The Bureau pushed up the Pan a little this week to settle at 324cfs. This was in response to a call by the US Fish and Wildlife service to seek preservation of their endangered fish down near Grand Junction. At 324cfs the Pan is near the upper limit of a comfortable level. It is still wadable in the wider sections and there are sufficient nature structures in the water to slow and divert the flow at the levels for good fishing. In the narrower sections it is possible to only fish the edges or the bigger structures and the wading is more difficult.
The higher flow has also augmented the Fork a little below Basalt which also serves to keep the water temperature down. The weather in the coming week promises to remain clear for a day or so and then revert to the patterns of bright clear mornings with cloud cover developing in the afternoon and possible showers and storms. The clouds in the afternoon always provide some very welcome relief from the hot sun when the temperatures move into the 80's.
We are well into the Summer season now and with schools about to begin to start the new year the families will soon dissipate to leave the fishermen who come up to enjoy the cooler temperatures as we move towards autumn and the less trafficked streams and rivers. Shortly the early season ski tickets will come on sale reminding us that no sooner than we start to comment consistently on the hot temperatures and the welcome relief of a cool change than the beginning of the ski season is closer than we would care to admit. But never mind. There is ample excellent weather and fishing to come between now and November.
So if you are coming up for the first time, or you would like a few new ideas, call or come into the shop and have a chat with our guides. We have a policy this summer to have at least 2 guides on hand at most times to answer questions and give advice. They will be able to answer most of your questions or give you the most up to date assessment of the fishing conditions.
We have some more great photos this week so here is a good place to start.
Current Flow: below the Dam 324cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
The Bureau fiddled with the flows this week pushing the releases up to 365cfs before immediately adjusting them back to 324cfs. The adjustments put off the fish for a day as the colder water slowed the hatches and the fish remained lower wondering what on earth was going on. But a day later and the fish moved back into their rhythm feeding along the edges and in the more obvious quieter areas. At this level the Pan offers still great fishing. The flow increases a little more closer to Basalt because of the few tributaries and springs which constantly feed it so near the confluence with the Fork the water is hard to wade in the narrower sections.
But generally it is great fishing with the fish spreading out more in the higher water and tending to move to the edges in the pocket water. It is great fishing in these conditions.The drakes are coming off strongly at the moment and the dry fly fishing for them is excellent towards the dam. There are still a few coming off lower down and the fish will still respond to drake patterns offered in the faster water and along the edges. The PMD's, BWOs and midges and coming off well throughout the day offering a variety of hatches as the fishing proceeds. The fishing is best earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon so if you have ample time to allocate to the water, take a break during the hottest part of the day to get ready for the later afternoon.
Recommended Flies: There are now midges, PMD's Caddis and BWO hatches to choose from. The drakes are coming off up most of the way up now.
There is a morning and an evening PMD hatch. Currently the fish are taking emergers #16 and #18 fished down. Try Barrs emergers, the bubbleback, and the FPA PMD beadtail emergers. In addition try the comparadun pmd, the grizzly wulff and the fpa special pmd emerger.
For caddis try the elk hair #14 and #16 olive as well as emergers.
For baetis, the fish will take tiny baetis nymphs like tiny pheasant tails. So try small black and olive patterns #18 - #22 as well as brassies to get them down. The fish are also taking BWO emergers, so use the FPA baetis emergers, the sparkle baetis, rs2's and other small emerger patterns. In addition for dry fly activity try adams, extended bodies, matthews and parachute adams. Lighter colored bodies such as the grizzly wulff will also serve as PMD 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.
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.
For drakes, try the straw wing emerger #12 and when the fish are rising to the natural try the hairwing dun, the wulff patterns and the flavilinea. We have nearly 400 drake patterns in the shop so there should be something no-one else has tried that day.
The Fork lifted a little this week when the Pan releases were increased. But now it has come back under 600cfs. The water condition above Carbondale is excellent but during the week some rain up the Crystal Valley dropped some color in below Carbondale interfering with the fishing. The Colorado remains well off color. So for the moment there is floating from Basalt to Glenwood. Basalt will require a raft and a light passenger cargo if one wants to have a relatively comfortable journey. The best fishing is in the mornings and later evening with the middle of the day when it is hottest slowing the fishing down a deal. If cloud cover blows in as promised later in the week, the fishing should be better in mid afternoon than if bright hot days persist.
Although we are at the height of the season, there a plenty of places to access the Fork with little traffic. It is just a matter of walking a little to get away from the traditional 3 minute distance from the car and there will be little competition. So now be prepared to walk a little and make inquiries. There are a number of accesses not well mapped which are amenable to good fishing. If you are new to the area drop by the shop. We have guides on hand at all times who have just been or are just going out onto the river so they will give you up to date reports on the fishing.So in the coming week, watch the weather. If it rains again up the Crystal Valley the Fork will be off color below Carbondale again and the best course will be to come to Basalt and make a decision from there.
Recommended Flies: Try baetis, midges and PMD nymphs in the morning. In addition in quieter areas where there are a lot of midges coming off, try black and gray midge emergers. Try small baetis nymph patterns such as pheasant tails #18 - #24. Baetis emergers try RS2, the crystal hunchback, juju baetis, the mighty mite, icebreakers and the FPA sparkle baetis - #18 - #24.
As the day progresses in the faster water try caddis emergers and dries with baetis and PMD emergers. Try Barrs emergers, the bubbleback, and the FPA PMD beadtail emergers.
In the evenings try big stimulators and drake dries as the drake hatch comes off higher up abover Basalt. The drake hatch continues to move up river. So take dries and emergers along as well as drake nymph patterns.
If you are floating try streamers, particularly heavier flies with enough weight to get down quickly.
The Colorado remains an unsatisfactory option at the moment with the recent rains leaving it colored up and in dark condition. It is starting to clear but it not really worth the effort if you have come a long way to fish pristine waters. So for the moment just turn onto Highway 82 and come up to Basalt.
Recommended Flies: The best result will be from nymphing although the evenings have been affording some nice dry fly activity. For nymphs try baetis and pmd nymphs as well as stones. In addition with the yellow sallies, try smaller stone nymphs. Interestingly a lot of crane flies have been flying around earlier than usual so terrestrials should be considered if the weather remains hot dry and windy. So try hoppers, beetles and cricket patterns.