Latest report: ‘Fishing is good and improving daily’
The crowds of summer are gone, there’s plenty of elbow room on three of Colorado’s premier trout rivers and the best of fall fishing is just now getting started. The Fryingpan, Roaring Fork and Crystal Rivers are within easy driving distance of each other and offer a great one-two-three punch for September.Flows out of Ruedi Reservoir have increased to 211 cfs, flushing concentrations of Mysis Shrimp into the Fryingpan and creating some great tailwater fishing. Further downstream, a broad mix of hatches includes Green Drakes, Flavs, Pale Morning Duns and Blue Wing Olives. While fish are still feeding on hoppers and other late summer terrestrials, they are starting key in on smaller fall insects like the BWOs.Says Will Sands of the Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt: “Fishing is good and improving daily.”It’s the same story on the Roaring Fork. With flows of 54 cfs in Aspen, 308 cfs in Basalt and 614 cfs in Glenwood Springs, this river is enjoying clear water and wadeable levels on all sections. Nymphing is the best way to start the day until well afternoon, using typical attractors trailed by smaller baetis nymphs such as Pheasant Tails, Poxyback Baetis, Harrop’s Biot Emergers and black BLMs. In the afternoon and evening, switch to hoppers and caddis dries. Sands says brown trout are getting ready to spawn with some big fish starting to move into the lower Fork from the Colorado River. So here too the action will only get better.The Crystal River is clear and flowing slowly at 54 cfs near Carbondale. Although its fish run smaller than on the other two rivers, they are feeding on prolific hatches of Green Drakes as they try to fatten up for winter. The best fishing is from Marble down to Redstone. Use Green Drake Sparkleduns, G.D. Parachutes, Stimulators, Copper Johns, Princes and Angel Case Emergers.Denver MetroClear Creek (above Hwy. 119) – When the water is muddied by rain, use dark flies such as Black Caddis, Black Gnats and Black Ants. On clearer days try small nymphs such as the RS2, Copper John or Gold-Ribbed Hare’s ear. Fishing is best late mornings and evenings. Clear Lake – Small brook trout are being caught here and in the creek above on small Caddis and Renegade flies. Use a clear bubble to help to get some distance on the lake. For rainbows use Power Bait, Crave Bait or small nightcrawlers. NorthwestBlue River (below Green Mountain Reservoir) – Flowing high, fast and clear. Fishing is very good in the tailwater beneath Green Mountain Reservoir and at the confluence with the Colorado River. Colder nights have ended the evening spinner fall but terrestrials and nymphs continue to provide good daytime action. Use a hopper dropper with a Prince Nymph trailer or a No. 10-12 Stimulator with a Copper John or RS2 dropper. Look for brown trout to start spawning soon and when they, switch to egg patterns. The tailwater beneath the dam is subject to periodic security closures and is currently only open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 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 out of Dillon Reservoir has fluctuated between 75 and 110 cfs but will go up to 500-600 cfs over the Labor Day Weekend. This will flush a lot of Mysis Shrimp out of the dam and push some of the huge “uncatchables” into the lower portions of the tailwater. Can they be caught? It might be a good weekend to find out with a 1X tippet and mega weights, dredging for a lunker. Big beadheads, Mysis Shrimp and San Juan Worms may bring high-water success. Before Saturday stick to the smaller midges, Mysis and baetis. Colorado River (below Parshall) – Flow is high but wadeable below the confluence of the Williams Fork, temperatures are down and fishing is excellent. Freezes have slowed hatches but there is still plenty of hopper action in daytime and evening nymphing. Use hopper/droppers or orange Stimulators ahead of a Hare’s Ear, RS2, WD-40, Prince Nymph or Pheasant Tail. Switch to egg patterns when you see brown trout start spawning. Colorado River (Glenwood to Rifle) – Flow is at 1,830 cfs in Glenwood Springs and the river is slightly off-color but still fishing quite well. Streamers work best on overcast days with Clousers, Splendors and Kiwi Muddlers leading the cast of most effective flies. Be sure to fish with a heavy tippet of at least 0X to handle high flows and big fish. Nymphing is good in the faster seams with high oxygen content. Use Princes, Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns, Poxyback Baetis and Rusty Spinners. Dry fly fishing can be good with caddis late afternoon into evening. Colorado River (near Granby) – Fishing is productive. Nights have become very cool and it looks like there will be an early fall. Recommended flies include Black Ants, various green/olive patterns, Woolly Buggers (dressed and used as indicators), Irresistibles and terrestrials. Beadheads such as Prince Nymphs and Copper Johns are also effective. 