The Colorado Angler Fishing Report – March 30, 2018

March 31st, 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: March 30, 2018

 

Sunny skies have returned today after yesterday’s snow and clouds.  This looks to be a short respite from what has been a snowier trend over the past couple of weeks, as snow is again in the forecast for the weekend.  It doesn’t look like it will add up to much in regards to snowfall amounts but, it will be cooler so dress appropriately for a day on the water this weekend.

Spring has definitely arrived across the high country, with overall warmer temperatures and an increase in fishing options.  That’s not to say that the weather is not without it’s challenges, as what can be mild and sunny one minute, can be snow and blowing 20 mph the next.  However, if you pay attention to the forecast and are prepared for the elements, you should be rewarded with some pretty agreeable fish. The forecast this week shows a series of quick passing storms followed by a day or two of nice weather in between which

Most streams continue to run low and fairly clear and ice is quickly becoming a thing of the past.  What is even more encouraging is the increase in insect activity.  We continue to see plenty of Midges just about everywhere there is open water.  Those hatches are being bolstered by the start of early spring Baetis along the Roaring Fork, Lower Colorado and Eagle Rivers.

Keep in mind that although this time of year can be fantastic to get out on the water and take advantage of winter weary fish looking to load up on calories, it is also know to be unstable with regards to weather and/or water quality.  As we get these quick hitting storms that drop new snow one day, that new snow can melt off and add a little color to the stream the next day.  Be prepared to work around that sort of thing by either moving upstream or to another location altogether.  Fortunately, these are generally speaking, short-lived events that pass in a day or two.

 

General Tips for Spring Fishing:

Be prepared for instability in both the weather and water conditions any day you hit the river.  Pack an extra layer, or ideally two, for any trip but especially for floating.  Nothing sucks worse than launching under sunny skies with no wind in a sun hoodie, only to get 3 miles into a 10 float and have a wet and windy spring snowstorm blow up on you.  As well, bring a shell along too.  Not just for any precipitation but, that spring wind can be brutal.  Hat, gloves and a buff can really ease the pain in those situations.

River conditions can change often, from day-to-day or hour-to-hour.  Be flexible in your plan on the water.  While it may have been dry flies one day, the next day might be a little cooler and water temperatures might not rise enough to ignite the same hatch.  Same goes for clarity.  Any new snow this time of year has a tendency to melt off quickly along the river, as it is lower in elevation than where the remaining snow-pack up higher may insulate that new snow and keep it from melting until a later date.  This can lead not only to changes in clarity, but also temperature as melting snow is colder than what may have been already in the river.  Most of the time if you can find where the run-off is coming in, moving just above it can improve conditions.

There still isn’t a real urgency to get out on the water at the crack of dawn just yet, as cold overnight air temps produce the same effect on water temps and they take a little bit of daylight to rebound.  Generally speaking, we are seeing things start to get active late morning, with the early to mid-afternoon providing the peak action.  Early in the day expect to find fish sheltering toward the tail-outs of runs, along eddy lines and in deeper sheltered lies where they don’t have to expend as much energy as in feeding lanes.  As the day moves into late morning and water temps rise, spurring insect activity. look for fish to move up in the run towards the bottom of riffles and suspend slightly higher in the column in an attempt to feed on drifting nymphs.  With the possibility of finding rising fish towards mid-afternoon if conditions allow.

