FISHING REPORT: Dry flies duping fish up and down the Arkansas
The Arkansas River has not been deluged with rain like further north. Runoff has subsided, the water is crystal clear and offers the best dry fly fishing on the Eastern Slope as summer hatches get into high gear. Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies and evening caddis are all keeping the fish on top, and Gray Drakes are about to make an appearance in the upper river. Drakes only hatch upriver of Buena Vista. Rod Patch of the Arkansas River Fly Shop says he has never seen them downriver. The upper river is also ideal for wading with flows of 133 cfs near Leadville, 230 cfs in Hayden Meadows and 510 cfs in the Granite Gorge. For dries use No. 16 Black Foam Caddis, No. 14-16 Parachute Adams and the same size yellow Stimulators. Nymphs: No. 16 Copper Johns, Beadhead Pheasant Tails and Soft Hackle Tungsten Pheasant Tails.The middle and lower Arkansas from Buena Vista to Salida and on down to Canon City is flowing at 845 cfs, still a little fast for wading though it can be done if you’re careful. Float trips are the ticket here with Golden Stones and Yellow Sallies coming off throughout the day, a strong evening caddis hatch and sporadic mayfly activity. Patch recommends No. 12-14 yellow Foam Stoneflies, yellow Stimulators and PMXs. For dry/dropper trailers, use No. 14-16 Beadhead Copper Johns and No. 12-14 Golden Stone and Yellow Sally nymphs.How does Patch rate the fishing? On a float trip, he says, an angler adept at making 25 to 30-foot casts can “reasonably expect to hook 50 fish a day, and a wader can expect to catch four to six fish per hour. Both ways, 80 percent of the action is on dries.” Denver MetroClear Creek (above Hwy. 119) – Rain muddies the creek and slows fishing but mornings can be good for flycasters. Use Woolly Buggers, Floatin’ Fool, Orange Ashers and Renegades, all dry. For nymphs try a Pheasant Tails, Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear or Bead Head Caddis Worm. Clear Lake – Somewhat discolored this past week but still fishing well. Power Bait works for rainbows and small nightcrawlers or a Caddis fly for brookies. Best in the mornings, but some action on cooler afternoons. South Platte River (Waterton Canyon) – Wet flies work well in the canyon. Recommended nymphs: Brassies, Royal Red Brassies, Beadhead Pheasant Tails and Mercury Blood Midges. In the stretch immediately above the parking lot, bait fishers do well with small nightcrawlers. Special restrictions apply on many sections of the South Platte; see Page 68 of the fishing regulations. NorthwestBlue River (below Green Mountain Reservoir) – River is running low, slow and clear, but fishing is only fair. Anglers say there are too many bugs competing with their flies: caddis, PMDs, grasshoppers and Blue Wing Olives on cloudy days. Use No. 14-16 Elk Hair Caddis, a No. 10 Joe’s Hopper or No. 18-20 BWO. The tailwater beneath the dam 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. Blue River (Dillon to Green Mtn. Res.) – The flow from Dillon Reservior remains clear at 52 cfs. The best action in Silverthorne is nymphing with No. 22-24 midge larva. Unsettled weather has produced some good action on BWO, Midge and small Caddis dries. If you fish downriver from Silverthorne, the closer to Green Mountain Reservoir the better. Good Caddis action in the afternoons and evenings and look for Green Drakes to start showing soon. Colorado River (below Parshall) – River has been discolored by rain, and flows have risen to 420 cfs, but fishing remains good with Caddis, Pale Morning Duns and Yellow Sallies hatching all the way from Radium to Parshall. Use No. 14-16 tan caddis patterns, No. 18-20 PMDs and No. 16 Yellow Sally. Colorado River (Glenwood to Rifle) – The Colorado is running clear green and flowing at 3,890 cfs in Glenwood Springs. Green Drakes are hatching daily, especially during last light, and are most prolific from Glenwood downriver to New Castle. There are also good midday hatches of Pale Morning Duns and Caddis. Nymphing is productive in the slow pockets, along the banks, and in the seams. Good dry flies include Royal Wulffs, Parachute Drakes, Drake Sparkleduns, Stimulators, 20-Inchers, Stalcups Drake Emerger, BH Princes, Sunken Spinner, Electric Caddis, BH P-Tails and Sparkle Pupae. Colorado River (near Granby) – Runoff has increased with daily rain showers, current flow is 300 cfs and the river is fishing well. Nymphs and midges still work and surface action is starting