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Report for the Roaring Fork Valley--Updated 4/12/17.

"Fifth-Season" conditions are here and April caddis hatches are now being seen

 

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ROARING FORK RIVER (Updated 4/12/17):  LOWER RIVER: (Carbondale to Glenwood Springs):  7 out of 10 rating:   752 cfs in Glenwood Springs with good but variable clarity. With the warmer weather of spring beginning to take hold, the fishing has actually been on the upswing now as blue wing olives, midges and caddis dominate the scene.  The name of the game right now is generally nymph fishing with hatches of BWOs and midges punctuated throughout the middle of the day.  The streamer fishing has been fairly steady, with obviously overcast/gray days providing the best opportunities.  This is still a great time of year for both wade and float fishing.  Nymphing has been best using small generic attractors (Princes, PTs, CJs, Eggs), as well as more specific match-the-hatch flies such as stoneflies nymphs and caddis larva, with BWO and midge dropper patterns.  At times, it can even be well worth ditching the nymph or streamer stick in lieu of some Dry Shake and a little midge, BWO or caddis adult dry fly.  Crowds are still thin, just as the fish are fattening up - take advantage.

MIDDLE RIVER: (Basalt to Carbondale)  7 out of 10 rating:  393 cfs at Emma with ideal clarity. Nymphing has been very consistent daily.  Stoneflies, small baetis and caddis larva patterns are all great lead/point/attractor flies, with small midge and baetis emergers as dropper flies.  The streamer fishing has certainly picked up and if timed right, can still be viable weapons in your fly arsenal.  Animate your streamers using your rod tip, taking in the slack line after each pull of your fly.  Better colors have seemed to be black, white and yellow.  Midday hatches have generally been fairly light (excluding dank periods of overcast) but are consisting of predominately BWOs and midges. This section finally has enough water to make it floatable (in a raft) again.  That said, the easiest (and currently best) floating is taking place on the lower river. 

UPPER RIVER: (Basalt to Aspen)  7 out of 10 rating:   148 CFS at Maroon Creek with perfect clarity.  Perfect clarity can be detrimental sometimes at this low level because fish can be very spooky, especially if it's bright and sunny and you are making your presence known.  Being stealthy pays off in spades with low, winter water levels.  The vast majority of fish are now in the deeper pools, seams and runs.  Continue to pay close attention to actively spawning fish (rainbows) and stay out of the river as much as possible.  Nymphing tiny and shiney flies is a pretty good rule of thumb up here.  Covering water up here is also an absolute necessity to stay on fish whether you're chucking big pieces of meat around or little nymphs.  Don't be too surprised to find more numbers of rising fish on this section of the Roaring Fork compared to others - the water is low which helps keep the fish looking up for food during late afternoons and early evenings.  Expect mostly midges in the way of hatches. 

ONE MONTH FISHING FORECAST: Winter is seemingly losing its grip and as Kirk Webb likes to say, Fifth-Season, is right around the corner.  The days are lengthening, elk are on the valley floor and the Canada Geese are beginning to pair up. With this in mind, there's no need to be out on the water first thing in the early morning hours.  Let the sun beat on the water for a bit, get those water temps up slightly, and then hit the water.  The prime time of day for fishing is from 10:30am-4pm.  Keep a close eye on the weather this month - ideally you want to look for temps to stay in the mid-20s overnight, which provide insulated warmth for the following day.  When conditions like this take place, fishing can often be good seemingly all day long.  During bitter-cold days, the best fishing takes place between Carbondale and Basalt, where the warmer water from the Frying Pan River (a bottom release tailwater) empties into the Roaring Fork.  It is also during these bitter-cold winter days where you should be following the sunlight around to help you stay warm.  Fishing with a fixed amount of line aids in keeping ice build-up to a minimum in your rods' guides.  Loon Outdoors Ice-Off Paste also prolongs ice build-up on your guides, rod and line.  WE LOVE WINTER FISHING!  The beauty, tranquility, solitude and surprisingly GOOD fishing are why we live your vacation.  Join one of our experienced guides so we can show you the splendors and secrets of winter fishing.
 
HOT FLY PATTERNS: MIDGES--- DRIES-Griffiths Gnat, Hatching Midge, CFS Adult Midge EMERGERS-Tidbits, CDC RS2s, Sparklewing RS2s, Biot Midge Pupa, Medallion Midge Pupa NYMPHS- Zebras, T-Midge, Glass Bead Midge BWOS--- DRIES-Roy's Special Emerger, CDC Indicator Parachute BWO, No Hackle BWO EMERGERS-RS2's, Rocky Mtn BWO Emerger NYMPHS-BTS Baetis, Black PTs, Micro Mayfly Brown STONEFLIES---Pat's Rubberlegs, 20 Inchers, 20 Inch Bomb, Soft Shell Golden, Black PTs, BH Zug Bug CADDIS---NYMPHS- Electric Caddis, Buckskin ATTRACTORS---Prince, Rainbow Warrior, Eggs  STREAMERS--- Skully Bugger, Sex Dungeon, Sculpzilla, Poxyhead Sculpin, Beldar Bugger, Baby Gonga, Coffey's Sparkle Minnow.
 