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 – The crowds of summer are gone with plenty of elbow room, plenty of fish and a profusion of hatches. In the tailwater below Ruedi Reservoir, flows are up to 211 cfs. This has flushed out heavier concentrations of Mysis Shrimp, creating some great fishing. There is still a broad mix of hatches further downstream including Green Drakes, Flavs, Pale Morning Duns and Blue Wing Olives. Fish are starting to key in on smaller fall insects like the BWOs though they’re also feeding on hoppers and other late summer insects. Fishing is good and improving daily. Grand Lake – Conditions remain very consistent on this lake. Rainbow and brown trout are biting well in 5-15 feet of water on yellow Tasmanian Devils, Panther Martins, salmon eggs, worms or Power Bait. Lake trout are hanging in 30-40 feet of water and difficult to catch. The bag and possession limit for lakers is 4 fish, only one of which can be over 36 inches. Green Mountain Reservoir – Fishing is picking up as the water cools. Best times are early morning and evening and trolling remains the best method for trout and kokanee. The salmon are schooling up for their spawning run and can be caught on Arnies or Needlefish. Snagging season for them starts Sept 1. Roaring Fork River – Flows and fishing are great right now. Clear water and good levels on all sections of the river with flows of 54 cfs in Aspen, 308 cfs in Basalt and 614 cfs in Glenwood Springs. Anglers are enjoy good nymphing early and midday with typical attractors trailed by smaller baetis nymphs such as Pheasant Tails, Poxyback Baetis, Harrop’s Biot Emergers and black BLMs. There is also good dry fly fishing with hoppers and caddis later in the day. Some big fish are starting to move into the lower Roaring Fork from the Colorado River. Get ready for some hot fall fishing. White River – Flows are 316 cfs at Buford and 146 cfs near Meeker. A lot of whitefish are being caught at the two public accesses near Meeker but the best trout fishing is from Sleepy Cat upriver. Hopper/dropper rigs or large orange Stimulators trailed by a beadhead provide the best action. Williams Fork Reservoir – Pike fishing is very good with two fish over 38 inches caught last week, one on a jointed Rapala, the other on frozen shiners. Anglers must remember to return all northerns within the 26 to 34-inch slot limit. Some nice rainbows have also been caught here on smaller Rapalas and spoons such as the Thomas buoyant in rainbow trout colors. Kokanee are starting to school for their annual spawning run and snagging will be permitted starting Sept. 1. After Sept. 15, no snagging will be permitted beyond a buoy line at the river inlet. Williams Fork River – Water remains cool because of increased flows from the Williams Fork dam. Most fly fishing action is on terrestrials and nymphs such as Pheasant Tails, RS2s, Hare’s Ears and Copper Johns. Spincasters should use Roostertails or Mepps. To protect spawning kokanee salmon, a section of river above Williams Fork Reservoir from the inlet upstream to the first country road bridge will be closed to all fishing and snagging Sept. 15-Oct. 31. SoutheastArkansas River No. 3 (Through Pueblo) – Fishing is slow to fair for trout with flies and bait. Arkansas River (Buena Vista to Salida) – The flow in Browns Canyon is about 280 cfs. This makes it easy to cross the river and much of the canyon is now accessible to the wade angler. Terrestrials still provide good action on sunny days and nymphing is always productive. Hoppers, ants and attractor dries with a good mix of beadhead nymphs No. 16-18 are most productive. Arkansas River (Leadville to Buena Vista) – Flow is 80 cfs in Hayden Meadows, 150 cfs in the Granite Gorge. Nymphing the deep pocket water has been good in the Gorge. Look for the fall baetis hatch to begin soon and browns to become more aggressive before their spawn. Arkansas River (Salida to Canon City) – Flow is 300 cfs and clear. Attractor dries with small beadhead droppers are best. River is very wadeable at this level, easy to cross. Clear Creek Reservoir – Fishing for trout and kokanee has greatly improved. Rainbows and browns are being caught on Kastmasters, Needlefish and Mepps spinners. Salmon are also hitting on trolled Needlefish and Arnies. Elevenmile Reservoir – Fishing is good if you can find the right spot. Shorecasters usually do well at Rocking Chair, Lazy Boy, North Shore and the coves at Coyote Ridge using any color Power Bait, nightcrawlers or salmon eggs. Boaters do best trolling with Kastmasters or Arnies tipped with crawlers and used with rainbow Cowbells. Kokanee are hard to locate but if you find them the action is fast and furious. Pike fishing remains fair in weedy coves; a few big ones have been caught each week for the past month. They hit mostly on black Bunnies and blue and silver Rapalas. South Platte River (btwn Spinney and Elevenmile) – Fishing is fair to good. Trout are hitting on No. 18-22 Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns, UFOs and Black Beauties. Mid-morning and evening hours are best. SouthwestGunnison River (below Crystal Dam) – Flow has dropped to 505 cfs and the Portal through the canyon is really fishing well with Scuds, Tricos, No. 20 PMDs, Caddis, hoppers and midge larvae, pupae, emergers or adults. When fishing is slow, go smaller. Other than that stick with the usual cast of characters: Beadhead Princes, Copper Johns, Scuds, Pheasant Tails, Halfbacks and San Juan worms. Call the Cimarron Creek Fly Shop at 970-249-0408 for updated conditions.Gunnison River (through the canyon) – Flow through the canyon is 518 cfs and fishing remains good. Hopper/dropper rigs are effective when trailing a Copper John or beadhead nymph. A No. 8 Woolly Bugger in black or Flash-a-Bugger colors also works, as do No. 14-16 Yellow Stimulators or San Juan Worms with a Prince Nymph dropper. The upper Gunnison is nice and clear. Steady flows allow jet boats to operate, though no motorized craft are allowed above the North Fork confluence. 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.
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