Report for the Roaring Fork Valley--Updated 10/17/17
Fall fishing is here again. Gone are the crowds of summer, leaving the rivers to old
men, locals and trout bums alike. This is the time of year for swinging wet flies and streamers or chasing risers with baetis
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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FORK RIVER (Flows Updated 10/17/17): LOWER RIVER: (Carbondale to Glenwood Springs): 7.5 out of 10 rating: 781
cfs in Glenwood Springs with good clarity and low, fall water flows. Early and late in the day, one can expect an
increasing number of fish on the banks gearing up for the spawn. Midday, and under the high, bright sun, look for the majority
of fish to stack into the deeper and slower pools and seams. Caddis and PMD hatches are winding down while the BWOs are increasing
in numbers weekly. Periods of overcast and clouds have made for fairly good afternoon dry fly bites on terrestrials and BWOs.
The wet-fly/soft-hackle fishing has picked up dramatically over the past week with the cooler weather. Instead of chucking
peg-eggs, I encourage our younger fish-hounds to try swinging some soft-hackles to the spawners - the results will amaze you,
especially on hard-fished waters. October is the best month of the year for streamer fishing. Small
to medium sized streamers are fishing best with olive, black, orange and yellow being preferred colors. Though at times
massive articulated streamers can be effective, 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!
MIDDLE RIVER: (Basalt to Carbondale) 7 out of 10 rating:
437 cfs at Emma (Basalt) with superb water clarity. Much like the lower river, flies are becoming
smaller and smaller with the exception being the occassional hopper, stonefly or streamer. Speaking of streamers, the
streamer fishing has been rockin' and at times can be the fly of the day outproducing nymphs or dries.
Animate your streamers using your rod tip, taking in the slack line after each pull of your fly. Better
colors have seemed to be yellow, orange, and black. Midday hatches have generally been fairly light thus far with
a mix of BWOs, midges and a few caddis. Summer setups like a Chub/Rub are producing less and less fish weekly.
The nymph fishing has generally consisted of smaller soft-hackles (#14-18) and BWO imitations in the 18-22 size range.
In the coming weeks, egg patterns will start to really produce as the browns and whitefish gear up for the spawn. Flows are
now generally considered too low to float (most of the fish are under your boat!).
UPPER RIVER: (Basalt to Aspen) 8 out of
10 rating: 217 cfs below Maroon Creek with good clarity. Due to the higher
elevation and cooler weather, the brown trout spawn starts a bit earlier up here. Be on the lookout for redds (spawning beds)
and do not harass/fish to actively spawning fish. We know the temptation can be great when you're seeing a 24"
brown trout in less than a foot of water, but education of proper fly-fishing ethics is paramount to fisheries conservation
and an overall healthy fishery. Covering water is the key up here to stay onto the fish. Due to the river being smaller
in size up here, one can expect better dry fly fishing opportunities compared to other sections. Hatches are consisting of
BWOs and midges, with a few small caddis thrown into the mix. Like elsewhere on the Roaring Fork, nymphing the deep and slow
midday with small BWO and midge patterns will keep your rod bent. Early and late in the day, try swinging soft-hackles
and streamers along the edges, banks and riffles. In our opinion, the next 4-6 weeks yields the some of the best fishing of
the entire year. No crowds and lots of hungry fish. Some really rainbows can often be seen feeding below spawners.
ONE MONTH FISHING FORECAST: September is heralded
by our guides as their favorite month of the year. Seemingly all styles of fly fishing work well this month, be it dry fly,
nymph, hopper/dropper, streamers etc. Typically, by the third week of September, the splendor of Autumn in the Rockies is
in full swing, with the aspens in peak foliage. Not only is the fishing great, but the scenery is breathtaking. Both
float trips and wade trips are equally good this month. Float fishing the Roaring Fork allows you to really cover the
water and find the best fishing. Look for fish on the banks during early morning hours, then transitioning to deeper mid-river
seams and pools. Overhanging shade can yield good hopper fishing midday too. Your best course of action during the heat of
the day is deep nymphing the pools or dry/dropper fishing the oxygen. Wading anglers love this time of year for the lower
water flows which gains you much more access to the river. During the first half of this month, caddis and PMDs are
prevelent, while the return of fall BWOs will outnumber the bigger bugs by months-end.
FLY PATTERNS: PMDs---DRIES- Tilt Wing PMD, Melon Quill, Cripple PMD, Polywing Rusty Spinner EMERGERS/NYMPHS-
Halfback PMD, Barr Emerger PMD, Bubbleback PMD, Red CJs, Micro May PMD, STONEFLIES---DRIES- Stimulator,
PMX, Triple Decker NYMPHS---Pat's Rubberlegs, 20 Inch Bomb, Soft Shell Golden, CADDIS---DRIES---Foam
Elk Hairs, Renegades, Neversinks, EthaWings NYMPHS- Electric Caddis, Buckskin 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, Black PTs, Micro Mayfly Brown STREAMERS--- Skully Bugger, Sex Dungeon, Sculpzilla, Poxyhead Sculpin,
Beldar Bugger, Baby Gonga, Coffey's Sparkle Minnow.
RIVER-- (Flows Updated 10/18/17): 7 out of 10: 105 cfs
today with perfect clarity. Flows were decreased today as we settle into the winter flow regime.