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FRYING PAN RIVER-- (Updated 4/3/17): 7 out of 10:  148 cfs today with perfect clarity.  Look for predominately midges and a random BWO or two in the way of hatches.  Flows should stay at this level for quite some period of time now as we settle into the winter flow regime.  The brown trout are in full-on spawn mode along the extreme upper river and therefore caution should be exercised to avoid wading through any beds/redds.  Fishing in the Flats below the dam should be avoided due to the high amount of spawning fish.  All of the browns are post-spawn on the middle and lower river now.  When nymphing, focus on small (#18-24) and dark baetis patterns with midge or baetis emergers as droppers.  It can often be best to get your flies near the bottom but not on the bottom on this river.  Midday hatches are increasing and patient dry fly junkies are finding risers to cast to.  Just be sure to be fishing light fluorocarbon tippets (we like Trouthunter 6.5x or 7x ) with downstream drifts to picky rising fish.  Want to throw something bigger?  The streamer fishing is still pretty solid - as long as it's not too cold, otherwise you'll have too much ice building up in your guides.  Small, heavy and natural imitations are best.  Poke your head in the shop and we'll dial you in on the best flavors.  Crowds are at an absolute minimum currently, with only the upper half-mile of river being "busy".  The middle and lower river have been vitually devoid of anglers recently.  Kirk's been having some good dry fly fishing up here during the afternoons - GO FISH!

ONE MONTH FISHING FORECAST:  Off-season fishing at its best! Crowds are still low this month on the Fryingpan despite its good year-round fishing and warmer water temperatures.  The Pan is truly one of the best winter trout fisheries around. Despite the 6 out of 10 ranking, a 6 on the Pan is like an 8 or 9 anywhere else in the country...we're just honest, that's all.  Look for the midge hatch to remain steady and to increase in numbers as we roll in Fifth-Season.  BWO's will make an appearance by the end of the month along the upper river, giving us a glimpse of things to come.  Dress in layers, carry multiple pairs of gloves, maybe some hot soup or coffee in a thermos and you'll be well prepared and warm.

HOT FLY PATTERNS: MIDGES---DRIES-Hatching Midge, Hi-Vis Griffiths Gnat, CFS Adult Midge EMERGERS-CDC RS2s, Sparklewing RS2s, Tidbit, Medallion Midge, Biot Midge Pupa NYMPHS-Disco Midge, Glass Bead Midge, Black Beauty, Mercury Blood Midge, TMidge, Zebras BWOs---DRIES-Roy's Special Emerger, CDC Indicator Para BWO, No Hackle BWO EMERGERS-Rocky Mtn Emerger BWO, RS2s, Biot Emergers NYMPHS-Black PTs, BTS Baetis MYSIS-Solitude Mysis, BTS Mysis ATTRACTORS-Eggs, Rainbow Warrior, Red Copper John


 

 

 

 


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COLORADO RIVER FROM GLENWOOD SPRINGS TO RIFLE (Updated 4/3/17)-- 7 out of 10 rating:  2190 cfs at Glenwood Springs with great clarity. Due to the lower elevation of this river, hatches begin on this river before all others in the area. Though Fifth-Season hasn't officially begun yet, it's nearing very close. The midge hatch is beginning to slowly blossom and sporadic risers can be found in predictable locations.  Like the Henry's Fork, a big, nasty rainbow taken on a dry fly here should be widely applauded.  Forget the Frying Pan and it's mild-mannered fish, the Lower Colorado River is the ultimate graduate school for dry fly junkies.  Nymph fishing is pretty solid with a variety of Midges, Baetis, Caddis, Stoneflies and attractors all catching fish.  Stoneflies and Caddis larva particularly fish well here, as do small (#18-20) gray/olive BWO nymphs/emergers and little (#18-22) red/black midge patterns.  Kirk has been reporting overall slow streamer fishing though he says that it can sometimes be effective midday as water temps warm slightly.  Vary your retrieve tempo till the fish respond. Big fish can be found in the riffles and pockets of the Colorado River this time of year--get out in a boat and explore it with us! 


