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Report for the Roaring Fork Valley--Updated 3/5/19

Fifth-Season fishing at its finest! The next 4 weeks offer some of the best fishing of the year!

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 3/5/19):  LOWER RIVER: (Carbondale to Glenwood Springs):  7 out of 10 rating: 320 cfs in Glenwood Springs with changing water flows due to periods of extreme cold followed by warmth.  Our famous Fifth-Season is well underway. The days are getting longer, and slowly warmer too. The fish begin to take notice as midges finally hatch in good numbers making the fishing quite good. Winter stones are active and being seen with good regularity. The dog-days of winter are behind us! Keeping an eye on the overnight low temperatures will tell you when the best fishing days will be. Ideally you want those overnight low temps to be above 18-20'f for the river to be free of ice, slush etc the following day. Generally speaking, the fish are still in their winter holding areas (deep, slow pools and seams), especially early in the day. Once the warmth of afternoon sun kicks in the midges will begin to hatch and the fish will follow them into riffles and later, the backeddies. The best fishing is most often from noon to 5pm right now. Stoneflies of various flavors and sizes are fishing well. Favorites include 20 Inchers, Princes, Rubberlegs and Zirdles in #10-18. Eggs are picking up fish here and there too but are not as reliant as they were back in November and December. Basic midge patterns covering all stages of life in sizes #18-22 will play ball. We're fond of Zebra's in black and red, RS-2's in black and gray, and dries like the Roy's Special Emerger, Hi-Vis Clusters, Stillborns and Trailing Shuck Midge Emergers. Some surprising numbers of risers are already being seen - the mark of the opener of Fifth-Season! Come find out why this is such a special time of year! Don't let the ranking fool you - it's variable with the weather. 

MIDDLE RIVER: (Carbondale to Basalt) 6 out of 10 rating: 158 cfs in Emma with variable flows due to periods of extreme cold followed by warmth. (beware of ice flows) Expect the same fishing conditions as the Lower River with the exception of it's reliability - which is BETTER due to the Frying Pan River influencing (warmer) water temps below its confluence with the Roaring Fork in Basalt. Access is probably easier here too as the road and highway parallel s the river closely. Two Rivers Road, 7-11 Bridge, Hooks Bridge, Catherines Store and Gianetti access areas are all great options to jump into the river and wet your line. As the days slowly continue to warm and lengthen, the fishing will too continue to pick up. The nymph fishing has been solid on most any warm day. The dry fly fishing is still picking up and is more consistent on the lower river.

UPPER RIVER: (Basalt to Aspen)  5 out of 10 rating:   N/A cfs (ice on guage) below Maroon Creek with perfect clarity. If you're willing to trounce through the snow you'll have seemingly an entire river to yourself. Access is not easy due to the good snowpack but some seriously good fishing can be had. Like other stretches of river on the Fork, the weather will dictate the fishing. Powder days are a winter anglers holiday too! Fish the deep pools, seams and pockets. Where you find one fish, there's probably another. Follow the sun to stay warm and fish with a fixed amount of line to prevent ice build-up in your guides. Though the fishing isn't easy here, it will reward you with some of the prettiest and largest fish in the entire river system. Flies and tactics are similar to the Middle and Lower river with the exception of better sight-fishing due to the low water levels.

ONE MONTH FISHING FORECAST: Watch the weather and follow the warmth! 
HOT FLY PATTERNS: STONEFLIES--- NYMPHS---Pat's Rubberlegs, 20 Inchers, Soft Shell Golden, Prince, Black CJs  ATTRACTORS---Prince, Rainbow Warrior, Worms, Eggs MIDGES---DRIES-Cluster Midge, Trailing Shuck Midge Emerger, Bills Midge Adult, Griffiths, Stillborn Foam Midge EMERGERS-RS2's, Biot Midge Emerger, Pulsating Emerger, Rojos, CDC Loopwing Black LARVA-Zebra Midge, UFOs, Mercury Black Beauty, FlashBangs, T.Midge 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 STREAMERS--- Skully Bugger, Mini Sex Dungeon, Sculpzilla, Beldar Bugger, Baby Gonga, Cofey Minnows


