Spring Fly Fishing: Pre Run Off

Spring is an excellent time of year to be fly fishing in Colorado and while the warmer temps can bring higher off color water don’t let it keep you from fishing. Here are a few fly fishing tips that might help you keep the rod bent during pre run off season in Colorado.

Watch the gauge – Generally your highest water levels will be around midnight and start to drop slightly after. The drop will usually continue until the following afternoon when the water will start to come rise again. What you are looking for is consistency. Fish like gradual change not drastic change. If you see a big bump of water chances are you can expect fishing to be a little slow. Give the water some time to level out before heading to the river. You will see these big bumps once we start having warmer weather day after day. This will eventually lead to full on run off. But until then keep an eye on the water gauge and focus your fishing efforts during the drop.

Spring Water Gauge Colorado
Spring Water Gauge Colorado

Water Types – Higher water will move some fish around so be sure to fish areas that you may have over looked a month ago. Shallow riffles and pocket water are now holding a lot of fish, these areas can be really productive especially when streamer fishing. Look for rising fish in slower pockets, pools and seam during the warmer parts of the day. Blue Winged Olives and Midges are dominating the hatch scene right now but expect Caddis to make and appearance real soon. On the right days the dry fly fishing can be some of the best all year.

Flies – Bigger water means we can start introducing larger nymphs and streamers. The faster river overturns rocks and old logs pushing Stonefly Nymphs, Caddis Larvae and Sculpins down the river. Streamer fishing can be excellent this time of year, especially in faster water. Black, Olive, Natural, Yellow and White colored streamers are good spring colors to be moving through the all water types. Nymphing can be lights out as well. Pats rubber leg, Prince Nymphs and SJ Worms are excellent attractor flies trailed by smaller mayfly imitations. As the water continues to rise fish will get pushed to the banks so be sure to fish those close pockets before wading into them.

Pat's Rubber Leg
Pat’s Rubber Leg

Tippet – Beef up your tippet. Fish are not quite as picky with the off colored water so take advantage of it and bring out the 3x-4x. This will help you put the breaks on fish who get out in the faster water and allow you to pull a little harder when bringing that big rainbow to the net.

Colorado Rainbow Trout Caught on #20 Blue Winged Olive Dry Fly
Colorado Rainbow Trout Caught on #20 Blue Winged Olive Dry Fly

Use Your Head – The water gets very dangerous this time of year so whether you are floating our wading keep an eye out for debris floating down the river. Know your limitations and be safe. We often forget how powerful the water can be once it is above your knees, some spots you could cross a month ago are now too deep and taking a swim this time of year could be fatal.

Enjoy Fly Fishing in Colorado this spring and feel free to share some of your favorite Spring fly fishing tips with us. See you on the water.

Colorado: Spring Dry Fly Fishing

We have finally reached the first day of spring and it certainly feels like it. Sunny and 60 in the high country with as much water as you want to fish. While the weather is still unsure what it wants to do, now is the time to take advantage of the warmer weather and unbelievable fly fishing conditions. Our freestone rivers have opened up significantly and you can find fish surfing in the shallow water eating Midges, Small Stones and Blue Winged Olives. While I am still seeing a lot of bobber rigs on the river there is certainly no need to nymph when rising fish are present. The best flies I have found over the last week have been larger Adult Midges as well as Emerging Midge imitations that ride in the surface film. The Blue WIngs are sporadic but when the fish key in on them a size 20 Adams is really all you need. On days when the surface bite is slow nymphing with larger Midge Larvae, Midge Emergers (RS2’s) and small Stones are excellent patterns to be presenting. There is no need to go real deep. A lot of fish have moved in to shallow slicks/ riffles and are suspended. Especially during the afternoon. The Roaring Fork, Eagle And Colorado Rivers are all fishing well and if you are looking for a reason to drive to the high country rising trout and warm weather is a good one. This short video segment was shot on the Eagle River last week and the fishing has continued to impress. With a front moving in over the next few days expect things to slow down a bit. But, once this front passes expect excellent fishing to return.  Fishing Reports on the Front Range are very similar with fish eating on the surface later in the afternoon with a real good nymph bite earlier in the day. Take advantage of the Spring fishing now run-off will be here before we know it.

