Fryingpan already producing 10-pound rainbows
The Fryingpan River is always a great spring fishery and this year is no exception. Will Sands of the Taylor Creek fly shop in Basalt calls it “superb,” and proved it by catching a 10-pound rainbow in the tailwater below Reudi Reservoir, where giant trout fattened on mysis shrimp are moving into the shallows as they get ready to spawn.
Mysis have not been flushed out of the dam in any great numbers but consistently enough to use one as a lead fly above a midge nymph. Midges are hatching heavily on the upper Pan between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., with good nymph fishing before and after. Also bring Baetis nymphs in very dark olive, almost black, colors. Black Poxyback Baetis, Black BLMs and BTS Baetis nymphs work best.
The upper river has been relatively quiet in terms of numbers of anglers, though fishing pressure will rise as the weather warms and word gets out about good the fishing really is. Crowds are nonexistent on the middle ‘Pan, which fishes best in the afternoon and evening. Upper ‘Pan flies and techniques work here too, but Stoneflies in sizes 12-16 are also starting to fish nicely. Mile markers 6 and 8 are the hotspots on this stretch of river.
For the complete, statewide fishing report, visit http://wildlife.state.co.us/dowfish/index.asp.
Clear Creek (above Hwy. 119) – The upper reaches of this creek are still icy but the lower reaches should start fishing well soon with small dry flies. Best bets at this time of year are Adams, Blue Wing Olives and Black Gnats. A Woolly Bugger is a good standby. This creek harbors all four species of trout – browns, rainbows, cutthroats and brookies.
South Platte River (Waterton Canyon) – Spawning rainbows are hitting on Woolly Buggers in the river above Chatfield Reservoir, with some anglers landing fish of 20 inches or more. Best flies are RS-2 and Pheasant Tail nymphs.
Blue River (below Green Mountain Reservoir) – Fishing in the tailwater beneath Green Mountain Reservoir is excellent with regular midge and Blue Wing Olive hatches. Further downriver, lure casters are doing well at the confluence of the Blue and Colorado Rivers. A 6-pound rainbow was caught there on a No. 7 silver and black floating Rapala Sunday. The tailwater is subject to periodic security closures. There are three other public accesses on BLM land downriver to the confluence with the Colorado, but they are narrow and anglers are warned to stay off adjoining private property. For current conditions call the Fishin’ Hole in Kremmling at (970) 724-9407.
Blue River (Dillon to Green Mtn. Res.) – Fishing in the tailwater section through the town of Silverthorne remains better than average. Nymphing with small, black, olive or red midges has been the most productive. Mysis shrimp and micro eggs patterns also work. Recommended flies: No. 20-24 Biot Midges, JuJuBee Midges, Black Beauties, UV Emergers, Red Disco Midges, Barr’s Red Midge Larvae. Look for a good midge hatch in early afternoon and use small Parachute Adams, Brook Sprouts and Black or Grizzly Midge dries. Between Silverthorne and Green Mountain Reservoir the fishing is less predictable. Larger nymphs such as Beadhead Pheasant Tails, Hare’s Ears, Copper Johns, RS-2s and egg patterns have been catching some fish.
Colorado River (below Parshall) – Warm weather has caused some early runoff, discoloring the water in the afternoon, but fishing remains good. Nymphing is still the way to go with midges and streamers. Look for Blue Wing Olive hatches to accelerate as the weather warms. An eagerly awaited event on these waters is the stonefly hatch, which usually occurs in late May. For current conditions call the Fishin’ Hole in Kremmling at (970) 724-9407.
Colorado River (Glenwood to Rifle) – Recent snowmelt has discolored the water and slowed fishing. The Colorado River in Glenwood Springs is flowing at 1,320 cfs with visibility of about one foot. Expect conditions to improve if the weather becomes more stable. Good Blue Wing Olive hatches have been on the river daily from around 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Best areas to fish are from Glenwood Springs down to New Castle. Caddis and Stonefly nymphs are fishing well as attractor patterns on a two fly nymph rig, with a BWO nymph/emerger as a trailer. Many fish will be found rising midday once the water clears. For current conditions call the Taylor Creek Flyshops at 970-927-4374.