FRYING PAN RIVER-- (Flows Updated 3/5/19): 7 out of 10:  50 cfs with perfect clarity and stable flows. Longer days and more sunshine and warmth have awakened the fish and bugs! Some seriously great numbers of rising fish are being seen nearly daily during the afternoons and early evenings. Where else can you find rising fish, good hatches and great dry fly fishing - ah, the Frying Pan. 95% of the fishing pressure is taking place in the top mile below the dam BUT good fishing and hatches are being seen down to Rosies (mm10.5). Recent outings have found that the exact fly pattern hasn't mattered nearly as much as it's size, color and MOVEMENT. Skating and skittering midge dries is often just as effective as dead drifting them! Light tippets of 6x and 7x fluoro and small size #20-24 midges in black and gray are best. Nymph fishing has been good using the usual mysis shrimp, various dark BWO nymphs and small midge larva and emergers in black, red, white and gray. Spawners are all over the place in the Flats - please watch where you're wading and don't fish to actively spawning fish. We see anglers (and guides!) DAILY disturbing actively spawning fish, especially in the Flats. Seeing large rainbows (and some browns too) in skinny water is apparantly too much to resist for those who know better than to harass these fish. Education is key!

ONE MONTH FISHING FORECAST: Expect the midge hatch to intensifly each and every week. A small number of early BWOs will most likely be seen near the dam in the next month or so. Flows should remain stable. Like elsewhere - pick the warmest days for the best and most comfortable fishing.

HOT FLY PATTERNS: 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) 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 3/5/19)-- 7.5 out of 10 rating: 1,130 cfs at Glenwood Springs with good green water clarity and variable flows due to the weather. Some quality fish have been put into nets lately including those taken on dry flies! Yep, Fifth-Season is officially here. Several stretches of water are seeing very good numbers of risers during mid to late afternoons if the wind stays relitively low once the midges come off (11am-3pm), in particular from New Castle to Silt. Our clustering midge patterns are superb indicator flies whether dry fly fishing or hanging emergers below. Skittering your midge dry flies can often be key when the usual dead-drift isn't producing. Midges up to size 16 (most 18s-20s) are being seen in olive, black and gray. The usual nymph stuff is working including stoneflies, small attractors and various midges. The biggest key is having the right conditions - warm overnight low temps equate to good fishing opportunities the following day. Especially at this time of year, where you find one fish, there's probably more. Keep moving around until you find the fish. Often overlooked by those fishing the Lower Colorado, these fish LOVE to suspend during hatches. Don't be afraid to run some shallow, mid-column nymph/emerger rigs if you're struggling out there.

1 MONTH FISHING FORECAST:  Fishing will most definitely stay solid for the next few weeks. In fact, March is one of the most popular months for fishing The Big River. Fifth-Season on the Lower Colorado exemplies what makes this time of year so special; good hatches, numbers of fish, quality of fish and a dramatic lack of pressure compared to the other "four" seasons. The valley's first and last hatches always begin and end in the lower elevations. Why go up the Frying Pan on a busy, cold weekend when it could be 20'f warmer down-valley with bigger fish, heavier hatches and less people? (not that the Pan is ever a "bad" option!)

BAR ZX RANCH (AKA LAMPTON LAKES) near Paonia Reservoir.  (0 out of 10 rating): See you in Spring! 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 3/5/19):  5 out of 10 rating  63 cfs in Carobondale with good 'Crystal-clear' water and ideal conditions. Fishing is not on fire yet, but is being stoked with more fuel daily. Within the next 2-3 weeks the river will dramatically awake from its winter slumber. Already, we've started to see a few midges and spring stones on the banks, giving us a glimpse of things to come. Realistically, the best fishing on the Crystal right now is only in Carbondale, as the majority of the rest of the river is well frozen and unfishable. Keep your rigs light, the flies fairly small, and cover any deep water. Don't be stagnant - cover water! 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 2/21/19: 5 out of 10 rating. See you in Spring! This is a fabulous private property on the Crystal River with a lot of river frontage --almost one mile--and a lot of fish. It is also our backyard and adjacent to our satellite location in Redstone. 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 plus guide fee.
CRYSTAL RIVER CONSERVANCY:  Updated 2/21/19:  0 out of 10 rating.  See you in Spring! This section of river near Marble has really started to pick up. The Darien Property a few miles below Marble is beatiful and wild, and well worth the 45 minute drive from our Carbondale 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.