Look for predominately BWOs and PMDs with a number of caddis in the way of hatches. When nymphing, focus on small (#18-24)
and dark baetis patterns as droppers on the upper river with PMDs playing ball as attractor nymphs. It can often be
best to get your flies near the bottom but not on the bottom on this river. Midday hatches are
increasing as the fish get used to their flows with patient dry fly junkies finding plenty of 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. Evenings are yielding decent rusty spinner falls on the river assuming that it's high and dry outside . Want to throw
something bigger? The streamer fishing is still pretty solid, particularly in the shade. 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 increasing
with heavy traffic daily. The lower river has been seeing much, much less fishing pressure. Drakes are being seen mostly
in the middle and upper river sections now. The mysis shrimp fishing has been poor due to the lower water flows. If
you want to avoid the crowds all together, fish the evenings; the rusty spinner fall/caddis hatches have been decent. Another
option is fishing the river ABOVE the reservoir. Sure, there's no ten pound trout here but results up here will surprise you!
ONE MONTH FISHING FORECAST: Be on the lookout for actively spawning brown trout, especially
along the middle and lower river (below the dam, Mid November to December are the big months for spawners). Look for the PMDs
and caddis to fade by months end. Hatches will consist of BWOs and midges from here on out. The streamer fishing
will stay strong as long as the midday air temps stay above freezing. Fishing pressure is finally light and by November is
virtually locals only.
HOT FLY PATTERNS: MIDGES---DRIES-Hatching
Midge, Hi-Vis Griffiths Gnat, CFS Adult Midge EMERGERS-CDC RS2s, 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 PMDs---DRIES-AKs Melon Quill, AKs Para Quill, Hackle Dun PMD,
PMD Cripple, CDC Rusty Spinner EMERGERS-Improved Barr Emerger, Halfback PMD, Mayhem PMD NYMPHS-Juju
PMD, Epoxy WC PMD, CDC Red Wired PMD MYSIS-Solitude Mysis, BTS Mysis ATTRACTORS-Rainbow
Warrior, Red Copper John
COLORADO RIVER FROM GLENWOOD SPRINGS
TO RIFLE (Flows Updated 10/17/17)-- 7 out of 10 rating: 2,410 cfs at Glenwood
Springs with nice green clarity. The most common bugs being seen are hoppers, PMDs, BWOs, small caddis and a few rusty
spinners. Rubberleg stones, princes, PTs, red CJs, eggs, worms and the like are all fishing well as attractors.
During mornings and evenings, fishing the banks has been fairly good though most fish are now holding off the banks and in
the mid-river seams, riffles and runs. TKeeping your flies in-the-zone and in-the-drink are key; get as long of a drift
as possible. Dry fly anglers are picking up fish sporadically midday on BWOs, micro caddis and midges. Selective feeders
in the slicks are eating ants, beetles and rusty spinners. Streamer junkies are doing best using black, yellow, tan
and white colorations. Some good streamers to try would include Gongas, Sparkle Minnows, Sculpzillas, Dungeons, and
Skully Buggers. Don't count out the usual eggs, wet flies and small streamers for the brown trout spawn. GLENWOOD
AVE BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION UPDATE: If coming from the Roaring Fork Valley, traffic is fairly light going down-valley,
against the grain of traffic with delays typically of 15-45min in the mornings. Be sure to use the normal detour and don't
take sideroads/shortcuts to avoid the traffic; it doesn't work in your favor. Heading back up-valley in the late afternoons/early
evenings delays are averaging 30-60min. Avoid peak drive times and you'll be just fine. We've been pleasantly
MONTH FISHING FORECAST: As flows continue to decrease, the size of our flies too generally decreases in size.
Count on PMDs and caddis to stay steady though October, with BWOs and midges increasing in numbers and becoming the
dominate insects by the end of the month. Streamer junkies - now is the time! Don't overlook using traditional (dare, i say
small) streamers over previously worked-over fish.
ZX RANCH (AKA LAMPTON LAKES) near Paonia Reservoir. (8 out of 10 rating): 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 10/17/17): 7.5 out of 10 rating: 93 cfs
just above Carbondale with good/green clarity. The water has just recently become low enough to fish well. We're not
just being partial here because we're "Crystal Fly Shops", we're just being honest; the Crystal is fishing about
as well as the Crystal gets! DJ, Andrew, Cody and Kirk have all been spending gobs of time on the river lately, fishing
everything from Carbondale to the ghost of Crystal; fishing has been nothing short of superb. BWO's are out in solid numbers.
If you'd like to avoid the crowds, the Crystal is a great escape. This is "real" fishing, where the fish aren't
huge, often not too selective, and there's not a hundred fish in every pool - you earn every fish here, and every fish should
be celebrated. Dry/dropper rigs are ideal for the abundance of pocket water found on the Crystal. Fishing the soft/slow pockets
of water (and covering water!) makes more of a difference than having the "right" fly. Plenty of whitefish and brown
trout have moved into the lower river up from the Roaring Fork. 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! There's some awfully good fishing going on at Beaver and
Lizard Lakes if you're in the Crystal River Valley- let us get you dialed-in!
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 10/17/17:
9.5 out of 10 rating. WOW! 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 10/17/17: 7.5
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--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.