Colorado River (near Granby) – Warmer weather has brought more open water below Windy Gap Reservoir and near Parshall. Trout will hit almost anything but anglers do best with tan and cream Caddis, gray beadhead RS-2s and egg patterns. In the immediate Granby area and downstream to the bridge at the west end of Byers Canyon, bait fishing is also permitted and two fish may be kept.
Fryingpan River – Fishing is red hot. Flow is 76 cfs and clear. Heavy midge hatches are occurring daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. bringing on many risers and making dry fly fishing super productive. Be warned, however, that these picky fish require 7X tippets and tiny flies. Small gray and black midges such as Sprouts, Fryingpan Emergers and Hatching Midges all work well. When nymphing, try a Baetis nymph trailed by a midge emerger such as Poxyback Baetis, BTS Baetis, RS2, CDC Loopwing or Harrops Biot Emerger. Big rainbows are being seen daily with few landed. Overall fishing is exceptional and will only improve with warmer spring weather. For current conditions call the Taylor Creek Flyshops at 970-927-4374.
Green Mountain Reservoir – Ice is beginning to thaw with a little open water by the flume at Elliot Creek. The river coming into the lake is flowing. Ice fishermen are catching kokanee salmon and lake trout on sucker meat and mealworms. Ice-out usually comes at the end of April or early May, and fishing is excellent immediately thereafter. For current conditions call Master Bait and Tackle at (970) 724-3677.
Rifle Gap Reservoir – Ice is off and the lake is open for boating. Fishing is excellent with trout hitting on Rapalas, small spinners, worms, salmon eggs and Power Bait. Park rangers say the hottest fishing is at the east inlet. The lake also harbors sizeable perch (14-inchers are not uncommon), smallmouth bass, pike and walleyes. The bag and possession limit for smallmouths is two fish 15 inches or larger and fish caught between May 1 and June must be released. The bag and possession limit for walleyes is three fish, only one of which may be longer than 18 inches.
Roaring Fork River – The Roaring Fork is clear and flowing at 24 cfs in Aspen, 233 cfs in Basalt and 454 cfs in Glenwood Springs. Fishing is exceptionally good with heavy Blue Wing Olive hatches from Carbondale to Glenwood. Expect to find rising fish from 1 p.m. to around 3 p.m. BWO Parachutes, CDC Comparaduns, Befus’ Paras and Emergers all fish well on the surface. Nymphing is still good with attractor patterns such as Prince Nymphs, Copper Johns, Flashtail Hot Eggs, Golden Stones and 20-Inchers as the lead fly trailed by BWO Nymphs and Midge Emergers. Float fishing is exceptionally good on the lower river. Upriver, from Basalt to Aspen, stick to midge patterns still. For current conditions call the Taylor Creek Flyshops at 970-927-4374.
White River – Snowpack is below average, the river is running clear and not much runoff is expected this year. Anglers have been enjoying great fishing on the river with rainbows up to 25 inches being caught. Best April fishing is from Lake Avery downriver to Meeker. Runoff usually starts clouding the water in mid-May. At this time of year use Beadhead Prince Nymphs, Beadhead Pheasant Tails and Beadhead Gray Hare’s Ears. Look for the first hatches of Blue Wing Olives in mid-April followed by Mayflies around Mother’s Day. For current conditions, call Wyatt’s Sporting Goods in Meeker at (970) 878-4428.
Williams Fork Reservoir – Ice remains thick enough for fishing but look for it to thaw quickly if the weather remains warm. Conditions can change quickly at this time of year and anglers should check ice thickness before venturing out. Most of the action is with lake trout and anglers are asked to leave the rainbows alone until they finish spawning. Look for good pike fishing as the ice recedes. Williams Fork has some big macks of up to 28 pounds. For current conditions call the Fishin’ Hole in Kremmling at (970) 724-9407.
