Colorado Fishing Report
It looks as if we are in the midst of another spike to our already robust river flows. Temperatures over the past few days have risen into the 70s here at 9,000 feet and the forecast for the rest of the week looks like much of the same. In the big picture this is a good thing, frankly we still have a fair bit of snow around here, but for the time being, anglers definitely want to pay close attention to any river that they are considering for a day on the water with regards to stream flows.
When checking into stream flows for any particular river, take the time to review the previous days, even weeks to see what the graph reveals. Often times the current flow can be insufficient to determine the true current conditions on a particular river, but by looking at the recent history one can make a more educated guess. A flow on a particular river may be high, but how did it get there and how long has it been that way. If it was a dramatic rise, quickly shooting up by double or triple its prior flow, virtually overnight, then that would make the chances of success greatly diminished. Generally when this happens, clarity drops significantly, as well as the potential for the water temperature to do the same. Both of these changes can alter angler success. However, if the graph for a particular river reveals a sustained higher flow, there is an indication of greater possibilities for those anglers willing to venture out onto the water.
From a graph that shows a higher, yet stable flow, it is possible to deduce two positive situations. First, the clarity should be an improvement over what was available at the time the water was on the rise. Generally speaking as water rises it clouds up as the river picks up sediment and debris outside of the normal river channel. Once the river stabilizes, the clarity will slowly start to improve, if there are no other environmental influences contributing color to the river, to a point where it is possible for your dead drifted offerings to be seen by hungry trout. The second condition that should develop with a stable high water flow is the re-establishment of a comfort zone for the fish. As the water is on the rise, it will tend to move the trout from their respective lies in the river as heavy flows may over take a previously softer spot in or adjacent to the current. This can tend to “shock” the fish and displace them from their normal routines, including feeding to some extent. Once the river settles in to a higher flow, the fish will also settle in to a new lie as well and regain a certain amount of comfort and resume somewhat normal behavior.
Another great feature to pay close attention to when navigating through the stream flow graphs is the temperature gauge. Not all stations will have a temperature reading, but for the stations that do, this is an invaluable tool throughout the year. Water temp is often the most over looked component of river conditions among anglers. All insect hatches are temperature sensitive, when the water temp hits a particular level, certain insects hatch. This temp will vary from insect to insect, but they are all dependent on it. By monitoring these values on a regular basis, an angler can make a fairly educated guess on when a hatch will start to emerge and then head on out to the river. In the olden days (as my seven year would say) anglers actually had to venture out to the river to measure these values. Now we are able to do this from the comfort of our own home or office or anywhere where we get a signal on our smart phones. Ah, the beauty of modern technology.
For current stream flows, and their corresponding graphs, check out The Colorado Division of Water Resources website at: http://www.dwr.state.co.us/SurfaceWater/Default.aspx
It is officially summer here in the mountains; however the weather can still be somewhat inconsistent. We actually had snow here in Silverthorne on Monday. Due to these dramatic swings in weather, we don’t see much stability in fishing conditions (or fishing reports for that matter). It is important to monitor the flows on a daily basis, and use that as your best indicator on where the best spot to try may be. Even the tailwaters at this time of year can fluctuate wildly, the freestones will be even more chaotic in their changes. 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. Toll Free 877-CO TROUT (268-7688) or stop by and see us in the Summit Place shopping center in Silverthonre, next to Blue Moon Bakery, Exit 205 on I-70, then south 1 block.
Normal Business Hours: Monday – Sunday 8am – 6pm
Coming Soon: Summer Hours: 7am-7pm
|Blue River Below Dillon Reservoir
|Flow: 1100 cfs.
|Conditions: Flows have ramped back up as the heat has intensified, but the good news is that it looks as if we could be seeing our peak melt and runoff for the year. Inflow into the reservoir is over 2500 cfs, but the peak volume of all tributary streams is lower than yesterday’s peak. While there is still a lot of snow here is the upper basin, this weather has made a dent in the pack and we look to be on the downward side of spring flows. Nymphing continues to provide the most consistent action and for the seasoned angler, the rewards have been good. The key will be locating the quieter holding water and using plenty of weight. When you think you have enough weight on, add more. These types of conditions are most rewarding for the single angler or for multiple anglers that are patient enough to take turns in the same spot. Stomach pumps of landed fish really are showing the focus by the fish on the Mysis Shrimp. You can try a midge here and there, but we wouldn’t make it the focal point of your rig. Flies: Charlie’s Mysis, BTS Mysis, Stalcup’s Mysis, Medallion midge 20-24, UV Emerger black 20-24, Kingery’s Capt’n Hook 20, Garcia’s Rojo Midge Red or Black 20.