1 MONTH FISHING FORECAST: Get in on it now!  This often fickle river is fairly steady and pretty solid currently.  As long as the nice weather prevails, we'll be floating her all too often - come join one of our friendly and knowledgable guides.
 
BAR ZX RANCH (AKA LAMPTON LAKES) near Paonia Reservoir.  (0 out of 10 rating): CLOSED FOR THE WINTER Bar ZX does have some algae blooms on the lower altitude ponds, but the property as a whole hasn't received a lot of pressure over the past month.  This unique high altitude property has an abundance of fish lurking in it's many lakes and ponds that weigh 15 to 20 pounds, as well as thousands of average sized trout.  Bar ZX is in a beautiful setting at the base of the Ragged Mountains near Paonia Reservoir, and we are the closest fly shop to it at about one hour away.  Bar ZX offers a quality experience to experienced anglers as well as novices eager to learn the sport in a controlled private setting, and we highly recommend every fly fisherman passing through our area to fish it at least once.  Rod fees are $125 per person and a guide is required.  Call us to make a reservation.

 

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CRYSTAL RIVER  (Updated 4/3/17):  5 out of 10 rating below Redstone, unfishable up high;  249 cfs just above Carbondale with very good clarity. The river is pretty low now that it's winter and you often need to go into stealth mode, but the rewards for the adventureous can be truly special!  Tired of the crowds on the Pan?  The Crystal is a great place to get away from it all and enjoy a natural freestone river.  Sometimes fishermen remark that the pocket water sections of the Crystal can be tough to get around and fish---but fish often hold in these overlooked areas.  The obvious deep and slows pools hold fish and you should know within a few minutes if the fish are active or not - cover water to be successful on the Crystal.  If you camp out in some of the obvious pools for long periods of time, you proably won't catch as many fish as moving through the rocks, boulders, and pockets.
 
Midges are hatching in heavier numbers weekly and a few local nuts are enjoying dry fly success amongst the winter splendor and solitude.  Look for the Crystal to see hatches of BWOs in coming weeks (March).  Poke your head in the shop and ask us what dries have been best.
 
It is important to cover water on the Crystal.  The fish tend to be some of the most opportunistic in our valley, so if you are fishing a great looking hole and not catching fish (especially if that hole is at a very obvious pullout along the road), you should move on.  It is usually not necessary to work fish over with multiple patterns from your fly box like it can be on the Frying Pan.  Fishermen who cover water and hit the pockets, riffles, and runs above and below the most obvious and popular holes along the road will usually be rewarded with many more fish the the casual or lazy fisherman who doesn't move much--just as on any river.
 
 
 
CRYSTAL RIVER PRESERVE AT THE REDSTONE INN:  Updated 4/3: 3 out of 10 ratingThis is a fabulous private property on the Crystal River with a lot of river frontage --almost one mile--and a lot of fish.  This stretch of river is easy to access and easy to fish and has been fishing very well lately with some large fish being caught.  This property is home to a few very large fish in the 24-26 inch class, that will take you for a wild ride if you're skillful enough to hook into them.  Our guides and clients have had many memorable days here and the Redstone Inn is a great place to round out your day of fishing with the perfect lunch.  There is a stocked pond on the property that is a great warmup or great place to hone in your casting skills too.  Half and full days are available here, and it is possible to fish this property and the Darien Conservancy property in the same day. 
 
CRYSTAL RIVER CONSERVANCY:  Updated 4/3/17:  3 out of 10 rating.  The Darien Property a few miles below Marble is beatiful and wild, and well worth the 45 minute drive from our shop.  This stretch of river is about 1 mile long and is truly wild--featuring a lot of pocket water and wild rainbows, browns, with a few cutthroat and whitefish.  Fishing at the base of Chair Mountain is fabulous, and this unique property is a must for the fisherman who enjoys serenity and wild fish.  Too many private properties in Colorado have a "canned" feel to them with stocked fish--this is the furthest thing from that.  There are no pellet-fed stockers here.  An eighteen inch fish is a large fish up in this neck of the woods (there are a few in the 18 inch class lurking around, but they are rare at this elevation)--most of these fish are 12 to 14 inches, and this is more of a high-altitude type of fishery than the usual haunts in our valley.  We recommend 3 and 4 weight rods, and in the summer you usually don't have to use a nymph rig--occasionally you may want to hang a beadhead dropper off a dry fly in the deeper holes.  The rod fee is modest--the most affordable we know of in Colorado--and use is limited to 4 rods per day.  You can call or stop by the shop to reserve a date with or without a guide.  We highly recommend this wild property on one of the last truly wild freestone rivers in Colorado. 

Neutral colored clothing, quiet wading, and stealthy presentations will help you catch fish wherever you are on the Crystal with late season flows getting low.


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