The week started off cold and wet, warming a little until Friday evening. On Saturday we woke to snow on the ground. It was a great start for the hunters undertaking the 3 rd hunting season. But for the rest of us it was cold. By Saturday afternoon it had cleared nicely and warmed a little. But winter is certainly very close at hand. Sunday warmed and it was perfect weather for the day. In the afternoon a few clouds began to gather portending a change. The weatherman is calling for possible snow over the next 3 days. If the cloud cover remains, it will stay a little warm for a day so if it rains it will be excellent for the BWO's.
The flow in the Frying Pan was cut this week to 60cfs for 3 days. The DOW undertook their annual count of the fish at several points. The good news from the Bureau is that this winter it is intended to keep the river at 90cfs. This will be excellent both for the Pan and the Fork. It will limit the anchor ice build up and will provide greater access to food for the fish over the coldest months. This year has truly been a good year for fishing and it is excellent news to think that the Pan will run 50% higher than normal over winter. So if you plan to come out over winter for some skiing plan to take in some time on the river. It should be excellent.
All the leaves have gone so the river is clear and the water is pristine. There are few fishermen about so with the Pan down at 90cfs, it is at its most accessible for the season. The dearth of fishermen is surely inviting if you are close by. If you make the trip be prepared for winter fishing. You can always take off layers as the sun rises. However the narrowness of the Frying Pan valley dictates that a good part of it now receives only modest direct sunlight during the day. In the shade it is cold. The Fork is also fishing well and the lower flow and clearer water dictates that the Colorado is improving week by week.
Current Flow: below the Dam 93cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
On Tuesday this week the flow dropped to 60cfs for three days while the DOW shocked the fish for a count. By Friday the river had returned to 93cfs. The good news is that the Bureau has advised that they will keep the river running at 90cfs throughout the winter. This is excellent. It is 50 percent up on last year and most certainly will contribute to diminishing the risk of anchor ice in the coldest weather. It will also protect the fish from the harshest winter conditions and permit them to spread out throughout the river and access more feed. This winter promises great fishing after such a prolific summer and autumn.
On Saturday, morning we woke to snow on the ground. It was very cold. The cloud cover passed quickly leaving a generally bright sky which contributed to the cold. There was little bug activity until midday after the sun had had a chance to warm things a little. By mid afternoon the snow on the ground in the direct sunlight had melted off, but it remained cold in the shade. A few baetis were on the water mid-river. From midday the fish started to feed well on emergers. #18 Adams parachute with a #22 red copper john dropper worked very well. The fish took both flies. Pictured below is a nice example. Merle started with his clients at 8 am at the Dam and froze. They caught some nice fish on mysis and then moved downstream to fish baetis dries for the rest of the day. Merle did have some success later on pumpkin caddis patterns, as there were still a few around. But they are late in the day.
Sunday warmed a little releasing a great hatch of BWO's mid-river. Merle reported great BWO fishing towards the dam as well. As the hatch started the fish took both the dry and the sparkle RS2 dropper. But as the fish increased feeding it was best to fish only with the dry. The fish took anything size #18 - #20 with a blue/gray body including Lawson's no hackle, Blue Quills, Adams.
The fishing pressure continues to abate as the colder weather settles in. There are a lot of hunters about so be careful if you are going off for a hike. It is perfect fishing at the moment. There are a lot of bigger fish around in the deeper water. It is as if they sense the end of the season and are making the most of the last baetis as they come off.The principal hatches now are midges and BWO's. This latest cold snap has reintroduced winter conditions where one must wait for a little sun before the midges will hatch.
Recommended Flies: The water is very clear and is now at its proposed winter flow so make sure you are using light tippet – 7x. There is good midge activity in the morning when the sun warms things a little. Try midge larva and pupa before the hatch starts. Put an emerger dropper behind the parachute; also try small emergers; olive biot emergers, size #18 - #22 and black special emergers #18 - #22. If nothing much is going on at the surface, it is also worth trying a sparkle baetis or pheasant tail and midge larva together weighted down. If the fish are moving without breaking the surface, they will be taking emergers. If it warms a little, expect to see a good BWO hatch. Now it will happen from about midday through the afternoon. If so try Lawson's no hackle #18 and #20, Adams #18 - #22. Also try the loopwing emergers #18 - #22, comparaduns and CDC baetis #18 - #22. Despite the bright light on sunny days, there will be hatches in the shaded areas. As the sun is getting lower there are plenty of areas now where the baetis are coming off during the day even if it is bright, provided it is not too cold. Be prepared to change quickly if you are getting refusals. Try to match the size with the hatch as best you can. Now that the fishing pressure has abated, the fish do not seem as fussy as they were a month ago. The midges will be about all day so change back to midge emergers as the situation dictates. Continue to be a little selective with your flies. As it has been getting darker, up high the fishing slows down in the later afternoon. Mid-river however the fishing persists just a little longer. Try any baetis nymph pattern such as pheasant tails and sparkle baetis as dropper. Small copper johns also have been working well. The fish are now on the redds, so egg patterns will work well. But be careful not to disturb the spawning browns. That is the next generation in the making.
Current Flow: near Emma - at Basalt 438 cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page).
The snow has kicked up the flow in the Fork again but not sufficient to discolor the water. The flow dropped for several days below Basalt as the flow in the Frying Pan was reduced for the DOW count.The fishing remains excellent. The best results remain with BWO's either nymphs or emergers. In addition small princes and san juan worms work in the mornings. Ed recommends baetis up to #22. So use the #22 sparkle baetis, RS2's, pheasant tails and any similar small nymphs as droppers. As the day progresses use emergers such as the loop wing emergers #18 - #22 as well as the nymphs. TJ is reporting great success on caddis nymphs fished deep. Below Carbondale where most of the floating is taking place, a variety of streamers are being used as well as caddis and nymphs. BWO's and midges are ubiquitous at the moment.
Recommended Flies: Above Carbondale use the same flies as the Pan (See our report for the Frying Pan). BWO nymphs such as, sparkle baetis #22, RS2 and Sparkle RS2 # 20 - #22, pheasant tails #20 - 22 black and brown, beadhead and non-bead head. BWO emergers such as the special emergers, and loopwing emergers #18 - #22. Also 20 inchers size #10 - #14. Black and olive beadhead streamers are also working. Also egg patterns and worms will work. But keep clear of the redds.
The fishing is good. Try midges, BWO's streamers and 20 inchers. The water color is improving daily. Chris had a great day floating Sunday with his clients. He recommended any nymphs #20 and smaller as he keyed into both baetis and midge hatches.
Recommended Flies: midges, both dries and emergers; pheasant tails #16, 18; BWO's #18,20; small copper johns; 20 inchers size #10 - #14; bead head prince nymph red #12 - 16; egg patterns #10 - #18; streamers #6 and #8 and smaller.