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Report for the Roaring Fork Valley--Updated 3/17/18

Fifth-Season is here again! The fishing has been better than expected with the nice weather recently. Go get some flies wet!

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ROARING FORK RIVER (Flows Updated 3/17/18):  LOWER RIVER: (Carbondale to Glenwood Springs):  8 out of 10 rating:   381 cfs in Glenwood Springs with good clarity and low, winter water flows. Our famous Fifth-Season is here again! Rising fish, midge hatches, the more than occassional BWO fluttering around, molting stoneflies, great fishing and a minimum of crowds! Fifth-Season is by far and away some of the absolute best fishing of the entire year! The majority of the fish are now holding in their wintering areas (slow, deep, pools and seams), and generally speaking, where you catch one - there's more. No need to get out there early in the day, as the best fishing has been taking place during the afternoons and early evenings. Typical nymph rigs fished deep is the name of the game now. Don't count on eggs to be the fly(?) of the day like they often are during November and April. Stoneflies and attractor beadhead nymphs are often the best lead/point/first fly, with small midge larva and emergers in black, gray and red being good dropper flies. Large, size 8-12 stonefly nymphs are a superb bet when fishing shallow-mid depth and faster water - this is due to the abundance of molting stoneflies. Streamer fishing has tapered off pretty dramatically, though a few die-hards are still picking up a few random fish here and there. Small to medium sized streamers are fishing best with olive, black, orange and yellow being preferred colors.  Massive articulated streamers can be effective but they also wreck havok on the average trout that also eat them out of instinct only to have a massive hook (or two!) through their eyeball or brain. Be smart when using these big streamers! 150lb tarpon are rountinely caught on flies smaller than a wooly bugger! Dry fly junkies are all of the sudden back out now that the midges are hatching in big numbers. Look for clouds and overcast to yield the best (and longest) hatches, especially during the afternoons into the early evening hours. Small size 20-22 midge dries fished on 6x tippet is generally sufficient enough. BWOs will often be seen mixed in with the midges, thusly keep a sharp eye which insect the fish are focusing on. In another month, caddis will be on the scene as the midge hatches fade.

MIDDLE RIVER: (Basalt to Carbondale)  7.5 out of 10 rating:  242cfs at Emma (Basalt) with superb water clarity.  Much like the lower river, flies are becoming smaller and smaller with the exception being the occassional stonefly or streamer.  Flies and techniques are the same as the lower river. Two Rivers Rd, Upper and Lower Bypass, Hooks Bridge and Catherine's Store Bridge are all good areas to check out right now. Expect this section to be more midge oriented as the BWOs are still progressing.

UPPER RIVER: (Basalt to Aspen)  6.5 out of 10 rating:   86 cfs below Maroon Creek with good clarity. Use caution up here and fish during the warmest period of the day for success.  Access is somewhat challenging - expect to post-hole through the snow in spots to gain access to the river. Go get your turns in on the hill in the morning and fish the afternoons! The upper river should start to really pick up at the end of the month. Like the middle river, stones, small attractor nymphs and midges are the main courses.

ONE MONTH FISHING FORECAST:  Fifth-Season hatches are coming into fruition. Look for some of the best fishing of year to take place from now through March .Fishing success at this time of year greatly hinges on the weather. Warm, overcast days are best, especially those that have previous overnight lows above 18'f. Cloudless, sunny days are common and translates into poor morning fishing followed by decent-good afternoons. Dress in layers with the varying spring weather. Within another month or so, all the talk will be about caddis (hint hint - perhaps a caddis larva will be good fly to try!).
HOT FLY PATTERNS: STONEFLIES--- NYMPHS---Pat's Rubberlegs, 20 Inch Bomb, Soft Shell Golden, ATTRACTORS---Eggs, Prince, Rainbow Warrior, Worms BWOS--- DRIES-Roy's Special Emerger, CDC Indicator Parachute BWO, No Hackle BWO EMERGERS-RS2's, Rocky Mtn BWO Emerger, Soft Hackle Baetis NYMPHS-BTS Baetis, Black PTs, Micro Mayfly Brown  MIDGES---DRIES---Trailing Shuck Midge, Stillborn Midge, Sprout Midge EMERGERS---RS2's black, Palaminos, Jujubee Midge, Pulsating Emerger Black---NYMPHS---Zebra Midge Red and Black, Disco Midge Red, Mercury Black Midge, STREAMERS--- Skully Bugger, Sex Dungeon, Sculpzilla, Poxyhead Sculpin, Beldar Bugger, Baby Gonga, Coffey's Sparkle Minnow.


