New strategies for fishing in cooling waters
We are now moving into the later part of summer and the easy pickings of late-June and early-July have given way to warier fish that have seen a lot flies and are a little harder to catch.
Early-summer tactics and heavy hatches are being replaced with smaller and less intense emergences of tiny insects and more terrestrial insects like grasshoppers and ants.
With several weeks of overly-hot, dry weather and fairly-low, warm flows behind us we are now seeing flows on the Colorado and Roaring Fork being supplemented with cold reservoir water. This has helped drop water temperatures back into the safe zone for trout. The arrival of monsoon season and frequent heavy rainfalls has also helped keep the Eagle River cool, although these storms may create muddy flows on all area rivers for short periods of time. For now the heat has abated and the fishing has been very good.
The flows on the Eagle have held up well all summer and never really got too warm for our trout. Although float season is over, wade fishermen are doing very well. Local trout are now concentrating in deeper pools and riffles and nymphing are the most effective tactics. Use small flies and plenty of weight. Rising fish can still be found and small, well-drifted dry flies will get the job done. On the lower river near Gypsum, consider using large grasshopper patterns. Also look to the Eagle River Lease just upstream from the town of Eagle for less pressured trout.
Flies: Parachute Adams Nos. 16-22, Black Foam Ant Nos. 12-14, Renegade Nos. 16-20, Barr Emerger Nos. 16-20, Black Beauty Nos. 18-22, Miracle Nymph No. 18
Flows on the upper Colorado have been increased to more than 1,000 cubic feet per second (CFS) and water temperatures have dropped, making for good fishing. Recent storms muddied the water sporadically but the river is now clearing. Wading is not the best option with the higher flows, but fishing from a drift boat allows anglers to cover plenty of water. Hopper dropper fishing has been very good along the banks. Streamers have also been pounding up some large brown trout.
Flies: Noble Chernobyl Nos. 4-10, Schroeder’s Parachute Hopper Nos. 6-12, Red Copper John Nos. 14-18, Rainbow Warrior Nos. 14-18, Rust Slumpbuster Nos. 4-8, Tequeely Nos. 4-8
Roaring Fork River
Increased flows from the Frying Pan River have cooled the Fork significantly. Hatches have tapered off but like the Colorado, the grasshopper fishing with small beadhead nymphs suspended below have been fooling large browns and rainbows. Wade fishermen should head to the miles of public water upstream from Jaffee Park while float fishers have from Basalt to Glenwood to work with.
Flies: Royal and Yellow PMX Nos. 6-12, Tan Fat Albert Nos. 6-10, Yellow Stimulator Nos. 6-10, Iron Lotus Nos. 16-20, Beadhead Hare’s Ear Nos. 16-20.
Area fly fishermen should be aware that Thursday was Colorado Day and The Centennial State turned 137. In that spirit, on Monday, entrance to all of our 42 state parks is free. Many of our state parks offer excellent fly fishing opportunities. Nearby options include Sylvan Lake State Park south of Eagle and Stagecoach State Park south of Steamboat Springs, which have both stream and lake options for trout and northern pike. Harvey Gap State north of Newcastle and Rifle Gap State Park north of Rifle have great warmwater reservoir fisheries for bass, pike, and panfish in additon to trout. These trips are great way to spend time on the water and enjoy the Colorado’s natural resources. Stop by Vail Valley Anglers to check out our extensive warm water and pike fly inventory.
Brody Henderson is a senior guide with Vail Valley Anglers and can be reached at 970-926-0900.