Roaring Fork River

Tip of the week 


May 4, 2015

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FLOW: 191 cfs below Maroon Creek (Woody Creek Canyon)

WATER CLARITY: Clear and low for the most part, the water can get a little color on hot afternoons now that we are in pre- runoff mode.

OVERALL RATING: 7 out of 10

THE SHORT AND SWEET: It's a delight fishing the upper Roaring Fork lately, there are a few different sizes of caddis moving around, baetis and midge hatches too. Exercise caution in the upper river as resident rainbows are spawning in full force. Give those redds a wide berth.

FOOD SOURCES PRESENT: Midges, Baetis, Stoneflies, Caddis, Sculpins-Juvenile Trout

IN DEPTH REVIEW: Our hatches are revving up on the upper, and will only improve in the weeks to come with warmer weather on the horizon. The swarm of caddis is still around Carbondale through Glenwood, but there is very decent bug activity on the Fork closer to Aspen. The beauty of the upper river is that it is less susceptible to runoff conditions and remains fishable when the lower river eventually turns to chocolate milk. As stated above, spawning rituals are in full swing on the upper river, so fight the temptation to cast to these vulnerable rainbows and focus on sight fishing to browns and cutts.

Woody Creek, Dart and Jaffe are all worth your while right now, and bring along some BWO and caddis dries in addition to stonefly nymphs, caddis larvae, baetis and midge nymphs. Streamers are producing well, but exercise caution as many spawners can't help themselves and chase them down, too.

Start the day with a nymph rig, and transition to dry flies as the fish begin to look up. Covering tons of water is pretty key these days, so catch one or two and keep moving up or downstream. Worms and stones are more productive on dirty water days, as they don't get pushed around much during low and clear flows.


DRIES: Pearl and Elk Caddis 14-18, Peacock Caddis 16-18, EC Caddis 16-18, CDC Transitional Midge 20-22, TC Fryingpan Emerger 20-22, TC Bill's Midge Emerger 20-22, CDC Spent Midge 22, Sparkledun BWO 20-22, No Hackle BWO 20-22, TC Collett's Para Quill BWO 20-22

NYMPHS: Cat Poops 6-10, 20 Incher 12-14, Tung. Winter Stone 18-20, Prince 16-20, TC BLM 18-20, TC STD 18-20, TC Biot Midge Emerger 20-22, Tung.Hoover Baetis 20-22, Zebra Midge 18-20, TC Red Midge Larva 20-22, Prince 16-20, PT's 18-24, RS2's 20-22, Electric Caddis 16-18, Caddis Candy 16-18, Tung. Z-Wing Caddis 16-18, TC Flashtail Hot Egg 14-18

STREAMERS: TC Foxee, TC Ziwi, Slumpbuster 6-8, Sculpzilla 6-10, TC Stingin' Sculpin 8, Salmonid Purple Bugger 8

HINTS: The foam is the home - for risers!


FLOW: 465 cfs in Basalt

WATER CONDITIONS: Clear for the most part, there is a bit of color beginning to show in the river from the myriad of feeder creeks and tributaries.

OVERALL RATING: 6 out of 10 below the Crystal, 9 out of 10 above

FOOD SOURCES PRESENT: Caddis, BWOs, Stoneflies, midges

THE SHORT AND SWEET: Sweet fishing opportunities abound. Caddis are thicker downvalley, but they are already making a decent showing here in Basalt. BWOs are still hatching regularly as we have been experiencing far more cloudy, cool weather, which BWOs just love. Hot and dry days are on the horizon, so the caddis fishing will improve here significantly.

THE IN DEPTH REVIEW: Like the lower river, caddis are the favorite meal, now that the trout remember what caddis are and that they can eat them. Last weeks refusals are turning into this week's pounces, as the fish are getting pretty keyed in on the surface bite. Like the entirety of the Roaring Fork, the river is just squirming with bug life ready to hatch. Float trips over the last few days from Carbondale down have seen blanket hatches.