Colorado: Spring Fly Fishing

Colorado Spring fly fishing can be one of the most productive times of year on the water. As the weather starts to warm and days get a little longer insect activity picks up and fish start to feed a little more heavily then they do during the winter. Hatches comprised of larger Midges and Blue Winged Olives become more consistent and we start to find fish in all types of water. Shallow transitional water will often have fish suspended under the surface eating emerging insect as well as adult flies on the surface. You will also find fish actively feeding in the tail-outs of faster moving water into the slow moving deeper pools that follow.

Rainbow Trout Eating Midges, Colorado Spring Fly Fishing
Rainbow Trout Eating Midges, Colorado Spring Fly Fishing

These conditions offer excellent opportunities to fish dry flies as well as light nymph rigs. Although the fishing can be bonkers at times it does not come without its occasional challenges. One of the biggest challenges you will find is insect size. While Midges and BWO’s tend to be larger in size there are days when the fish are keyed in on much smaller insects and will refuse your larger presentations. For this reason it is important to bring plenty of fly patterns is numerous sizes and colors. Especially when fishing dry flies. The one fly I always trust this time of year is the Roy Palms Special Midge Emerger. I have probably written about this fly numerous times but it a pattern that works when all others are not. I highly recommend grabbing a half dozen of these flies in different sizes and fishing them both wet or dry.

Timing – Angling pressure certainly picks up this time of year and while it helps to get to your favoriteclock spot a little earlier than normal, fishing still remains best during the warmest parts of the day. Midges and Blue Wings start coming off sporadically later in the morning, but the bulk of the hatch is usually around noon – 1pm. during this time you will find the fly fishing picks up significantly. If you are strictly on the river to cast dry flies be patient and wait until you see rising fish before you start blind casting. This can be a test in patience but will pay off in the end.

Set-Up – Much like your winter set-up, your leaders should be long and lean. 5x-6x tippet helps when throwing dry flies to risers in skinny water. You will find that as spring continues water clarity will begin to stain and at that time you can beef up your tippet and start throwing larger caddis and stonefly nymphs. Until then think light and continue to present smaller midge and BWO patterns. If fish are not rising and nymphing is a technique you prefer, start off with a light, shallow nymph rig and fish the water close to the river bank. if you are not successful in these areas adjust your set-up accordingly and move to deeper bends and pools. While it is tempting to dredge the bottom often times a bead-head nymph trailed by an emerging midge pattern is enough weight to find trout in all water types.

Streamers – We all love casting big bugs and moving them through pocket water in anticipation of black_sculpzillathat aggressive trout inhaling our offering. While I encourage you to employ this technique it might still be a little early for great streamer results. Once our rivers start to turn off color and rise a bit more consistently you will find that the streamer bite picks up. Until then focus your streamer fishing on days when there is not a lot of dry fly activity. Keep your streamers small in size and present them in shallow pocket water as well as slower tail outs. Once the water levels rise break out a heavier rod and start splashing those larger sculpzillas wherever you want.

Rainbow Trout – Right now the rainbow trout have their feed bags on and are gearing up for their spawn. While these beauties are fun to catch, spring is spawning time for Rainbow Trout. If you see reeds or fish paired up please leave them alone. You will find spawning trout in shallow slow moving water with a gravel bottom. Give them a wide berth and do not walk on or near their spawning beds. The gravel they kick up is to cover their eggs so we do not want to crush their future..literally. If you see and angler fishing to spawning trout DO NOT be afraid to say something. If they give you a hard time, which they probably will, deal with it like a professional. There is no need to drop the gloves on the river.

Colorado Spring Fly Fishing, Rainbow Trout

No matter where you are fly fishing in Colorado, Spring is a great time to be on the water. Expect fishing to remain consistent until we get our first big push of run-off.

Colorado Fly Fishing Forecast: Spring Run Off


This might be your last weekend to hit your favorite Colorado Freestone River before another round of run off begins.  Our recent cold snap that brought winter like conditions allowed time for our rivers to drop and clear over the last few days. Although the water temps also cooled down the fishing has remained solid and is getting better. Front Rangers take a peak at South Boulder Creek for some close to home fly fishing opportunities. For those who are willing to travel the Roaring Fork and Eagle River are both fishing well. Stoneflies, Caddis and Mayflies have been standard fare as well as streamer patterns. Focus on the soft seams and deeper pockets. parachute_adamsThe BWO’s have started to pop again and fish have been keyed in on them around 2 pm. A size 18-20 Parachute Adams should do the trick if you find a pod of steady risers. Otherwise Pat’s Rubber Leg trailed by a BWO emerger has been a hot set up all week on the Western Slope. Take advantage before the big run off begins. I have a feeling that warm temps are going to come quick and blow us off the river for a couple weeks.