to pick up with Parachute Adams and Elk Hairs leading the way. Dry/dropper rigs, Stimulators and Irresistibles also work and larger patterns are getting hits. Many different hatches are now in progress. In the immediate Granby area and downstream to the bridge at the west end of Byers Canyon, bait fishing is permitted and two fish may be kept. Elkhead Reservoir – Lake has cleared and crappie fishing is very good. Some of the fish run up to 14 inches. Smallmouth bass are also moving into the shallows to spawn and pike fishing remains fair to good. Yellow jigs with a red head work best for crappie. Buzzbaits, Rapalas and Mepps Black Furies all catch pike, Most bass are being caught on jigheads with chartreuse Twister tails. Limit for smallmouth and largemouth bass is two fish at least 15 inches long Fryingpan River – The river is clear and flowing at 110 cfs below Ruedi Reservoir. Early summer hatches have begun with Pale Morning Duns and Caddis most prolific on the middle and lower river. There is still good BWO, Midge and Mysis Shrimp activity below the dam. Best dry fly fishing has been from noon until 4 p.m. Good Rusty Spinner fishing can be had towards dusk on the lower river. Hot patterns include Pink PMD Sparkleduns, Harrops Thorax PMD, PMD Cripples, Little Yellow Caddis, Stimulators, BWO No Hackles, BWO Sparkleduns, Poxyback Baetis Pheasant Tails, BLMs, Harrops Biot Captive Duns, and Electric Caddis. Grand Lake – Trout fishing for rainbows remains good at the river inlet, channel mouth and near the boat ramp. Panther Martins and most other spinners as well as salmon eggs, worms and Power Baits all catch fish. Some lake trout are being caught on sucker meat and large spoons. Trolling is a good option. The lake level remains full. Bag and possession limit for lake trout is 4 fish, only one of which may be over 36 inches. Until June 30, all lake trout between 26 and 36 inches must be released. Many small feeder streams, where there is public access, have good brook trout populations. Green Mountain Reservoir – Lake level continues to rise and was given a considerable boost by last week’s rain. Fishing is good. Boaters have been doing well with lures of all kinds while shore fishermen do best with salmon eggs and worms. Best fishing is by the inlet around the McDonald Flats. Rifle Gap Reservoir – The lake level is 35 feet below capacity. There is still 30 feet of boat ramp for launching boats but a sharp dropoff at the end of the ramp necessitates caution. Perch fishing is excellent using worm harnesses and silver Panther Martins. The fish average 8-9 inches long. The hotspot is near the dam. Crappie fishing has also picked up along the dam using on brown crappie jigs. Trout fishing has slowed, though some are still being caught at the southeast and west end of the reservoir. The best baits are worms, popcorn shrimp or Power Bait. Upstream at Rifle Falls, brown trout bite well in the afternoons on black flies and worms and rainbows are hitting on spinners. Rio Blanco Lake – Pike fishing is very good, as this lake’s local pike population has been augmented by fish removed from the Yampa River. Anglers report seeing some real jaw-droppers but haven’t been able to land any. Crappie and bluegill are hitting very well on small white and yellow jigs with Twister tails. Chartreuse was the best color over the weekend. Roaring Fork River – Fishing on the Fork has been outstanding lately. Green Drakes are hatching daily in good numbers from Carbondale down to Glenwood Springs and there are good hatches of PMDs and Caddis along with some smaller stoneflies. The whole river is clear with great visibility, flowing at 1,120 cfs in Basalt and 2,430 cfs in Glenwood. Best fishing time has been afternoon til dark. Good patterns include Royal Wulffs, Green Drake Sparkle Duns, H&L Variants, BDE Drakes, Pink PMD Sparkleduns, BH Princes, 20-Inchers, Lite Brite Caddis and BH P-Tails. White River – Rain swelled the river last week but it is dropping again with flows of 745 cfs near Buford and 480 cfs near Meeker. Flyfishers are having good topwater action with Caddis and Irresistibles. Also try Adams, yellow Stimulators, black Woolly Buggers and Royal Coachmen. Williams Fork Reservoir – Anglers are catching a lot of trout in the inlet using No. 7 Rapalas in rainbow trout, black and silver or red and white colors. Pike fishing is good using red and white Dardevles or whole shiners. Quite a few lunkers have been pulled out of the fingers on the west side. Kokanee are hitting