Williams Fork River – Flows are low and clear with minimal releases from the Williams Fork Reservoir and fishing has been excellent with daily midge hatches. Use Zebra Midges, Serendipity nymphs and egg patterns. Look for dry fly fishing to begin in mid-April with the first Blue Wing Olive hatches. Runoff is not a problem since flows are controlled by releases from the dam. For current conditions call the Fishin’ Hole in Kremmling at (970) 724-9407.
Yampa River (Stagecoach through Steamboat) – Fishing is very good in the tailwater below Stagecoach Reservoir with regular midge hatches and a few Blue Wing Olives. Warmer weather has caused some discoloration of the river in downtown Steamboat Springs but this has not affected the fishing. Use gray, olive and red midge imitations in the tailwater; little black stoneflies and BWOs downtown. Several river sections are restricted to flies and lures only and/or catch-and-release. Call the Steamboat Fishing Company at 970-879-6552 for the latest conditions.
Arkansas River No. 3 (Through Pueblo) – This stretch of river is stocked 12 months a year and offers good trout fishing except when there are extremely low or no outflows from Pueblo Dam. The river below the dam has had a lot of habitat improvement from the tailwater to downtown Pueblo, which should make fishing even better this year.
Arkansas River (Buena Vista to Salida) – Blue Wing Olive hatches are beginning to pick up on this section of river, with the stretch from Salida to the mouth of Browns Canyon at Stone Bridge being the most productive. Use BWO patterns and small beadhead nymphs.
Arkansas River (Leadville to Buena Vista) – The fishing between Leadville and Buena Vista is just getting started. Fish are still largely concentrated in winter holding water but will feed during the afternoons on nymphs and occasional midge hatches. Look for Blue Wing Olives to come out in a few more weeks.
Arkansas River (Salida to Canon City) – The Arkansas River is now in full Blue Wing Olive mode from the bottom of Browns Canyon to Canon City. The fish are really moving out to feed and the recent unsettled and cloudy weather has generated some strong hatches – No. 14-18 bugs hatching from about 12:30-3 p.m. These hatches are often localized so if you find bugs or rising fish, stay put and work that area thoroughly. Even on sunny days there are some hatches and very active nymphs. For nymphs use a No. 18 Pheasant Tail, olive Flashback Pheasant Tail, olive Micro Mayfly or WD40. For emergers, an olive surface emerger, RS-2 or Barr emerger work well. On top, a Parachute Adams, Parachute Gulper Special or Brook’s Sprout Baetis.
Gunnison River (below Crystal Dam) – The East Portal has not opened yet but should soon. Last year it opened April 1 but recent snowfall prevented that this year. Flow is 1,900 cfs, water temperature is 38 degrees and clarity is good in the upper reaches, somewhat clouded by early runoff at lower altitudes. When the Portal opens, good early season patterns are midges, Scuds, San Juan Worms, Woolly Buggers and eggs. There’s also a nice baetis hatch in the afternoons. Call the Cimarron Creek fly shop at 970-249-0408 for the latest conditions.
Gunnison River (through the canyon) – Fishing in the Upper Gunnison to Smith Fork has been incredibly good with daily hatches of Blue Wing Olive and many 14 to 24-inch rainbows and browns being caught on nymphs. Best flies include WD-40 and RS-2s emergers, Parachute Adams size 18-20, San Juan Worms, red and zebra Copper Johns and various egg patterns. Flow is 1,200 cfs and clear with water temperatures in the low 40s. The Gunnison River Pleasure Park will soon be offering ferry service to help fishermen access the upper Gunnison. No motorized craft are allowed above the confluence with the North Fork. Other restrictions: Gold Medal Water, catch-and-release, flies and lures only. No rainbows may be kept and the bag limit on brown trout is one over 16 inches and three under 12 inches.