The Colorado Angler Fishing Report – July 25, 2018

July 26th, 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: July 25, 2018

 

With the arrival of the Monsoon here in Colorado, we are finally seeing a little relief scattered across the area.  But that is spotty at best as the daily clouds and rain have been scattered in nature and haven’t been as wet as the front range.  Keep an eye on water temps and obey the stream closures that have started to pop up this week.

There continues to be some areas of above average (and unhealthy) water temperatures around the area. The Colorado below Two Bridges, the Eagle below Edwards and the Roaring Fork in Glenwood late in the day, to name a few.  Please carry a thermometer with you while fishing this summer and keep tabs on the water temps over the course of the day.  Check it often, as temperatures can rise upwards of 10 degrees in a matter of hours under the wrong conditions.  We are starting to see some improvement on the Colorado and are optimistic that there will be additional relief if the Monsoon continues to work in conjunction with the water releases coming from upstream tailwaters.

You may have to think a little differently this year than a normal July with regards to where you go.  Search out those places that offer a lower water temperature and keep fish safe from the damage that can result when it gets too hot. First, go up.  As in, the upper sections of your favorite rivers.  Such as the Eagle above Edwards, even above Avon on really hot days, or the Arkansas above Salida, maybe even Buena Vista later in the day when air temps in the valley can hit 90.  At higher elevations there is a greater daily recovery of water temps as the swing from daytime highs to overnight lows, offering a safer water quality for trout to survive in.

Obviously there are always tailwaters that offer much cooler water temps as they bottom feed as cold as the low 40s and high 30s.  It does seem hard for many anglers to think about a tailwater in July, a time when typically we have endless freestone options to spread out on and stretch our fishing legs.  Tailwaters are for winter, when there aren’t any other options.  But this year, there should be no shame for heading to the safe temperatures of your favorite artificial aquarium of trout.  The less pressure freestone trout under warm water conditions get, the better.

And if you want the greatest chance at a little solitude while on the water, take a hike.  With the lower than average snow pack this year, it is a guarantee that every trail is free of snow and even lakes at the highest of elevations are devoid of ice.  Not to mention, with the unusually dry early summer, we have not been getting any afternoon showers just yet and that means you should have a lesser chance than normal of being chased off of a high mountain lake by an unwelcome thunderstorm.

High Water Temperature Advisory

When water temperatures rise, oxygen levels drop. If it gets too warm, it can be fatal. Generally speaking, that level is 70 degrees. However that is for trout at rest. Mix into the equation trout under any added stress, such as being hooked and played to exhaustion, and that level can drop a few degrees. Therefore, we are asking for anyone thinking about fishing the Colorado to consider this situation and closely monitor water temps while on the water. We would like to recommend that you consider forgoing fishing once that water rises above 65. Yes, we understand that is a bit under the threshold we mentioned but, it is important to remember that the water temps will continue to rise as the day goes on and fish that have been hooked and played will have a hard time recovering as those oxygen levels continue to drop while they are exhausted. Give em a break and protect the resource for the future. This shouldn’t be all summer but, could go for another couple of weeks until water calls come in for upstream reservoirs.

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

Blue River Below Dillon Reservoir

Flow: 109 cfs
Conditions: Flows have finally retreated to their typical level for non-run-off times of the year, to just over 100 cfs.  This is a mix of good news/not-so-good-news.  The not-so-good being that with less release from the dam, there will be fewer Mysis being drawn into the river.  However, the good is that with lower flows and warm air temps, water temps are rising enough to spark some limited hatches.  Most notably will be Caddis, PMDs and Yellow Sallies.  While we have been seen this a little further downstream, there has been a few bugs here through town.  You might find a fish or two to eat dries throughout the day but, we have seen the best opportunity for that to be later in the afternoon to evening. The more consistent fishing will continue to be the nymphing that most tailwater anglers are familiar with.  At these flows drop your tippet down to at least 5x, with 6x being the better option for action.  The usual tailwater Midge and Shrimp and San Juan Worm type stuff is still producing but, with the potential for summer hatches we are seeing results on Caddis pupa, PMD nymphs and even some small searching nymphs.  Traffic has picked up, in part because it’s the peak summer season but, also due to warm water conditions elsewhere.  So, be prepared to have to search around for a little space at busy times.