well on trolled Needlefish and Wedding Rings in 18 to 20 feet of water. Lake trout have moved into much deeper water and few have been caught lately. Williams Fork River – Running very low at 17 cfs and fishing is poor. Caddis and Pale Morning Duns are hatching regularly but fish are spooky because of the clear water. Fishing should improve if Williams Fork Reservoir fills up and begins releasing more water. Yampa River (Stagecoach through Steamboat) – Fishing is consistently good in the tailwater below Stagecoach Reservoir with midges and evening Caddis. Nymphs: No. 20 Beadhead Pheasant Tail, green or blue Copper John, No. 20-22 black RS-2 or No. 18 Barr’s PMD. Dries: Parachutes, Sparkle Duns and PMD Emergers. Flow in downtown Steamboat Springs is 623 cfs with hatches of PMDs, Yellow Sallies and caddis. Dry fly action in the evenings has been great. Use PMD dries and emergers, No. 16 Pablo’s PMD Cripple, Chuck’s Trude and yellow Stimulators. In dry/dropper rigs, use Hare’s Ear and Prince Nymphs, Green Caddis pupa or chartreuse Copper John trailers. Several river sections are restricted to flies and lures only and/or catch-and-release. See Page 78 of the regulations. Call the Steamboat Fishing Company at 970-879-6552 for the latest conditions. SoutheastArkansas River No. 3 (Through Pueblo) – Flows beneath Pueblo Dam are moderate and clear, and fishing for trout is good to excellent. This section of river has been repeatedly stocked. Arkansas River (Buena Vista to Salida) – Flow near Salida is 844 cfs. Golden Stones and Yellow Sallies continue to be very active. There is also a strong evening caddis hatch and sporadic mayfly activity. Arkansas River (Leadville to Buena Vista) – The upper river is clear and flowing at 133 cfs near Leadville, 230 cfs in Hayden Meadows, 510 cfs in the Granite Gorge and 824 at Nathrop. Stoneflies are active as well as tan caddis. Wading conditions are great up here. Arkansas River (Salida to Canon City) – Flows have risen to 845 cfs and the water is somewhat off-color but very fishable. Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies, mayflies and evening caddis are all happening. The brush is full of hoppers. This is some outstanding fishing. Clear Creek Reservoir – Fishing remains good for stocked trout, which seem to be most active from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and again in early evening. Use Power Bait, worms or a Montera’s Marvel with a KP dark olive leech dropper. Elevenmile Reservoir – Pike fishing is fair to good in the weed beds at Parking Lot and Corral Coves. The mayfly hatch is still in progress and trout fishing is fair using pink or chartreuse Imperial Magic, rubber worms, night crawlers, egg patterns or orange Power Bait. Boaters do best at the west end of the lake; shorecasters at Lazy Boy and the Back Country peninsula. Salmon fishing is good in the deeper water around the northeast corner of Deer Island. Use white or brass Needlefish, Dick Nites or Krocodiles. South Platte River (btwn Spinney and Elevenmile) – Flow is 239 cfs and fishing is very good with hatches of baetis, Tricos, hoppers and Mayflies. Use No. 18-20 Chironimids, No. 18-22 UFOs, scuds or San Juan Worms. SouthwestGunnison River (below Crystal Dam) – Flow is 370 cfs and clear, so fish are spooky. Thus, fishing is a bit more technical. There are hatches of PMDs, Yellow Sallies and Caddis from Chukar down to the forks. A double-nymph rig works best during non-hatch periods. Fishing is slowest at midday with full sun. Mornings and late afternoons are better if you fish the shade lines. Dries: No. 14 Stimulator and Elk Hair Caddis, No. 16 Yellow Sally, Caddis, PMD and Adams. Nymphs: No. 10 Halfback, No. 20-26 midges (larva, pupa and emerger phases), Pheasant Tails, Flashback PTs and beadhead versions, Copper Johns, Woolly Buggers. Call the Cimarron Creek Fly Shop at 970-249-0408 for updates. Gunnison River (through the canyon) – Flow through the canyon is 365 cfs and fishing has slowed. Low water and 99-degree weather have not helped. But Golden Stones are hatching along with Yellow Sallies, PMDs and at least four types of Caddis. Dry/dropper rigs work best. Use a No. 16 Caddis or Yellow Sally in front, a No. 16-18 chartreuse Copper John or Flashback Pheasant Tail behind. The North Fork is down to wadeable levels. 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. No motorized craft are allowed above the confluence of the North Fork and Gunnison Rivers.
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