|Blue River Below Green Mountain
|Flow: 1490 cfs.
|Conditions: This week saw an additional bump in releases from the dam. As temperatures have been consistent at warmer highs, snow melt has increased and additional room is being made for this added volume. Nevertheless, the reservoir is coming up by about a foot per day. This higher flow will make for rather limited wading options below the dam, not that you can’t do it; it will just be a situation of reduced opportunities. If you do wade it, nymphing is still you best option and those committed fly-rodders on this stretch are having success. Make sure to use enough weight and a good deep set up. Float fishing at this level is fair to medium. That is a lot of water running down-valley and in many drifts there isn’t enough time to get your flies down to the fish before the boat passes through a particular hole. Make sure to increase the amount of weight on your nymph rig, just like dropping depth charges. Another option right now would be to throw a streamer rig on a weighted line. It may seem out of place on most Colorado waters, but a 200 grain full sink tip would be an effective way to present your flies to some of those deeper fish. Please respect private property rights along the river. Flies: Larger size Bead Head Nymphs: #10-12 Hare’s ear, Prince, Tungteaser, Tungsten Rubber Leg Yellow Sally, Stubby Stone, San Juan Flash Worm and Red Hot Worm.
|Colorado River Above Kremmling
|Flow: 5722 cfs.
|Conditions: Very high, off color and out of the banks in most spots. The Middle Park valley is reminiscent of a Cambodian Rice Field at the moment. Definitely wait for this water to subside.
|Colorado River Pumphouse to Dotsero
|Flow: 9690 cfs.
|Conditions: Off color and high water. Flows have jumped again from a slight pullback last week. Yes this is big water and it is not clear, but the Salmon flies are hatching and 12 inches of visibility is more than enough for the trout to pick up your offering. We have been having some success getting fish mostly on Salmonflies, but when the clarity has given a little more vision there have been fish eating more modest sized offerings. Nymph fishing is still the way to go. Even though there are plenty of adults around, the fish are still focused on the easier meal subsurface. With the high water, the river is out of its banks and COVERING the willows, which leads to many snags. If you go, this is technical fishing, be prepared for tough access and hard to distinguish trout lies. If you are able to work with all of this, the fishing can be pretty good; we were able to fool quite a few fish last Saturday afternoon. If you do go, do not forget your bug spray. Mosquitoes are starting to show up for what looks to be a banner year for them as well, especially in the daytime. Flies: Big Stone fly patterns: Kaufman stones, Bitch Creek, Berry’s Super Stone Salmon, Tungsten 20 incher, Pat’s Rubber Legs.
|Colorado Below Glenwood Springs
|Flow 25900 cfs.
|Conditions: Big and dirty, good for a boat ride. Don’t miss the stop at Dairy Queen, river-right, just past the bridge in West Glenwood. Or for an entertaining side trip, check out the surfers on the stationary wave just above the West Glenwood bridge. The closest thing to Pipeline the mainland has seen.
|Arkansas River Above Buena Vista
|Flow: 1250-3530 cfs.
|Conditions: Flows are up dramatically the last couple of days and clarity is likewise down significantly. There was a brief window this week as a water user downstream reduced their demand from Twin Lakes, just about the same time a cool spell moved through. That was a too good to last and we would expect the next week or two to be the brunt of the melt. These are substantial river volumes and conditions are marginal in many areas, but if you are in the area, take a look. There may be an odd spot here and there that could produce a fishable drift; nymphing with searching patterns would be a safe approach right now, but make sure to add enough weight to compensate for the bigger flows. For all you streamer junkies out there, give this one a try in the upper reaches from Hayden Meadows down to the Lake Creek confluence. Flies: Bead Pheasant Tail, Hot Wire Prince, Iron Sally, Tung Teaser, Twenty Incher, Slump Buster Black, Bead Head Rubber Leg Brown Bugger, Le Marabou Leech.
|Arkansas River Below Buena Vista
|Flow: 3660 cfs.
|Conditions: On the rise and out of the angler comfort zone for this section of river. Not to mention clarity is all but gone. While we never say never, fishing here is going to be a tough slog for now. There may be an odd quiet water lie that could produce a fish or two, but I wouldn’t get too crazy. Flies: Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Tungstone Golden, Chartreuse Hot Wire Caddis, Streamer Patterns.