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: 129 cfs
Conditions: Stream flows once again have climbed over 100 to be slightly above typical seasonal levels, which is good news as more water can mean more food in the river.  In particular, these flows will help to create a better scenario for Mysis to enter the river.  Fishing for the past couple of weeks has been particularly temperamental, as the additional spring break traffic has coincided with what had been a drop in flow.  Some days have been moderately productive, followed by days a limited action.  The hope is for this to improve with the uptick in water creating a little more comfort for the fish and a little more food in the river.  There continues to be a steady amount of angling pressure on the river, which will affect the bite at times.  As well, the sunny days can add to that, as the high sun will intensify the movements of wading anglers in and along the river and spook fish.  If you do fish it on a sunny day, pay extra attention to your approach to the river and try to limit your impact.  Cloudy days generally have been a little more productive, as the subtle light will help keep fish at ease and more likely to stay put, which will lead them to at least see your drift.  Nymphing has produced the most consistent results, with success on 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.  Although flows are slightly above typical seasonal levels, we would still recommend using the lightest tippet size that you feel comfortable fishing with, 6x would be a good start.  Make sure to pay attention to how much weight you are fishing, as well.  There are still plenty of runs that benefit from using heavier weight that you would think.  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.  Experiment with your weight throughout the day and make sure that you are getting down to the depth you need quickly, that is the key to more fish seeing your offerings.  If you aren’t bumping the bottom on occasion, chances are you need more weight.  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, 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: 350 +/- cfs
Conditions: Flows moved up a bit this week and that should be good news for anglers.  Early spring has been feeling the effect of the low winter flow and bright sunshine, with action on days of nice weather being noticeably slower.  Like wise, the cloudy days have been more productive, as the low and clear flows tend to magnify your shadows and movements on sunny days..  Now that the river is up over 300 we anticipate the fishing to improve to a more consistent pattern.  Look for fish to spread out slightly and be a bit more at ease with the extra water offering them a little more cover than what was there over the winter.  Focus on the deeper cover, eddy lines and water along ledges just off the main current early in the day.  As the day warms and insect activity picks up, look for fish to move closer to feeding lanes from the middle to upper ends of runs and pools as well as just below riffles where drifting nymphs will be easy forage.  Results will be best on tandem nymph rigs, with a wide assortment of patterns.  For the lead fly Stonefly, beaded searching patterns and egg patterns should get their attention.  Then follow that up with a mix of Baetis and Midge imitations.  As well, those overcast days have produced a little interest in surface feeding to emerging midges along with some minor streamer activity.  With the increase in water from the dam, don’t underestimate the amount of weight needed to get your flies down to fish holding on the bottom of deep runs 

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, 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: 200 +/- cfs
Conditions: Flows made a slight jump in volume early this week due to an increase in precipitation and some moderate amount of snow melt but, are now falling back down to be a little lower than they started.  Nothing major, we don’t expect the real run-off to be an issue for another month or so.  Action continues to be solid here, actually even getting better if you take into account the expansion of fish-able water now that the ice has receded, thus providing more room for anglers to spread out.  The majority of the action has been 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.  There is also a decent shot at finding rising fish at times, feeding mostly on adult midges but, we expect to see Blue Winged Olives in the coming weeks.  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 early season 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.

 

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, Darth Baetis, Red Neck Midge, BH Biot Midge, 5-0 Midge, WD40, Pure Midge Larva, Chocolate Thunder


Colorado River Pumphouse to Dotsero

Flow: 640 +/- cfs. @ Pumphouse
Conditions:  Flows and clarity are experiencing a slight amount of volatility over the past week or two.  This will be due to the fluctuation in precipitation and temperatures that is typical for this time of year.  Keep in mind that this in not the big push of spring run-off, rather it is just short lived events of instability moving through and shouldn’t limit the fishing too much.  Overall action is on the rise, as water temps climb and both trout and insect activity increase.  Results have been best on tandem nymph rigs with a mix of imitations for Baetis, Midges, Stoneflies, Eggs and beaded searching patterns.  With the clarity being a little stained, 3 and 4x tippet will be more than thin enough to work in all water types.  Make sure to pay attention to the amount of weight and depth of indicator as you change locations in the river.  Early in the day fish will be sheltered in slower, deep currents conserving energy until food becomes available.  Once water temps start to rise in the late morning, look for fish to move up to positions in the middle to the top of runs where they can feed on drifting nymphs.  Although the temperatures are trending upward, it is still late winter and we continue to see the best action in water that has the greater exposure to sunshine.  As such, the canyon water continues to be less productive than the wider, valley areas.
 

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: 1360 cfs
Conditions: Conditions on the lower river continue to improve with regards to water temps, while they are a little less stable with regards to water clarity.  So, while this will produce a greater diversity of insect activity, it will at times limit the ability of trout to see all of them juicy bugs.  The point being: have a back up plan if you are headed that way.  We have had some solid days here in the past month, with early midge hatches now turning to spring Baetis and just about ready to go full on Caddis.  However, being this low in a system that takes in a lot of tributary streams at this time of year, clarity can go bad fast, so be ready to move upstream if it blows out.  Nymphing has been the most consistent approach on indicator rigs with a mix of Stonefly, Baetis, Midge, Egg and Caddis imitations but, there are times to find rising fish in sporadic quiet water locations.  As well, streamer fishing has been improving now that water temps are on the rise and Sculpin are getting active.  Clarity isn’t getting any cleaner than would necessitate using anything finer than 3 and 4x.   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 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.