 

Town Flies: BTS Shrimp, Tim’s Mysis, Stalcup’s Mysis, Split Case PMD, Poxyback PMD, 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: 633cfs
Conditions: Another increase in the release from the dam has the lower river in great shape, particularly for boaters, as now there should be enough water for most boats to make it down river without hanging up.  Of course, this will depend on your individual skill at the oars.  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.  For wade anglers this flow will be a little too high to safely cross the river and fish the opposite bank.  While this will limit your range, there is some good action on what is available.  There is a strong Caddis hatch, augmented by decent amounts of Green Drakes, PMDs, Yellow Sallies and even a few Golden Stones.  Mid-day dry fly fishing has been solid for anglers that take their time to work the available water and hunt for fish.  Otherwise tandem nymph rigs continue to produce throughout the day with a mix for imitations for all of those hatches, paired with beaded searching nymphs.  Again, due to a combination of limited destinations because of warm water and heavy overall summer traffic, there have been days where the crowds have been ridiculous.

 

Flies: Dries: Elk Hair Caddis, Sparkle Bug, Stimulator, Para Drake, H & D Para Drake, Extended Body Green Drake. 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: 365 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 summer hatches of Caddis, Sallies, PMDS and the odd Red Quill.  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.  Don’t forget to bring along the bug spray, as there are always plenty of mosquitoes thanks to the irrigation in the upper valley.

 

Flies: Small Chubbies, Silhouette Dun, Melon Quill, Goldie Hawn, Sparkle Bug, Stimulator, Hippie Stomper, Para Purple, PMD Teaser, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Flossy Worm, CDC Pheasant Tail, Bead Prince, Psycho Prince, Breadcrust, Hammerhead Nymph, Lil Spanker, Tungsten Hackled, Iron Sally, Jackson’s Sally, Pheasant Tail #14-18, Redemption PMD, Split Case PMD, Tungsten Micro Mayfly Brown, Tungsten Juju Baetis, Aero Baetis, Root Beer Float


Colorado River Pumphouse to Dotsero

Flow: 1360 cfs. @ Pumphouse
Conditions: A huge improvement to the upper stretch of this section of water, in particular from Gore Canyon down to State Bridge, as water calls on the lower river have come in and flows are on the rise.  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.  We would recommend limiting your attention to that area, maybe down to 2 Bridges and continue to carry a thermometer with you to keep an eye on those temps, and wrap it up once it gets above 65 degrees. 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 Caddis, PMD, Terrestrial and attractor dry flies.  And as river closures are happening lower on this river, along with on the Eagle and Roaring Fork, expect the pressure here to climb as people look for a safe place to find a few fish.   

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:  Warm water is starting to have an impact here as well, now that flows on the Eagle, Roaring Fork and Upper Colorado are falling fast and water temps are rising.  If you are going to hit this stretch, please do it early and keep an eye on temperatures.  By noon it will probably be on the dangerous side of the thermometer.  Most of the action will be on a mix of nymphs for Golden Stone, Yellow Sallies PMDs, Caddis and Drakes.  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 early spring is a great time to get out and explore this overlooked location.  Low rating is due to reduced availability because of warm water.

 

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: 325 @ Granite
Conditions: The benefits of altitude are on display in the upper Arkansas valley. as water temps continue to run at ideal levels.  Not only for the health of trout but, for spurring a wide range of insect hatches that are driving some excellent action on the upper river.  Caddis, PMDs and Yellow Sallies to name a few.  Stream levels are ideal for wade fishing, allowing both for great access, while still offering good bank-to-bank coverage that provides plenty of trout habitat to spread fish out in to all types of water.  Angler pressure has been fairly high due to the strong fishing and excellent conditions.  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.  Dry droppers to start the day and be prepared to switch to straight dries if you see any interest in emerging bugs.