FRYING PAN RIVER-- (Flows Updated 3/17/18): 7 out of 10:  89 cfs today with perfect clarity. Look for the best fishing to take place along the upper river from mile marker 8 up to the dam. During the most frigid of days the best fishing is always in the top two miles below dam. Midges are the name of the game right now with lighter hatches taking place during the afternoons from noon to 3pm. Light tippets of 6x and 7x are needed for the small flies being fished. Midge larva patterns in red, gray and black are best during the morning hours prior to hatches. Midday count on various emerger patterns like RS2s, Barr Emergers and the like fishing well behind a midge dry or midge larva depending on where in the water column the fish are holding. Eggs and mysis shrimp are still fishing well as attractor nymphs also. The Toilet Bowl is open again after being temporarily closed due to knuckleheads scuba diving and launching SUPs and then posting it on social media. We also encourage anglers to avoid fishing to actively spawning fish, especially on The Flats. Take good measure to avoid wading on or through the many redds (spawning beds) that are present.

ONE MONTH FISHING FORECAST:  The days are getting longer and longer and the fishing is getting better and better. The Frying Pan offers perhaps Colorado's best winter fly-fishing, so give it a chance when you're up here! Flies and techniques are going to stay the same overall for the next 6-8 weeks. Look for the dry fly fishing and the midge hatches to intensify slightly as we get closer to spring. 

HOT FLY PATTERNS: MIDGES---DRIES-Hatching Midge, Hi-Vis Griffiths Gnat, CFS Adult Midge, Trailing Shuck Midge, Stillborn Midge EMERGERS-CDC RS2s, RS2s, Tidbit, Medallion Midge, Biot Midge Pupa, Pulsating Emerger NYMPHS-Disco Midge Red, Glass Bead Midge, Black Beauty, Mercury Blood Midge, TMidge,  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, Two Bits, Pandemics, MYSIS-Solitude Mysis, BTS Mysis, BC Mysis ATTRACTORS-Egg patterns (small)






COLORADO RIVER FROM GLENWOOD SPRINGS TO RIFLE (Flows Updated 3/17/18)-- 8 out of 10 rating: 1,290 cfs at Glenwood Springs with nice green clarity.  The most common bug being seen are midges and winter stoneflies. BWOs are just now starting to be seen. No real big numbers yet, but that should change with the next continuous warm-up. Rubberleg stones, princes, small PTs and RS2s, red Zebras, eggs, worms and the like are all fishing well.  The fish have moved into their winter holding water (slow, deep pools and seams and tailouts), thusly where you catch one fish - another one or two is likely residing.  Keeping your flies in-the-zone and in-the-drink are key; get as long of a drift as possible.  Sick of chucking lead?! Dry fly anglers are seeing good numbers of rising fish in the afternoons and early evenings. We're not seeing large Midgezilla's yet, though good numbers of size #20-22 midges are in relitive abundance. Be patient, look closely and you'll be handsomely rewarded. The streamer fishing has tapered off with the cold weather but there's always a dumb fish that might eat one. Gray, overcast days have yielded the best fishing for sure lately. 

1 MONTH FISHING FORECAST: During periods of warmth and overcast the Colorado River has the potential to "go-off" and you'll swear it's the best winter trout fishing in the country! Keep an eye on the overnight low temps, which ideally should be above 18-20'f for the best fishing the following day. Cover water to find the fish - but once you do stay there and fish it thoroughly before moving on. Within another month all the talk will be about blizzard caddis hatches - get ready!

BAR ZX RANCH (AKA LAMPTON LAKES) near Paonia Reservoir.  (0 out of 10 rating):  See you in April/May! 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 above-average sized trout.  Bar ZX is in an absolutely 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.  This is not shooting-fish-in-a-barrel fishing.  These fish are large and educated. About every specie of trout known to man seemingly exists here; rainbows, browns, cutts, brookies, tigers and more.  Currently the fishing has been best suspending nymph rigs midday with good streamer fishing in the mornings and evenings.  Rod fees are $125 per person and a guide is required.  Call us to make a reservation - 970.963.5741



CRYSTAL RIVER  (Flows Updated 3/17/18):  6 out of 10 rating:   73 cfs just above Carbondale with good/green clarity. The best fishing on the Crystal right now is below Redstone. Above Redstone, the river has too much ice to fish effectively. Plenty of whitefish and brown trout have moved into the lower river up from the Roaring Fork to spawn and haven't left yet. It's all about nymphing small attractor and midge patterns right now. Winter stones have yet to hatch in good numbers but will start doing so in another month or so. Eggs are still picking up fish here and there, though not as readily as they did in November/December. Look for midge hatches and rising fish during cloudy afternoons. Come March, the Crystal starts to shine and is one of Colorado's most productive Fifth-Season fisheries. If in the Redstone area, we invite you to check out our new store!  We are located just over the bridge into town on your left (across from the Redstone Inn).  Call us at 970-963-7359 for up to minute river info.  Stop by and check us out!  

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 3/17/18: 7 out of 10 rating.  Just started to become fishable the past week!  This 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. PRICING (per person): Half day $45/Full day $85
CRYSTAL RIVER CONSERVANCY:  Updated 3/17/18:  3 out of 10 rating.  See you this spring! 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--one of 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. PRICING (per person): Half day $40/ 3/4 Day $60/ Full day $80

Neutral colored clothing, quiet wading, and stealthy presentations will help you catch fish wherever you are on the Crystal.