This past week was a study in contrasts. The weatherman predicted that it would rain and get colder with the possibility of some snow. Indeed. He was accurate. By Friday a serious bout of cold weather had set in with the wind blowing and the snow coming in parallel to the ground. It was a shock to the system. Particularly after the first couple of days in the week when the temperature was in the high 60's the Fork jumped 200cfs a day and the Frying Pan tributaries kicked up rapidly. But the cold weather put paid to the rising Fork and caused it to drop back to where it started the week. At one point the Fork was approaching 900cfs at Basalt. But now it is back to 510cfs. That's enough to get anyone's head spinning.
The fish knew something was coming in because they stayed very low in the water and the bugs were affected by the cold snap slowing down the pace of the hatches. The fishing was tough. The dry fly fishing was as slow on the Pan at it has been for a long time. But by Sunday it picked up a little. The prediction is for relatively pleasant and clear weather over the next 4 days with a return of some colder weather and rain by the end of the week. So we will see how accurate the weatherman is in the coming week. But if it is anything like the period just passed, be prepared to dress for winter like conditions. And if the weather is as variable as it has been this past week, the fish might stay low again.
There were a number of fishermen out earlier last week but by the time the cold set in they became scarce with few fishermen along the Pan over the weekend. I was fishing on the flats on Sunday afternoon and saw something quite interesting. A small dead rainbow floated by. Maybe 2 – 3" long. The big rainbows I was fishing to started playing with it. They were like porpoises absent the somersaults. They would take turns grabbing and shaking it for a moment and then drop it. After a while they just got bored and dropped it. An inspection revealed no visible damage or marks. They certainly weren't exercising any pressure when seizing it.
We are still well into the off-season, so if you want to take a chance on the weather, you won't have too much company on the river at the moment. So take care to include some winter fishing gear and something warm in a thermos. As the weather settles though, the hatches should come back with a vengeance and the fish will be due for a big meal or two.
Current Flow: below the Dam 83cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
This past week was challenging. Earlier in the week the fish sensed the changes which were coming in and stayed low, as the barometer dropped. In addition the bugs took some time off so that there were few good hatches. Consequently the dry fly fishing wasn’t up to its usual standard. Best results were nymphing with baetis and midge larvae fished down. Mid river, the fish fed on midges and a few BWO's as they came off, but again they weren't too excited.
By Sunday the weather began to settle and there was some activity on top with the fish taking some midges and baetis. But it wasn't a strong hatch and indicated a further change in the evening which occurred when some more rain blew in. But with the forecast for some reasonably settled weather over the next few days, it should be good fishing. The end of the coming week anticipates some more unsettled weather so it may be time for more winter clothing and wet weather gear.
If the temperature holds in the 50's or 60's despite the rain, the BWO hatches should be fine. The problem this week was the degree to which the temperatures fell and brought snow and cold with the change. But the runoff continues and the flow has kicked up a little over the week to be running at 83cfs near the gauging station. The tributaries are now running higher but at the moment they are very clear. There was another blow out at Seven Castles for a few hours on Saturday as the snow which had fallen on Friday melted off quickly.So overall, the coming week will not be settled if it is anything like this week. The cold temperatures have certainly cleared up the water, but if it warms some more, even though it rains, the BWO hatches should be excellent.
Recommended Flies: The longer days are beginning to be noticed as the sun stays above the high surrounding peaks a little longer each day. If the sun is out try and stay in the light. But if it is heavy and overcast it makes little difference.
There are mostly midge hatches but a few BWO's are starting to come off internittently near the dam. The fish will take tiny baetis nymphs like tiny pheasant tails if they see them enough. So try small black and olive patterns #24 and #26 as well as brassies to get them down. The fish are also taking BWO emergers now, so use the FPA baetis emergers, the sparkle baetis, rs2's and other small emerger patterns.
The midges will come off during the day, particularly if it is sunny. So try WD-40's #20, red and black chironocones #20, brassies #18 - #22, midge larva patterns #18 - #22, copper johns #18 - #22, black polywings #18 - #22 and garcia's rojo midges # 18 - #22. Mike reported great success this week on smaller black midges such as the miracle midge.
As they come off try the gray loopwing emergers #20 - #22, the FPA special emergers, biot emergers both with and without the trailing shuck and gray RS2's #18 - #22. In addition try dry patterns such as the z-wing real midge, suspended midge and any similar dry black and gray patterns in sizes from #20 through to #26, loopwing emergers #20 - #22 and FPA special emergers #20 - #26.
The Fork really ripped it up this week. By midweek the flows at Basalt had kicked up by 400cfs and was colored up, but by Sunday, the flows had dropped all the way back to last weekends flows and the water was in excellent condition above Basalt. So for the moment if it remains cold, the fishing will be excellent above Basalt. But, if it warms quickly it will be back higher up. The good thing though is that given the level the river ran to, it will be clean until it surpasses that level as the debris up to 900cfs level at Basalt will have been moved down. So there is a window for some good fishing over the next few days in the upper reaches. Below Carbondale, forget it.
Recommended Flies: The midges are getting more prolific and larger as we approach spring. In addition to midges, the stone fly nymphs are starting to move about in the water. Beatis are also moving about as well and coming off intermittently. The most reliable results now will be nymphing with eggs, princes, midge emergers, hare's ears, 20 inchers and other attractor patterns.
Even though the flows have dropped in the Fork, the Crystal is still dirty and so the Colorado has had little respite. The best thing is to make a turn at Highway 82 and come up to Basalt for some good water.
Recommended Flies: eggs, attractors, stonefly nyphs, baetis nymphs and midges.