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Report for the Roaring Fork Valley--Updated 9/15/18

Late summer and early fall conditions abounding with superb fishing. Think hoppers, streamers and baetis right now.

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ROARING FORK RIVER (Flows Updated 9/15/18):  LOWER RIVER: (Carbondale to Glenwood Springs):  8 out of 10 rating:  about 525 cfs in Glenwood Springs with good clarity, cool water and stable flows. With the recent abundance of monsoonal rains, the fishing has been super solid. Outside of hoppers, streamers and worms, flies are generally now consisting of small baetis and psuedocleons. Downsize all those rigs with smaller flies and lighter tippets. Decent numbers of risers during overcast days and under the shade midday. A few of our guides are still catching fish on Chubby's and hopper attractors trailing them with a tungsten baetis nymph and baetis emerger of sorts. Lately, the streamer bite has been good but can vary with the weather. Better colors have been black, cream, olive and yellow. We're obviously getting closer to fall and the brown trout bite will only get better and better, typically peaking in late October/early November. Some caddis and PMDs are still lingering around but are quickly dwindling.

MIDDLE RIVER: (Basalt to Carbondale)  7 out of 10 rating:  420 cfs at Emma (Basalt) with green water clarity and stable flows. Same conditions and techniques as the lower river but not fishing quite as well with the lower water flows. Due to the smaller size of the river in this stretch, dry/dropper rigs fish better here than on the lower river. Small-medium sized chubby's with a brace of small beadheads trailing behind will catch plenty of fish, in particular while floating. Floating this section via raft is not as productive this year with the low water (meaning you're often floating right over the top of the fish) but is still a viable option for the experienced oarsmen and angler. Fishing has still been pretty rippin' out there! Wading anglers will still find that two or three fly nymph rigs are still the most productive in terms of numbers of fish. Like the lower river, the streamer fishing is getting better and better weekly. 

UPPER RIVER: (Basalt to Aspen)  6.5 out of 10 rating:   N/A cfs below Maroon Creek with perfect clarity. The fishing is picking up after a hot summer but the fish are skittish with the low water and small flies hatching (tricos and baetis). Fish are spread throughout the river now; deep pits, seams and pools are best midday, while fish are holding in the pockets and heads early in the day. Covering water is key up here to stay onto the fish throughout the course of the day.  Due to the smaller river size up here, fishing lighter tippets and smaller flies is more commonplace. Stealthy approaches and casts pay off in spades. A mixed bag of caddis, tricos (decreasing), baetis and psuedos (increasing) are being seen. Pressure is fairly high within the first mile of Jaffe and Stein Parks but scarce between. Hint - Do a little hiking to gain solitude. 

ONE MONTH FISHING FORECAST: Expect the PMD's and caddis to slowly fade giving way to the increasing number of baetis and psuedos. As mentioned above, the brown trout (and choagies) will put the feed bag on this month in preparation of the coming spawn. Expect the streamer bite to get hot n' heavy especially with the recent wet trend in the weather. The worm bite has been good but by months end will transition to the egg. The fishing pressure is lessening with just Fridays and weekends being busy.
HOT FLY PATTERNS: STONEFLIES--- NYMPHS---Pat's Rubberlegs, 20 Inchers, Soft Shell Golden, BH Yellow Sally DRIES- Chubbies, Foamulators, Clodhoppers, ATTRACTORS---Prince, Rainbow Warrior, Worms PMDs---DRIES-CDC Comparaduns, PMD Cripples, Melon Quills EMERGERS-Halfback PMD, Swissy's, Barr Emerger PMD, NYMPHS-Panty Droppers, Poxybacks, Mayhems, Mac Grubers, 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  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 9/15/18): 6.5 out of 10:  306 cfs with perfect clarity. Expect good numbers of finicky risers - these fish have been pressured heavily over the summer and are known to even refuse naturals. Both a blessing and a curse, compound hatches of drakes, flavs, PMDs, BWOs, caddis, craneflies, midges and serratellas are all present and often overlap. The observant angler will do well battling wits with the fish, while neophytes can expect tough fishing. Keep in mind though, that a tough day on the Pan is still better than a good day on many rivers. Midges and small baetis nymphs/emergers are best in the morning hours. By midday look for PMDs to dominate the menu, with varying densities of drakes and caddis. Light tippets of 6x and 7x are needed for the low and clear water being fished. Downstream drifts aid in hooking "picky" fish on the dry - allowing you present the FLY to the fish first instead of your line. As per the ususal on the Pan, late summer crowds are heavy, especially on weekends. Rusty spinner falls during the evenings and early morning hours have still been decent and sometimes substantial. Nymph rigs are generally consisting of smaller BWO and midge patterns. A short, light rig will generally get things done.