|Roaring Fork River at Glenwood Springs
|Flow: 6930 cfs.
|Conditions: Yes this is high, very, but we may have seen the peak over the weekend. If that is the case, then you want to keep an eye on this one. When this beauty hits the sweet spot in the flows, it will be the place to be. Keep checking with us and we will give you the low down.
|Platte South River, Middle Fork
|Flow: 361+/- cfs.
|Conditions: Finally seeing the flows in this stretch starting to look more seasonal, as in they are rising. There are still some possibilities, but they are a little less comfortable than have been the recent situation. Tomahawk or Badger Basin, it’s a push. Flies: Red Legged Hopper, Hare’s ear, Red or Copper flavored Copper John, Tungteaser, Buckskin caddis, STD Baetis, Tungsten Psycho
|South Platte, Dream Stream
|Flow: 423 cfs.
|Conditions The flow has been on a steady climb the last 5 days. If it finally stops here that would be good. This piece of water can fish very well at these higher levels. The caddis activity should start to pick up soon, so look to fish a larva or pupa offering as well. Downstream in Eleven Mile Canyon, Caddis and PMDs are starting to really produce results and may be worth a look as well. Flies: Buckskin Caddis, Barr’s Graphic Caddis, Mercer’s Poxyback PMD Emerger, Caddis Rockworm.
|Williams Fork River Below Dam
|Flow 1120 cfs.
|Conditions: Quite a jump in flows here from last week. This had been fishing decent for experienced anglers in the few slack water spots that presented themselves, but now with the jump in volume that may be less promising. If you do go, do not forget your bug spray. Mosquitoes are starting to show up for what looks to be a banner year for them as well. Flies: Pat’s Rubber Legs, San Juan Worms, Stubby Stones, Flash Back Pheasant Tails, Buckskin Caddis, Crane fly Larva, Baetis nymphs: Jujubaetis, Big Bear Baetis.
|Conditions: Holy Chironomid Batman! The annual large midge hatch is in full swing. Fishing this week was fantastic and should continue for some time as we have seen the arrival of the first Calibaetis as well. Nymphing under an indicator has produced the most consistent results, but there are some fish on the rise. Please exercise caution when venturing out onto this impoundment. It is not uncommon for winds to blow 20mph with gusts to 40mph this time of year. The Division of Wildlife will once again be doing inspections for invasive species at the boat ramp. Allow for a little extra time before launching any trailered boats. The South boat ramp is only open Friday-Monday, mid-week boaters will have to use the North ramp. Check out the method section under Delaney Buttes Lakes below for more tips to consistently get into fish. As for the Flies: Bead Head Hare’s Ear and Pheasant Tails 12-16, Copper John Chartreuse or Red 14-16,Tung Teaser 12-14, Jumbo Juju all colors 12-16, Yankee Buzzer 12-16, Zebra Midge 20.
|Spinney Mountain Reservoir
|Conditions: As with Antero, this Lake is probably fishing as well as it will all year. Action remains solid on Chironomid and Calibaetis patterns. Again, using static nymph rigs has been the most consistent, but don’t hesitate to mix it up with the occasional leech or crayfish patterns. Check out the method section under Delaney Buttes Lakes below for more tips to consistently get into fish. Flies: Jumbo Juju all colors 12-16, Hare’s Ear 12-16, Yankee Buzzer, Bead Head PT12-16, Chartreuse Copper John 12-16.
|Delaney Buttes Lakes
|Conditions: Not as good as the South Park impoundments, but this is a high-water option for still water here as anglers wait out the run-off season. Action on the East and South Lakes remains the most consistent, with the North Lake its usual finicky self. And not to sound like a broken record, but the insects here are the same as the South Park impoundments. Method: As with ALL of these lake options, try to mix it up in your selection until you hit on something that the fish appear to be keying on. A good method is to fish a nymph rig under an indicator with 2 or even 3 different patterns. Present the fish with something to imitate the Calibaetis nymphs, as well as a Chironomid and maybe even a Damsel nymph. Once the action picks up, you can determine if there is preference for a particular bug and then offer other imitations of that insect. Flies: Jumbo Juju 12-16, Yankee Buzzer 12-16, Mercer’s Poxyback Calibaetis, CDC Calibaetis nymph, Wilcox’s Rapunzel, Bead Head Aggravator Olive.