 

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: 105+/- cfs @ Granite & Ice is forming @Hayden Meadows
Conditions:  Still fairly cold along the upper part of the river, and the popular public water stretch through Hayden Meadows is still holding a good bit of ice. However, a slight release out of Twin Lakes continues to keep the river wide open from Balltown down through Granite.  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 and that is improving daily.  If nothing else you shouldn’t see much in the way of competition.

 

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


Arkansas River Salida Area

Flow: 200 +/- cfs @ Salida
Conditions:  Flows remain low and mostly clear as the recent spring moisture has been limited in the southern part of the state.  As such fish continue to hold off the banks and in a slightly deeper lies in the middle of the channel.  Runs with a little depth and pools that offer cover without a lot of energy consumption have been consistent, as well.  Early in the day fish will be a little slow to start but, that should change late morning as they feed on Midge pupa and larva.  As the day goes on their interest should switch to drifting Baetis nymphs behind a mid-sized searching pattern such as BH Pheasant Tail, Duracell Jig or your go to fly for that category.  We continue to have good success on Stonefly, Midge, Baetis and Beaded searching patterns all throughout the afternoon.  As well, when conditions allow the dry fly fishing has been solid on Blue winged Olives.  With clarity as good as it is, 5x is ideal but, you could get away with 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 noticeably warmer down this way. We continue to encounter very little competition enjoy steady action.  Probably the best freestone destination in the state at the moment and should continue until mid-May when run-off begins.

 

Flies: 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, 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, Tan Pat’s Rubber, Tungsten Yellow Sallie, Masked Marauder


Roaring Fork River at Glenwood Springs

Flow: 400 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 early in the day 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 Baetis hatch has really turned on from Glenwood up to the Basalt area so, look for bugs to emerge mid-day to mid-afternoon and bring fish to the surface.  This should continue most of the month on good portions of the river, with the spring Caddis soon to follow.

 

Flies: Midge Emergers, UV Emerger, Glassy Brassie, Beadhead Biot Midge, Poison Tung, 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: 30 +/- cfs
Conditions: Winter. Ice. Limited opportunity.

 

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: 77 cfs
Conditions:   Flows remain under a hundred, which is a typical early spring level, particularly in a year with sub standard snow pack.  As such, this is a flow that will fish a little better if you think about your approach the river.  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.  Midge pupa, larva and emergers will be the core of trout diets through the winter but, now that spring is approaching there will be some action on small Baetis imitations.  And we would be remiss not to point out that the spring also brings with it the onslaught of crowds that descend upon this small piece of water looking for a shot at a trophy fish running up from the lake. With that in mind, if you are looking for solitude, this ain’t the place.  The traffic has been down right heavy while the etiquette a little lax.  We are not big fans of targeting fish that are just trying to propagate their species so, if you find yourself drawn to this place, at this time, PLEASE, stay off the Redds and leave spawning fish to their mission.  After all, if they can’t reproduce, there won’t be any fish to target – big or small- in short order.

 

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 Worm variations, Crane Fly Larva, Buckskin, Bread Crust


Williams Fork River Below Dam

Flow: 35 cfs
Conditions: Dam releases are down to winter levels and may drop further.  As it gets down to these 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. Now that the temperatures have adjusted 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: 95 @ Wolcott 135+/- cfs @ Gypsum
Conditions: The river is wide open and fishing very well for early season.  Midges in the upper river are giving way to Baetis on the lower.  Flows remain low and mostly clear above Wolcott.  Below there has been day-to-day depending on the weather, along with your proximity to the white water park that is under construction in Eagle.  At times there is equipment in the river that will muck it up.  Keep an eye on it and be prepared to move up OR downstream.  Most of the time we think (correctly) to move up river and get above whatever is causing the dirty water.  However, there are times when we can move downstream and get in front of the dirty water moving down.  Sometimes finding clean enough water to fish for a couple of hours before that stuff moves down.  Results have been best with a two nymph set-up, rigged with 5 and 4x 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, along with deeper pockets and ledges.  There have been good periods of dry fly fishing when adult BWOs are on the water.  This may not be widespread but, keep your eyes peeled for fish sipping adults off the surface.  With the less than stellar conditions on the ski hill this season, there has been a noticeable amount of traffic along this river.  At times it has been busier than the summer.  That is due to the limited amount of open water at the moment but, the point is to be prepared to encounter other anglers if you are headed this way.

 

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, Foam Wing RS-2, 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: Ice is breaking up and offering limited shore fishing.

Flies: Buggers and such