searching pattern and follow that up with a Midge or Baetis imitation.  4 and 5x tippet are adequate with the current flow and clarity and make sure to use enough weight to come in contact with the bottom on occasion, just often enough to know that you are getting it down where trout are holding as they conserve energy at this time of year.  Look for fish to be holding toward the center of the river in slightly deeper runs, flats and glides.  As well, please avoid fishing to the few remaining spawners in the riffles, or walking/wading through those areas which may contain Redds.  With the low light and shorter days, daytime temperatures are slow to climb in the morning.  As such, we have found the wider valley areas to be more productive in the morning before water temps start to rise slightly.  Conversely, we have been finding little to no success in any of the canyon stretches.  That being said those areas from Pumphouse down to Little Gore, Rancho to Cable Rapid, Bond to Two Bridges have been more consistent.


Floating Tip: As the river runs lower, please proceed with caution.  Shallow, narrow channels littered with exposed rocks and sleepers requires a lot of navigational skill.  If you are unfamiliar with the river at these levels ask someone that is familiar with it about what to expect.  And by all means, wear your PFD.  Cold water and lower currents can neutralize your amazing swimming ability (more exposed rocks and sleepers!). There’s nothing cool about drowning.

 

Flies: Pat’s Rubber Legs, Psycho Prince, Yeager’s Soft Hackle, Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Duracell, Lil Spanker, Mirage Zebra Midge, Foam Wing RS-2, Poison Tung, BH Biot Midge, 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:  Conditions on the lower river remain fantastic and the action continues to be solid, as well.  Although best results have been on deep, tandem nymph rigs, there are still some fish being taken on streamers.  With those nymph set-ups, lead with a medium to large beaded searching nymph, Stonefly imitation or Egg pattern and follow that up with a Baetis or Midge of your choice.  Clarity for this part of the river is in great shape but, you can still be stealthy enough with 4x tippet, even 3x if you would prefer a little more holding power when you hook up.  Look for deep cover, ledges and drops to be holding fish most consistently.  This stretch of the river is entirely different than anything upstream from Dotsero but, if you can get past the 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 late fall through early spring 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, Bead Hares Ear, San Juan Worm patterns, 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: 200 cfs @ Granite & 100 @Hayden Meadows
Conditions: Starting to get fairly cold in the upper part of the river.  However, a water transfer out of Twin Lakes continues to keep an above average flow in the river from Balltown down through Granite and beyond.  What this means is that there should be a slight stability to water temperatures and icing of the river should hold off for a while longer.  Definitely focus your efforts on this stretch from Balltown to Granite. Nymphing will offer the best approach with 4 and 5x tippet in a two fly set-up.  Lead with a mid-sized to small beaded Stonefly or searching pattern and follow that up with a Midge pupa or larva.  Look for fish to be congregating in winter water that offers a little more shelter from the heavy currents, such as deeper runs, tail outs to pools and ledges.  Probably not the hottest destination for this time of year but, there is potential for some action.  If nothing else you shouldn’t see much in the way of competition.

 

Flies: Pat’s Rubber Legs, 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, Mirage Zebra, Red Neck Midge, Poison Tung, BH Biot Midge, Flossy Worm, Silver Bullet, Sparkle Minnow.


Arkansas River Salida Area

Flow: 437 cfs @ Salida
Conditions:  Above average stream flows for this time of year has helped to keep this a decent destination for early winter.  With the added water there are more sheltering lies for trout to hold in.  Look for fish out from the edges along the drops just off the current lines.  Runs with a little depth and pools that offer cover without a lot of energy consumption have been consistent.  Early in the day fish will be sluggish to start but, that should change late morning as they feed on Midge pupa and larva.  As the day goes on there may also be some interest in Baetis nymphs behind a mid-sized searching pattern such as BH Pheasant Tail, Duracell Jig or your go to fly for that category.  With clarity as good as it is, 5x is ideal but, the extra flow in the river might allow for 4x to your top fly.  This is a great destination right now as there is far less traffic than on some of the other open water spots at the moment.  Not to mention the weather is generally noticeable warmer down this way.

 

Flies: Beadhead Pheasant Tail, Beadhead Prince, Beadhead Hare’s Ear, Red or Chartreuse Copper John, Hot Wire Prince, Iron Sallie, Psycho Prince, Hammerhead, Duracell Jig, Barr’s Emerger, Juju Baetis, Tungsten Psycho May BWO, Yeager’s Soft Hackle, Extended Body Para BWO, Zebra Midge, Poison Tung, Rainbow Warrior, BH Biot Midge, Brassie, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Mirage Midge, Red Neck Midge, Biot Pupa Midge