Colorado Fly Fishing Forecast: March

If you have been spending your time on the ski hill this spring and are looking for some new action, dig out the waders and get on the water. Tailwater Rivers, like the Blue and Frying pan, as well as Freestones, like the Eagle and Roaring Fork are fishing great.  This is a great time to catch rising fish in slow water and find aggressive Browns in fast pocket water. hookedupBut, with great fishing comes heavier crowds. I would advise anglers looking for a spot to fish this weekend to get out earlier than you have been. Although the best fishing has been 11am through the afternoon. There are a lot of guided trips getting out earlier and crowding the water. If you do find that your favorite spots have multiple trucks on them don’t get discouraged. Go explore a different part of the river and try a new technique. I find that when the river is crowded it is best to find pocket water and hit all the fishy spots with streamers. You will be amazed at what you will find. Fish that live in these areas do not get the same amount of pressure and tend to be very aggressive. This can also take you out of your element and make you worked harder for your fish and tune up your angling skills.

Egle River Rainbow TroutHot flies have been many BWO nymphs like the Micro May and Bars Emerger as well as RS2’s and JuJu Baetis. If you find a pod of risers a Parachute Adams has been taking a lot of trout rising in slow water. If that gets refused a midge cluster will do the trick. As far as streamers go big and black bugs like the Sex Dungeon and Sculpzilla have been getting a lot of looks. Have fun out there and try exploring new water.

Weekend Outlook: Colorado Fly Fishing Forecast

Spring is definitely trying to make it’s way into the state and with today being the first day of spring I OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAguess it’s here. According to the weatherman there is a fast moving front bringing snow and rain to the mountains and front range Friday night. Why does crap weather always see m to land on the weekend? Anyway, as far as fishing goes you cannot go wrong by just getting out there. The big midges and BWO’s are hatching, the rainbows are paired up ready to spawn and fish are feeding heavily on a variety of bugs. I have been flirting with the idea of Floating the Blue below Green Mountain Reservoir for the past couple weeks, maybe this will be the weekend I pull the trigger. The flows have been steady around 770 CFS for the last couple weeks and fishing should be great if you can hit a warm day. Or it might suck. As they say you never know until you go.  Look for risers in the afternoon, I have been seeing a lot of fish looking up around 2 o’clock. It might be a fun time to try a Tenkara Rod on skinny water. Hell, it’s Spring get out and go fishing it’s all good.

Brown Trout Eating BWO's
Brown Trout Eating BWO’s

Colorado Weekend Fishing Forecast

The fishing reports around Colorado are all positive. The state wide snowpack is above average and with the recent warm weather fishing has been decent all around. The weekend weather is coming into play once again as a system brings snow and rain across the state Thursday thru Saturday. If you can handle a little weather I would pick a river and go. A lot of Tailwater Rivers are flowing above average and are a safe play for consistent fishing. If you are willing to roll the dice, try a freestone like the Eagle or Roaring Fork and pick apart the slower water. This is a good time of year to start using bigger nymph patterns as your lead fly. An egg is also and effective attractor pattern but I sometimes feel like that is cheating. Try using a prince or a 20 incher as your lead fly and see how it fishes. If you are getting blanked you can always go back to the trusty glo bug.



The Rainbow Trout are in pre spawn mode and should be chowing aggressively. If you see fish paired up in shallow water give them their space and stay away from their Redds.

Thats A Spawner. Don't Be That Guy.
Thats A Spawner. Don’t Be That Guy.
"They Don't Spawn After 12"
“They Don’t Spawn After 12”

We saw a fella fishing to spawning fish one day on the Eagle River. We politely mentioned that the fish were spawning in that particular area and continued to float by. The dude looked up with crazy lethal weapon eyes, glanced at his watch and said ” They don’t spawn after 12.” We were speechless. It is getting to be that time of year when the rivers really start to come to life. If you are sick of staring at the bobber, try some dries or shorten that leader and throw a streamer. Have fun out there.