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Report for the Roaring Fork Valley--Updated 5/23/18

Still plenty of fishing options through runoff including the Frying Pan, upper Crystal and the middle/upper Roaring Fork. 

Stop on by our Carbondale headquarters and let us get you dialed-in or visit our new location on the Crystal River in Redstone.




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ROARING FORK RIVER (Flows Updated 5/23/18):  LOWER RIVER: (Carbondale to Glenwood Springs):  7 out of 10 rating:   1,900 cfs in Glenwood Springs with good clarity and decreasing water flows. Runoff is here, though at times during periods of cool weather the river can suddenly turn green and become clear enough to fish (now!). Typical high-water flies like San Juan worms, stoneflies, caddis, green drake nymphs and streamers fished along the banks can produce fish. Sometimes, the fishing can be amazing - so much so that runoff has become one of the locals favorite fishing seasons due to the lack of crowds and opportunities for breaks in river clarity and weather.

MIDDLE RIVER: (Basalt to Carbondale)  7 out of 10 rating:  913 cfs at Emma (Basalt) with green water clarity and decreasing flows. During periods of cool weather expect the river to stay in fishable shape. If a heat-wave comes around, the river will blow-out and become too high and too dirty to fish effectively. Much like the lower river, flies and techniques are similar, with better opportunities for hatches and rising fish. Shallow and heavy nymph rigs fished in the soft pockets of water and near the bank will yield fish. The streamer fishing has been better than average as of late now that the river is increasing in flow. Good numbers of caddis are being seen on sunny days into the evening hours. 

UPPER RIVER: (Basalt to Aspen)  5 out of 10 rating:   600 cfs below Maroon Creek with nice green clarity still. Outside of peak runoff, this section of river generally stays fishable due to the higher elevation and minimum of tributaries. Stoneflies, drake nymphs and caddis are fishing well in the pockets with baetis nymphs and emergers as droppers in the deep and slow pools. For the more aggressive angler willing to be on the move, the streamer fishing has been quite good.  Black, purple and yellow have all been good colors. Stay in the shade and don't overlook skinny, shallow water.    

ONE MONTH FISHING FORECAST:  Currently the Roaring Fork is in beautiful shape! Runoff has seemingly subsided for the first of generally two peak flows; one in May, and one in June. As mentioned above, within the coming weeks stoneflies, caddis, PMDs and green drakes will become the main event as the river begins to decrease and slowly warm. Warm periods of weather may "blow-out" the river temporarily - but don't be scared - as long as we have more than a foot of water visibility we still consider the river fishable. In fact, some of the best fishing can happen with some color is present. 
HOT FLY PATTERNS: STONEFLIES--- NYMPHS---Pat's Rubberlegs, 20 Inchers, Soft Shell Golden, GREEN DRAKES---NYMPHS---20 Inchers, Crown Jewel GD, ATTRACTORS---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, Darth Baetis, PTs, Micro Mayfly Brown  MIDGES---DRIES---Trailing Shuck Midge, Midge Cluster, 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, CADDIS---NYMPHS-Cold War Caddis, Little Caddis Pupa, Breadcrust, BH Electric Caddis EMERGERS-Soft Hackles, Partridge Caddis, Halo Caddis, ZWings DRIES-Foam Elk Hairs, Unsinkable Caddis, Stimis, Ginger Variant  STREAMERS--- Skully Bugger, Mini Sex Dungeon, Sculpzilla, Beldar Bugger, Baby Gonga, Cofey Minnows


FRYING PAN RIVER-- (Flows Updated 5/23/18): 7 out of 10:  110 cfs today with perfect clarity. This river remains clear and fishable throughout runoff due to it being a tailwater fishery, as other rivers are rendered unfishable with high and muddy conditions. Fishing well throughout the river now including the middle and lower river! Midges are the name of the game during late mornings with BWOs dominating by midday. 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. Baetis nymphs like PTs, BTS Baetis, Panty Droppers and the like are equally good. Midday count on various emerger patterns like RS2s, Barr Emergers and the like fishing well behind a midge or BWO dry. We also encourage anglers to avoid fishing to actively spawning fish. April and early May are often the big rainbow spawing periods up here. 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 is perhaps Colorado's best tailwater fishery, so give it a chance when you're up here! The fishing is arguably better now than it is during the summer months as the hatches are heavy and the crowds much less. As runoff takes its toll and most freestone fisheries suffer the effects, the Pan will stay in beautiful shape! Flies and techniques are going to stay the same overall for the next 6-8 weeks. 

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 CADDIS---DRIES-Neversink Caddis, X-Caddis, Foam Stimis, EMERGERS-Soft Hackle Peacock, Partridge & Orange, Partridge & Green, NYMPHS-Electric Caddis, Breadcrust, Halo Emerger, ATTRACTORS-Egg patterns (small)






COLORADO RIVER FROM GLENWOOD SPRINGS TO RIFLE (Flows Updated 5/23/18)-- 5 out of 10 rating: 6,230 cfs at Glenwood Springs with improving water clarity.  Due to the massive amount of tributaries feeding into the river, the Colorado is the last river in the valley to clear (turn green). Better fishing can be found elsewhere, but if you're in the area and want to wet a fly line, by all means go fish. Just keep those flies near the soft pockets of shallower water and be sure to quickly cover the water. 

1 MONTH FISHING FORECAST:  Brown and bad and good is good when it comes to water clarity on the Colorado! Currently looking pretty darn brown and blown-out with runoff. In the meantime, go fish the Frying Pan and upper Roaring Fork rivers which are in good shape and fishing well. Get ready for PMDs and Green Drakes in the coming weeks!

BAR ZX RANCH (AKA LAMPTON LAKES) near Paonia Reservoir.  (7.5 out of 10 rating): Iced-out and fishable! Some of the best fishing on BarZX takes place now before the crowds come during runoff and before they've seen many flies. If you've never had shots at BIG trout (or if you simply love BIG trout), this very well might be your best opportunity. 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 5/23/18):  5 out of 10 rating: above Redstone, 7 out of 10 below Redstone   764 cfs just above Carbondale with improving clarity. The best fishing on the Crystal right now is above Redstone (Coal Creek) where the river is still clear and waking up from winter's grip. Like other valley rivers in higher elevations, hatches are consisting of BWOs and midges for the most part with caddis right around the corner.. Some decent numbers of rising fish can be found daily again. Keep your rigs light, the flies small, and cover water with the utmost of stealth. These are much spookier fish than those you'd find on the Fork and Pan. No one knows the Crystal River better than Crystal Fly Shops! Come on in either of our stores and let us dial you in. 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 5/14/18: 7 out of 10 rating.  Just started to become fishable over the past month!  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 5/14/18:  5 out of 10 rating.   This section of river near Marble really starts to pick up this month. As other lower elevation waters suffer the effects of runoff, the upper Crystal typically stays in beautiful shape. 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.