Winter is back and finding a place to fish isn’t hard at all. There are a lot of people in the resort towns for the holidays so you have a good chance of spotting some sweet fur coats should you fish around places like Aspen, Vail and Steamboat. We have been getting quite a bit of snow in the mountains so you might have to blaze a trail to access some of the rivers in the high country. That being said the skiing is very good and most folks will be chasing the “POW POW” so you should have the river to yourself. The front range has been a bit warmer so if you do not want to deal with skier traffic and cold temps try fishing near Pueblo for good fishing and warmer weather. Fish are still midging for the most part but some small BWO and Stoneflies will also take some fish under the surface. Various colors of midges have been doing well for me but Red, Purple and Black colors have been the money makers. The warmer parts of the day have been the best fishing on rivers like the Eagle and Roaring Fork. Fish have moved into the deep holes so banging bottom with your nymph rig we be a good way to prospect. Do not be surprised to see some surface activity later in the day. This is a good time to remove the bobber and go head hunting for risers. The renegade is a good midge cluster pattern but I like the Roy Palms Special Emerger for fish midging on the surface. Just make sure you gink it up real well or it will sink on you pretty quickly. Enjoy the weekend.
When I think of my winter fly box I get depressed. A bunch of tiny flies my eyes can barely. Midges, Midges and Midges. Then of course there are the eggs. The standard setup you will see on a guides rod this time of year is a bobber, a weight and egg trailed by a midge. This setup works very well and I am sure I have a rod rigged with that setup right now. But if you are looking for something a little different look for these few patterns next time you’re in the shop.
Number one the Micro May. This little guy rocks on those warmer winter days when the water temps warm up. If you fish over on the Roaring Fork River you know exactly what I am talking about. The micro may is an excellent lead fly. Trail a Midge Emerger behind it and watch your bobber dance.
Number two Roy Palms Special Emerger. Fish it wet or fish it dry. This goofy looking little fella with an orange shuck has put dollar bills in my pocket. Originally designed for the Frying Pan River but works everywhere.
Number Three RS2. If you don’t have any of these in your box stop reading now and go buy them. Black, Grey or Olive this is a fly I buy or tie by the dozens. A simple bug but very very effective on tailwater and freestone rivers alike.
These flies are not in specific order just how they came to mind. They are all good flies and ones that I always have in my box. Next time you are shopping for Colorado Winter Flies throw some of the above in your fly box. You will not be disappointed.
With all the recent snowfall over the past 10 days what are you going to do this weekend? Hit the lift lines or enjoy a quite river. That is a tough call but with two days off I am sure you can find time for both. If you find yourself in the Vail Valley much of the Lower Eagle River is open and fishing well. The “hood” on the Lower Eagle has easements and a lot of water to fish. Bring your midges but don’t be afraid to dredge some bigger bugs down deep. I will be on the Eagle for the next couple days so you might run into me.
If your are in Aspen, the The Roaring Fork River has been weather dependent. The upper stretches have some ice and fishing has been slow. I would still give it a go if you are in the Roaring Fork Valley. Tie on a MIcro May Nymph and hit the pockets on the upper river. The Frying Pan is rocking as normal. Get there early. With the weather forecast being sunny and warm I am sure the Frying Pan will be busy.
Front Rangers the South Platte River is fishing decent. The flows below Eleven Mile have bumped a bit which should get some fish and aquatic insects moving around. Blue-winged olives and midges should get you a tug on the string.
Wherever you go have fun and be safe. You can always check the fly fishing reports when you are looking for river updates.
Fly Fishing during the winter months in Colorado can be a great time to be on the water. Although many of our freestone rivers tend to freeze, an angler can find open water on one of our many Tailwater Rivers like the Frying Pan, Yampa, Blue or Southplatte.
Although we are blessed with these waters they are not always the closest stretches to reach. Often times these rivers can be a couple hours or more away. And since they are open and boast large numbers of fish they also attract a lot of anglers. There is nothing worse than making a long drive to find the river extremely crowded. If a tailwater is on your winter fishing list I would recommend leaving early and staking your claim. Bundle up too. A lot of these tailwater rivers are in shaded areas and only get so much sun (if any) a day.
Be sure to check the reports before heading to the river. Although the flows of a tailwater tend to stay steady during the winter the hatches can vary and fishing can slow down during a damn release or shut down. These cold clean rivers can be very rewarding to a hearty angler who can bear the cold during the long winter. Tailwater fisheries have an abundances of insect life and keep the resident trout fat and happy, even during the coldest winter months. With all the aquatic insect life to choose from these fish can be very picky as well. Having a box full of midges in a many different colors can make the difference between a banner day and a mediocre one. Like above mentioned the water is also very very clear so having tippet in the 5x-7x range is a must. Sometimes using a lighter rod is beneficial when using lighter tippet, but that is another discussion. A lot of these tailwater fisheries have trout in the 8-10 lb range with even bigger trout being caught each year.
The Frying Pan and Taylor River are both famous for it’s large Mysis fed trout. Nymphing is a great technique employed during the cold of winter, but midge hatches can be prolific giving the fly angler the opportunity to catch fish on small dry flies during the winter. If the snow brings you to Colorado for the skiing don’t over look the fly fishing. It is a good way to skip the lift lines and ice down your tired legs after hitting the hill. You might even get lucky and land the trophy trout you see in magazines.