Roaring Fork River at Glenwood Springs

Flow: 535 cfs
Conditions:  A good option at this time of year as warm weather and solid flows are keeping insect activity high enough to spur good action through the middle part of the day.  The lower reaches of the river offer the better weather and water temps and the consistency of feeding is following that trend but, there remain decent moments in the Carbondale to Basalt stretch as well.  Deep nymph rigs have been the best approach with 4 and 5x tippet.  Start with a BH searching pattern, Stonefly imitation or Egg on top, dropping down to a Baetis or Midge imitation, using a good amount of weight.  Even though the flow is low, most of the fish will be holding in deeper buckets and runs that require some weight to get down quickly.  The only drawback to that is the little bit of moss that continues to hang on in the river will require some maintenance to keep off your flies.  There is still enough water in the river to allow for floating.  Although, there may be more than a little bumping and grinding so, drift boats can make it down but, not without some impacts.  Also of note, the lower river had not gotten much float traffic for the last 2 and a half months due to the bridge closure that had serious impacts on traffic in the valley.  The new bridge is finally open, once again offering easy access to Glenwood.  Those fish in that stretch seemed to be a little less sensitive than a normal year as a result to the interruption in floaters.  Check that out before they readjust to more typical attention.

 

Flies: Midge Emergers, UV Emerger, Tungteaser, Beaded Pheasant Tail, Pat’s Rubber Legs #8-10, Psycho Prince,CDC Prince, Hot Wire Prince, Standard Pheasant Tail, Tung Psycho May, Split Case BWO, RS2, Frenchie, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Duracell Jig, Root Beer Float, Foam Wing RS2, Yeager’s Soft Hackle,


South Platte River, Middle Fork

Flow: 40 +/- cfs
Conditions:  Flows are down to winter lows, as are the temps.  Not that catching a fish is totally out of the question but, it’s a less than decent option.  If you’re in the neighborhood, than give it a try but, we wouldn’t go out of your way to hit it.

 

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: 85 cfs
Conditions:  The fall spawn is wrapping up so, maybe we can get back to just the normal traffic on the Dream.  Flows have dropped over the past couple of days and are starting to reflect a more typical level for this time of year, even if the weather doesn’t.  We’re not sure if this is the bottom yet or not for flows but, there is still some available holding water at this level.  However, this will make fish even more sensitive to your presence than at summer flows.  Make sure to travel with a little greater caution when moving along and in the river.  Slow down and make sure your foot steps are light, so as to not alert fish to your presence.  Minimize wading and keep a lower profile.  Once at a spot where you intend to fish, don’t be in a hurry there either.  Slow, calm movements with your rod and cast, limit your extraneous movements.  Light tippets of 6x will offer the best presentation.  Midges and Baetis nymphs will be the bulk of the diet for the next several months.

 

Flies: Loop Wing Emerger, Pure Midge Larva Black or Pale Olive, Black, Red, Chartreuse Copper John, Juju Baetis, Caddis Larva, 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: 50 cfs
Conditions:  Dam releases are down to winter levels and may drip further.  As it gets down to sub 75 levels, the action really tightens up on this popular tailwater, which gets more than it’s fair share of traffic.  As such, drop your tippets to 6x, even 7 if you are comfortable with that light of line.  Midge pupa, larva and emergers along with Baetis patterns will be most productive.  These can be fished together or behind a small searching pattern, such as a size 20 Flashback Pheasant Tail, or Caddis larva. Look for fish to be “holed up” in the few deeper spots that are available at this low flow.  Once the temperatures correct to more seasonal levels, add an extra layer because it gets cold in this valley.

 

Flies: Split Case BWO, Poxy-Biot Nymph, Buckskin, Flossy Worm, Little Brown Bug, Two Bit Hooker, Flash Back Pheasant Tail, 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: 117 @ Wolcott 1678 cfs @ Gypsum
Conditions:  Action on the Eagle continues to be fairly strong for this time of year.  The lower elevation certainly benefits more from the mild temperatures once you get below Wolcott.  Although, there have been a few days the past couple of weeks where overnight lows dropped into the teens and there was ice flow in the early part of the day.  That generally clears by 10 or 11 am at the latest so, be patient and have that extra cup of coffee in the morning before rushing out to the river.  Results have been best with a two nymph set-up, rigged with 5 and 6x tippet.  Lead with an Egg or mid-sized searching nymph and follow that up with a Midge or Baetis pattern.  Look for runs that have a bit of a current formed by a drop at the head of the pool.

 

Flies: Duracell Jig, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Psycho Prince, Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Thompson’s Forky Baetis, Lil Spanker, Big Spanker, Root Beer Float, Tung Psycho May, Poison Tung, BH Biot Midge, Rainbow Warrior, Red Neck Midge, Darth Baetis, Spaghetti and Meatballs.


Spinney Mountain Reservoir

Conditions: Ice. Closed for the season.

Flies: Cheetos


Delaney Buttes Lakes

Conditions: Icing up, probably not completely safe just yet.

Flies: Marabou Jigs