ONE MONTH FISHING FORECAST: Weekend crowds are borderline unbeareable, with weekday crowds slightly less so. But hey, when you're on a world famous trout stream at the absolute peak time of year, what do you expect? If it wasn't busy, then something's wrong. Flows are expected to stay around this level most of the summer providing good dry fly fishing and easy wading. The infamous Frying Pan serratella has been out in good numbers lately confusing many anglers. No one knows this hatch as well as our very own, Kirk Webb, who's researched, studied and fished this hatch with entomologists, scientists and other serratella junkies over the course of many years. His articles on the subject speak for themselves. 

HOT FLY PATTERNS: GREEN DRAKES---DRIES-GD Comparadun, Paradrake, Hairwing Drake, Henwing Drake EMERGERS-Soft Hackle GD, Stalcups GD NYMPHS-Crown Jewel, 20 Incher, AnatoDrake 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, PMDS---DRIES- Melon Quill, Sparkleduns, TiltWings, CutWing Dun, Catch PMD, Yarn Rusty Spinner EMERGERS-Barr Emerger, Halfback, Olive Soft Hackle, NYMPHS-Panty Droppers, CJ's Red, PTs, Poxybacks 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) 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






COLORADO RIVER FROM GLENWOOD SPRINGS TO RIFLE (Flows Updated 9/15/18)--  8 out of 10 rating but widely variable: 1,760 cfs at Glenwood Springs with decent greenish water clarity.  Water temps have cooled off which have the fish feeding pretty hard after a hot summer. Tricos (and rusty's) are out in decent numbers in the morning hours. Strangely enough, the fish of the lower Collie prefer to feed on them below the surface (sunken adult spinners, nymphs and emergers) and serve as a great dropper below an attractor nymph. Worms, rubberlegs, princes, and PTs and variations are always fairly reliable. The brown trout fishing has noticeably picked-up as the fish move into pre-spawn. Streamer fishing the morning hours has been exceptional during overcast/rainy days. Brown/orange, black, gray, olive and yellow are the most productive colors.

1 MONTH FISHING FORECAST:  As mentioned above, look for the fishing to gain in productivity over the next month as the water temps continue to cool and the browns get into pre-spawn mode. The dry fly fishing will improve as the weather becomes more conducive. Overcast days will yield good numbers of risers on BWOs. The PMDs and caddis will taper off by months end. The big draw for anglers at this time of year is the rivers streamer fishing. When you hit it right, you'll swear it doesn't get any better, anywhere. A wide variety of patterns fish well but favorites include mini-dungeons, zuddlers, sparkle minnows and beldar buggers. Give us a call for up-to-date conditions on water temps and clarity - 970.963.5741

BAR ZX RANCH (AKA LAMPTON LAKES) near Paonia Reservoir.  (7.5 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 10/15/18):  6.5 out of 10 rating: above Redstone/Marble, 65 cfs in Redstone with amazingly good clarity (Crystal-clear)and ideal conditions. The Crystal is rockin' right now and fishing very well along the entire river! Fishing restrictions were lifted below Avalanche Creek on Oct.15th - and the fishing has been better than expected! Like other valley rivers in higher elevations, hatches are consisting of caddis and PMDs for the most part with sporadic hoppers also being seen.  Good numbers of rising fish are being found daily. Remember - it is far more important to fish the right water type than having the "right" fly. Keep your rigs light, the flies fairly small, and cover water with the utmost of stealth. This is perfect water for dry fly and dry/dropper fishing techniques - perhaps some of the best in the entire valley! Make a cast or two in each likely pocket and move on to the next. Don't be stagnant - cover water! These are much spookier fish than those you'd find on the Fork and Pan. The higher elevation water above Redstone and Marble are nice and cool and is the perfect place to beat the heat (and crowds) this summer! 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 9/15/18: 7 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. This property is currently closing at 2PM due to high water temps in the afternoon, so full days must start early.  PRICING (per person): Half day $45/Full day $85 plus guide fee.
CRYSTAL RIVER CONSERVANCY:  Updated 8/2/18:  7.5 out of 10 rating.  This section of river near Marble has really started to pick up. As other lower elevation waters suffer the effects of high water temps and poor fishing, the upper Crystal stays in absolutely 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 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 plus guide fee.

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