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Report for the Roaring Fork Valley--Updated 9/5/17

Runoff is DONE!  GREEN DRAKES and PMDs are hatching on the Frying Pan, Caddis and Stones on the Collie, PMDs and BWOs on the Roaring Fork and the Crystal River is now aptly named.  Welcome to summer!

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 9/5/17):  LOWER RIVER: (Carbondale to Glenwood Springs):  7 out of 10 rating:   723 cfs in Glenwood Springs with good clarity and quickly receeding water flows. The majority of the fish are now holding mid-river with less and less fish on the banks (excluding overcast and early mornings/late evenings). Nymphing has been best using small attractors (#14-18) with smaller yet (#18-22) BWO nymphs/emergers. Caddis and PMDs are hatching with regularity, while the BWOs are increasing in numbers weekly. Periods of overcast and clouds have made for fairly good afternoon dry fly bites on terrestrials, PMDs and BWOs. Evenings are all about fishing dry flies; skating caddis along the edges of fast water or casting delicate rusty spinners in backwater slicks. Leave the bobbers and split shot at home - now is the time for headlamps and Dry Shake. The streamer fishing has still been strong with black and yellow colors being our favorites (thanks Wiz Kalifa). Early mornings allow for lower light and better streamer conditions. 

MIDDLE RIVER: (Basalt to Carbondale)  7.5 out of 10 rating:  478 cfs at Emma (Basalt) with superb water clarity.  Much like the lower river, flies are becoming smaller and smaller with the fish moving away from the banks and into mid-stream runs and riffles.  The streamer fishing has been off and on, though if timed right, can be the fly of the day outproducing nymphs and 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 black, white and yellow.  Midday hatches have generally been fairly light thus far with a mix of PMDs, caddis and BWOs. Evening float trips are a great way to finish a hot summer day; cooler weather, happy fish, and solid fishing.

UPPER RIVER: (Basalt to Aspen)  7.5 out of 10 rating:   114 cfs below Maroon Creek with good clarity. Unlike the other sections of the Fork, typical runoff flies and techniques are still producing fish. Caddis, PMDs, stoneflies and drake nymphs are generally the name of the game up here for now. That said, flies here too will gradually become smaller and smaller as we roll through August. Covering water is 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. Hopper/dropper rigs are dynamite for picking pocket water apart to fish that most others overlook - hint, hint. (Aspen-Independence Pass) 9 out of 10 rating: You can keep it simple up here.  A small dry fly and covering water is all that's needed to catch the fish up here.  Anglers can expect mostly brook trout with the occassional rainbow and cutthroat thrown into the mix.  The fish aren't big here but they're very forgiving.  If you just want to have a great day of catching fish, this is your spot. 

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. 
HOT 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.


FRYING PAN RIVER-- (Flows Updated 9/5/17): 7 out of 10:  302 cfs today with perfect clarity.  Look for predominately PMDs and green drakes with an increasing number of BWOs and caddis in the way of hatches.  Flows have recently been increased to protect the endangered fish near Grand Junction. When nymphing, focus on small (#18-24) and dark baetis patterns as droppers on the upper river with PMDs playing ball as attractor nymphs.  Don't overlook fishing drake nymphs in the riffles and pocket water either.  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 better than usual due to the higher water flows. If you want to avoid the crowds all together, fish the evenings; the rusty spinner fall has been exceptional. 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:  Crowds are heavy with the least amount of pressure taking place in the evenings after 5pm (weekdays are as busy as weekends). Look for the PMD hatches to remain steady and for BWOs and caddis to increase in numbers as we roll thru September. The drakes will be replaced by flavs, and the PMDs will become outnumbered by BWOs. Due to wide variety of insects hatching simultaneously together, it can often be paramount to really, really pay attention to what each individual fish is feeding on.  

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 GREEN DRAKES---DRIES-Para Wulff GD, Comparadun GD, Sparkledun GD, Para Hares Ear GD, EMERGERS-Stalcups Winged Drake, Soft Hackle Olive, NYMPHS-20 Inchers, Poxyback Drakes, AnatoMay Drake, MYSIS-Solitude Mysis, BTS Mysis ATTRACTORS-Rainbow Warrior, Red Copper John






COLORADO RIVER FROM GLENWOOD SPRINGS TO RIFLE (Flows Updated 9/5/17)-- 8 out of 10 rating: 2,550 cfs at Glenwood Springs with nice green clarity.  The most common bugs being seen are hoppers, PMDs, BWOs, small caddis and a few yellow sallies.  Rubberleg stones, princes, PTs, red CJs, Chubby's and the like are all fishing well.  Most fish are now holding off the banks and in the mid-river seams, riffles and runs.  The stonefly fishing has been ridiculously good from Glenwood - New Castle lately (#6-8 Rubberlegs). Carry a stream thermometer with you at this time of year and be conscience to fully revive your fish before releasing them, especially when those temps climb into the upper 60s. Keeping 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 Chubby's and other attractors with good numbers of caddis in the evenings. Selective feeders in the slicks are eating ants, beetles, BWOs and rusty spinners.  Streamer junkies are doing best using black, yellow, tan and white colorations.  Some good streamers to try would include Gongas, Dungeons, and Double Bunnies. 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 surpised. 

1 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 September, with BWOs increasing in numbers and becoming the dominate insect by the end of the month.  During the first half of September, expect the best fishing to take place early in the day and late in the day. Streamer junkies are getting excited as the brown trout put the feed bag on prior to spawning in October/November.  

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 9/5/17):  9 out of 10 rating:   51 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. Caddis and PMDs are hatching well with huge numbers of fish rising to flies. A few drakes/flavs are lingering around the upper river also. 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. 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 9/5/17: 9.5 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. PRICING (per person): Half day $45/Full day $85
CRYSTAL RIVER CONSERVANCY:  Updated 9/5/17:  9 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.