 
Flies: Para X, Elk Hair Caddis, Stimulator, Foamulator, Small Chubbies, Para Extended PMD, Goldie Hawn, Foam Sally, Killer Green Bug, CDC Para Drake, 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: 430 cfs @ Salida
Conditions: Flows have settled in at late summer levels and are providing for good wading options while still offering a good level for float anglers.  The big summer hatches of PMDs, Sallies and Caddis are moving upstream, leaving behind and early arrival of Tricos and some Golden Stones.  But, with the dry and warm early season, the hopper population is exploding and you should be working those imitations into your attack.  Dry dropper rigs with beaded searching patterns and small stones have been very productive.  As have small hopper and attractor patterns fish in pockets and edge water that offers a current and cover.  Water temps in the valley are starting to climb due to the hot and dry conditions and you need to carry a thermometer with you and check that throughout the day.  As it heats up, move upstream towards Stone Bridge and Hecla Junction to find some good late day action.

 

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 at late summer levels and temperatures on the rise, particularly in the lower valley.  Keep your thermometer close and check often.  With not-so-voluntary-voluntary closures in the afternoon, you should try and avoid the lower river altogether.  Action has been better from Westbank up anyway.  The further upstream you go, the better.  However, with the fires burning in the Basalt area, things in the upper valley are getting a little hectic.  If you are going to go upriver, we would like to suggest head all the way up and check out the fantastic wade access in the Aspen area.  As well, the big hatches of summer are moving that way anyway, and you can still find some great dry action on PMDs, Caddis, Sallies and Drakes.

 

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: 50 cfs
Conditions: Flows are at late summer levels, offering great, easy wade fishing and productive dry dropper fishing.  Hoppers and attractors trailing beaded searching nymphs, Caddis and small stone imitations.  Traffic has been very busy as the guide traffic is always busy at this novice friendly spot.  If you are able to cover some water and keep on the move though, you should be able to work your way around that situation.  As with everywhere else at the moment, keep an eye on those water temps.

 

Flies: Mini Foamulator, Stimulator, Elk Hair Caddis, 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: 215 cfs
Conditions: Flows are up over 200, which is a good summer level, particularly in a year with sub standard snow pack.  However, with Spinney being a shallow lake, temperatures are a bit on the warm side. Keep an eye on the water temps and look for Tricos, Caddis and Crane Flies to be active.

 

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, Epoxy Back PMD, Small Pheasant Tail and Flash Back Pheasant Tails


Williams Fork River Below Dam

Flow: 175 cfs
Conditions: Finally, a big bump up in flows should offer a marked improvement in action on this productive 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, bump up your tippet to 4 to 5x to handle the added force of this much water in a small channel.  Don’t worry, the additional volume will mask the thicker size.  And as the flow goes up so too should your weight on the nymphs.  A single BB may not even be enough in some runs.  If you get there soon, you may get to experience the rare occurrence of solid summer fishing on the Williams Fork without the companionship of mosquitoes.

 

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 late summer levels.  Floating is done and water temps are on the rise in the lower valley.  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 PMDs, Caddis, Sallies and Goldens in the upper stretches of the valley.  Focus on the oxygenated water, limit your handling of fish and don’t prolong the fight just for a photo.

 

Flies: Goldie Hawn, Silhouette Dun Sulpher, Elk Hair Caddis, Caddis Variant Ginger, Stimulator, Hippy Stomper, Cubby Chernobyl, 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, Spaghetti and Meatballs.


Spinney Mountain Reservoir

Conditions: Ice is out and fishing is in. So are the crowds. That should taper off a little now that opening weekend has come and gone but, expect weekends to still be popular through spring. Cruising fish along the banks have led to success for both foot and float based anglers. A wide range of techniques are catching fish including: static nymph rigs, hand retrieved nymph rigs and a variety of streamers fished in varying retrieves.

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.