It has been snowing well and it is snowing as I write. Aspen reports 31" on the mountains in the last 48 hours with a 51" base. Fantastic for skiing. Not all of the mountains are open yet but it is happening quickly. Next weekend Highlands and Buttermilk will open. With all the new terrain on Highlands, it will be a great season if this snow keeps up. It will also be excellent for the water table and the fishing. Its early days but great to be able to think about a great winter and high rivers again next year.
The weatherman is calling for additional snow and cloud cover for the next 3 days. The fishing has been good with no pressure. Its now principally eggs and midges. Its also 3 weeks to the shortest day of the year. As soon as that passes one can start to count the days again to spring. The snow on the mountains has pushed a lot of the deer and bighorn sheep down onto the Frying Pan Road so a combination of ice and a group of bighorns makes for careful driving. We have put an aerator into the Seven Castles pond this year to see if the fish will survive. Its fed by ground water and traditionally when it freezes over the water coming in doesn’t bring in enough oxygen. If the fish survive with the aerator it will be great. We make the pond available to the guides to take novice clients if they want to learn or to practice casting for an hour or so before they get onto the river.
We are starting to get into the Christmas spirit. If you want an idea for a gift, give the team in the shop a call. We have a range of items which may be of interest.
Current Flow: below the Dam 91cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
The fish are in full winter mode, but the higher water is excellent and so far is keeping the river very clear of ice. It has been cold enough to start to freeze but the flow has kept that down so far. It is early in the season, but it is a good omen. This time last year there was anchor ice in the river with the lower flow. It was also colder then. This year the snow and cloud cover takes the worst edge off the cold.It is now midges, and maybe a few eggs.
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 midge activity when the sun warms things a little although there has not been much activity in the snowy conditions. As the sun gets lower, in the narrow Frying Pan Valley your principal goal will be to find where the sun gets on to the water. Spot the fish feeding as they will not move far laterally to take midges. Try midge larva and pupa before the hatch starts. When the fish begin to feed under the surface, try small emergers; olive biot emergers, size #18 - #22 and black special emergers #18 - #22. Small copper johns are working well. On the surface, use midge dries with emergers in the film as a dropper. The fish are still on the redds although the spawning season has passed its peak already, so egg patterns will work well.
The river is very clear and the water level is fluctuating a little but is in the mid 300s. It is running at about 100cfs higher than the same time last year indicating how much more moisture is about.Ed floated below Basalt and advised excellent fishing with both midges and egg patterns. Below Carbondale where most of the floating is taking place, a variety of streamers are being used as well. Try both black and olive colors.
Recommended Flies: Use the same flies as the Pan (See our report for the Frying Pan). Generally try midge patterns - larva, pupa and emergers. For variety try very small baetis nymph patterns. Copper johns always work well now, the smaller the better. Black and olive beadhead streamers are also working. Also egg patterns. But keep clear of the redds.
The water color remains good as the falling level is aided by the colder weather. The fishing is good. Try midges, BWO's streamers and 20 inchers. Also try any nymphs #20 and smaller contemplating both midges and BWO's.
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.