The skiing certainly is not there so you might as well hit the river this weekend. After our serious amount of snowfall before Thanksgiving, winter decided to take a break and grant us with spring like conditions in the Mountains. This is not great for the ski industry or our snowpack but until the white stuff falls the only thing we can do is enjoy the sunny weather. Despite the warm mid-day temps the over night lows have been very cold putting some slush in the rivers early in the morning. So do not jump out of bed to be the first one on the river. Fly Fishing this time of year is much better from 11 am to 2 pm. I feel like a broken record but nymphing with an egg midge combo still is going to get your bobber to wiggle. If you are sick of staring at the goat nut try swinging midge emergers in shallow tail outs. This can be very effective especially if fish are suspended. This is a good way to break up the monotony of nymph fishing and you can usually just swing what you are nymphing with. Take the bobber and weight off and start casting 45 degrees down stream and wait for the grab….BRO. You will certainly lose more fish than you hook but it is fun to feel a fish tapping your fly. Skiing is lame go fly fishing.
This seems like the craziest time of the year and finding time to get out to the river seems to vanish. The shorter days and colder temps drastically shrink the amount of time you have to “goof off.” If you find some time to fish this weekend you can always kill two birds with one stone by fishing the Blue in Silverthorne, The wife can do some shopping while you make a few casts for spooky rainbows through town. When you are finished spooking every fish in the river swing by Murdoch’s for some man shopping. The weather has been quite mild around the state so most drainages should be void of ice. I would keep your eye on the weather as things can rapidly change and when this happens, it has been my experience that, the fishing slows way down prior to a front moving in. The egg midge combo is still getting the bobber to shake and will continue to do so for months to come. On warmer days look for heads eating small midges off the surface. A trusty old Griffiths Gnat is a good one to carry around for this scenario.
I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving yesterday and that you got to spend it with family and friends. The weather up in the Mountains is sunny and low 40’s giving us some excellent angling opportunities. The midge bite on the Eagle River is solid and fish seem to be willing to play from noon until 230. Once the sun starts to dip the bite slows down and temperatures drop quickly. Reports coming from the Arkansas below Pueblo have been great with a lot of fish being caught on the tailwater section. This is a very popular winter fishing location so do not be surprised to see a parking lot full of cars. Do not get discouraged if this is the case. There is plenty of water to explore if you are willing to walk down stream. Nymphing is going to be your best bet whether you are fishing a tailwater or freestone. Your lead bug can be a bit bigger and have some flash on it so it catches the eye of those pesky trouts but your trailing bug should be something “midgey” and tiny. Try to pay attention to bug activity if you can. While nymphing deep can be productive during the winter months do not overlook fish holding higher in the water column eating emerging insects. Take advantage of this warm weather and hit the river. Make that turkey sandwich to go.
Vail Ski Resort opens tomorrow so all the skiers and snowboarders will surely be packing the I-70 corridor to hit the hill for opening weekend. If that isn’t reason enough for you front ranger anglers to stay on the front range our rivers up here on the hill are pretty much frozen. Cold temps over the last couple weeks have really shrunken our rivers up high and with more snow in the forecast I wouldn’t expect them to open up much in the near future. For now your best bet is going to be fishing tailwaters. Although things have been cold the fishing reports coming from the Blue, the Frying Pan and the South Platte have all been good. The fish have moved into their winter lies and are primarily feeding on midge imitations. Bobber fishing the deep holes with an egg and a midge is probably going to be your set-up until next April. Don’t be afraid to try some wacky patterns out there, I found a bunch of off the wall midge patterns in the 25 cent bin a few years ago and they absolutely rocked the fish. Of course they didn’t last long but it goes to show that throwing odd flies can sometimes be the hot ticket. If you are heading up the hill to ski Vail is opening 540 acres of terrain and expected to open more with the big system that is “supposed to dump 4 feet bro.” We’ll see about that.
I will be out of town for the rest of the week so I figured a post for a fly fishing report might give you some insight for Colorado fishing this week. Cooler temperatures are expected for the beginning of the week and warming back up to the 50’s by the weekend. We have gotten some snow in the high country and as this melts with warming temps it will cool down some drainages significantly and could also turn the water off color. This will slow fishing down and have fish keying in on smaller midge imitations. If you have the time and can get to a tailwater now is a good time to do it. The water temps should be more stable and the insect activity more consistent. Recent reports on the Yampa River below Stagecoach have been good with a lot of fish being caught in deeper riffles and pools. Nymphing will be your primary technique although you might be able to find a few rising in slower pools. As most tailwaters the fish on the Yampa are very educated and can be picky at times. For this reason it is good to cary a number of midge and mayfly patterns in various colors. Lately Gray RS2 emergers, WD-40s, Miracle Nymphs and Scuds have been working well on the Yampa. Try not to have cement feet especially if the crowds are light. Although the section below Stagecoach is small fish hold in all types of water and can be caught in a lot of places. If for some reason the water gets off color for a few hours try moving Streamers in some of the deeper pockets. Some of my best days on the Yampa have been with small Olive and Natural colored streamers. You will only get a few shots in one hole so moving is a must if your choose this route. Dress warm it can get real cold when the sun dips behind the hill.
Happy Halloween to all you spooky anglers out there. Where you fly fishing this weekend?
Winter might rear it ugly head for a couple days this weekend so staying close to the front range might be the better fly fishing choice. Arkansas River Fly Fishing Reports have been rock solid with a lot of Blue Winged Olive activity near Salida and South. Flows are low and clear but the Brown Trout are real aggressive chowing BWO’s and streamers. If you go try nymphing with a bead head prospecting nymph like a pheasant tail or prince then trail a BWO or midge emerger behind. This has been a good set-up during the cooler parts of the day. Once the water warms expect to see the fish get a bit more aggressive. This is a good time to start head hunting with dries or move streamers through pocket water. Saturday is supposed to be the better weather day so get out and enjoy before everything turns to midging under a bobber. Hot patterns to have would be sparkle wing RS2, Barrs BWO emerged, Small Black Sculpzilla and Natural Slump Buster.