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Report for the Roaring Fork Valley--Updated 4/13/18

Fifth-Season is here again! Caddis are right around the corner... The fishing is definately hot n' heavy! Hello spring!

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ROARING FORK RIVER (Flows Updated 4/13/18):  LOWER RIVER: (Carbondale to Glenwood Springs):  7.5 out of 10 rating:   621 cfs in Glenwood Springs with good clarity and low water flows. Our famous Fifth-Season is here again but winding down as caddis make their appearance known in the coming weeks. Rising fish, midges and BWOs 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 fish have now left their deep wintering haunts and have transitioned into shallower water, especially when bugs are hatching. No need to get out there too early in the day, as the best fishing has been taking place from late morning until early evening. Stoneflies and caddis nymphs are often the best lead/point/first fly, with small BWO and midge patterns as dropper. 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. If fishing moderate-deep water I would omit the stonefly and run a caddis or BWO nymph. We've got some killer little caddis larva jig flies from our own John Newbury that have been fishing well. Good dropper patterns include a mixed bag of midge and BWO emergers. Dry fly anglers will notice fish keying-in on midges from 10am - 1pm and BWOs from noon - 3pm, with brief periods of overlap. Roy's Special Emerger, Backwater Baetis, Blue Quills, Sparkleduns, No Hackles, Cluster Midges. Griffiths and Stillborn Midges are some of our favorite dry flies. Why chuck lead or a sock of a streamer when so many rising fish are to had? God, I love springtime!

Streamer fishing has finally picked back up now that the fish are spreading out. Prior and thereafter the midday hatches, the streamer bite can be quite good. Expect lots of visuals and the occassional take or two. Small to medium sized streamers are fishing best with black, purple, tan and white 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! 

MIDDLE RIVER: (Basalt to Carbondale)  7 out of 10 rating:  337 cfs at Emma (Basalt) with superb water clarity.  Much like the lower river, flies and techniques are similar. Keep in mind all our hatches start in the lower elevations (lower river) and gradually push up-river. In general, I'd say the fishing is about two weeks behind the lower river, meaning once the caddis start in Glenwood (or any other hatch for that matter) it'll be about another two weeks before they hit Basalt.  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 and BWO oriented as the caddis hatch is still progressing (currently on the Colorado River below Rifle). Covering water is key when fishing this section of river to stay on the fish. 

UPPER RIVER: (Basalt to Aspen)  6 out of 10 rating:   128 cfs below Maroon Creek with good clarity. The dethaw has began! Access is much improved as the snow continues to melt and the river trails open-up. Though flies are similar to the middle and lower river, presentation is paramount to success up here. Your nymph rigs should be lighter, indicators smaller and wading with stealth so as to not spook the wary fish in smaller stream surroundings. If you enjoy hiking and want to escape the crowds, try hiking above Jaffe Park in Woody Creek Canyon - the further you hike, the less people you'll see. Some of the best dry fly fishing on the entire Roaring Fork is occuring up here right now. Again, expect mostly midges and BWOs in the way of hatches. Stonefly nymphs fished in the pocket water can yield surprising results and often helps hide our casting/mending mistakes.

ONE MONTH FISHING FORECAST:  As mentioned above, within the coming weeks caddis will become the main event as the river begins to rise and slowly warm. Stoneflies too will become of more importance. 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, 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 4/13/18): 7 out of 10:  89 cfs today with perfect clarity. 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. Eggs and mysis shrimp are still fishing well as attractors. 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 often stays 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 ATTRACTORS-Egg patterns (small)






COLORADO RIVER FROM GLENWOOD SPRINGS TO RIFLE (Flows Updated 4/13/18)-- 8 out of 10 rating: 2,060 cfs at Glenwood Springs with nice green clarity.  The most common bugs being seen are midges and BWOs. Caddis are just now starting to be seen. No real big numbers yet, but that should change with the next continuous warm-up. Stonefly and caddis nymphs are becoming more and more effective weekly.  The fish have moved out of their winter holding areas and are now spreading out following the hatches.  Keeping your flies in-the-drink and drifting for as long as possible is key. Don't overlook the riffles and runs midday for suspended fish on short nymph rigs. Sick of chucking lead after a long winter?! Me too! Dry fly anglers are seeing good numbers of rising fish daily now. A mixed back of midges and BWOs will both be seen with sporadic caddis. Currently the first real "wave" of caddis are down in DeBeque (west of Rifle). It'll be another two weeks of so before the "Mother's Day" (really more like Tax day) caddis will be prevelant. Be patient, look closely and you'll be handsomely rewarded when fishing dries down here. At times, this section of river will rival the heaviest of caddis hatches seen on the Arkansas. 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:  The Tax Day caddis hatch will be here before you know it! Are you ready? We are! The easiest/best fishing down here is certainly done via drift boat or raft while floating the majestic river touted as the "lifeblood of the West". Let one of our professional guides float you down the river for a truly memorable day. Wading anglers earn their keep by rock-hopping and covering water down here. Often, the best dry fly fishing is done on foot, allowing anglers to stalk and patiently wait for particular fish to rise. As the river begins to increase in flow and gain in color, "junk bugs" like worms, eggs, stoneflies and big attractors will start to fish well.

BAR ZX RANCH (AKA LAMPTON LAKES) near Paonia Reservoir.  (7 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 4/13/18):  7 out of 10 rating:   159 cfs just above Carbondale with good/green clarity. The best fishing on the Crystal right now is still below Redstone, though the upper river is beginning to fish now also. Fifth-Season yields some the best fishing and least crowded opportunities of the year. Like other valley rivers, hatches are consisting of BWOs and midges. 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 4/1/18: 8 out of 10 rating.  Just started to become fishable over the past two weeks!  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 4/1/18:  3 out of 10 rating.  See you this later this spring!  This section of river near Marble really starts to pick up by the end of the month. Hang in - we're almost there! 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.