As previously stated, cloudy days are producing the best baetis hatches and hot sunny days are encouraging caddis to come off in real numbers. Nymphing until dry fly activity is the program of late, utilizing stonefly, green drake, caddis and various baetis nymphs in addition to worms. Any time we see color in the water this time of year, the worm goes on the rig. Let the fish tell you where to nymph by watching where they hold in the water column. If you are seeing suspended fish just under the surface or fish holding down deep, adjust your nymph rig accordingly.

Dry fly presentations are best along the edges, or anywhere you see surface sipping fish congregate. We fish BWOs and midges in a drag-free fashion and wiggle, hop and skate the caddis. Cloudy days are producing better caddis activity at dusk, hot days are midday and again at dusk for best dry fly fishing.


NYMPHS: 20 Incher 12-14, Cat Poop 6-10, Tung. Winter Stone 18-20, Z Wing Caddis 16-18, Graphic Caddis 16-18, Caddistrophic Pupa 16-18, TC BLM 18-20, TC STD 18-20, Prince 16-18, BH Polywing Emerger 18-20, TC Freestone Emerger 20, TC Biot Midge Emerger 18-22, TC Knight Rider 22, RS2's 20-22, Zebra's 18-20, TC Red Midge Larva 20-22,

DRIES: Ethawing Caddis 16-18, Stimulator 14-18, Peacock Caddis 14-18, CDC Transitional Midge 20-22, TC Fryingpan Emerger 20-22, TC Bill's Midge Emerger 20-22, CDC Spent Midge 22, Sparkledun BWO 20-22, No Hackle BWO 20-22, TC Collett's Para Quill BWO 20-22

STREAMERS: Not super productive, but throw darker colors of Slumpbustes and Sculpzillas on cloudy days.

HINTS: Have you tried Simms G3 Bootfoots yet? This is the jam if you're seeking comfort and warmth! Try some on next time you're in the shop, you'll be amazed!


FLOW: 822 cfs in Glenwood Springs

WATER CONDITIONS: Changing daily, but not enough to slow down the caddis hatch. The Crystal has been running a little dirty, but has not blown out yet. Visibility has been hovering around 2-3 feet.

OVERALL RATING: 6 out of 10! The caddis swarm is on!

FOOD SOURCES PRESENT: CADDIS, CADDIS, CADDIS, Midges, Baetis, Stoneflies, Sculpins, Juvenile Trout

THE SHORT AND SWEET: Floats and wades have been doing quite well as of late, with the cooler temps and cloud cover we have been experiencing, the streamer bite has been good too. Nymphs, dries and streamers are all on the menu right now. Caddis are hatching heavily, no bones about it!

THE IN DEPTH REVIEW: This is the time of year we all wait for, dry flies on the Roaring Fork! It all starts with blue winged olives, transitions to caddis, and then green drakes are next. Caddis keep on hatching once green drakes get going, presenting double-threat dry fly hatches. As mentioned above, the cooler temps and cloud cover prompt blue winged olives to pop, and hot sunny days are caddis mayhem. Despite the cool and the clouds, the caddis are still coming off in good numbers, and the egg-laying scene at dusk has been hectic. Hotter, drier days are in our forcast, it will only improve over the coming week.

Green drake nymphs are prolific in the Fork these days in addition to caddis larvae and golden stones. The drakes are growing quickly, what are now size -14 nymphs are growing fast and will soon be size -10. If you've never flipped a few rocks in the Roaring Fork, do yourself a favor and witness the prolific bug life.

To catch the caddis hatch, it pays to be on the water around midday and again at dusk. Most fish are posted up on the edges these days, spend some time looking for pods of risers (it seems like they're always on the opposite side of the river while wade fishing). Bank to bank risers aren't uncommon, though, during heavy caddis hatches. As we always advise, skating your dry flies from landing all the way to recasting is the way to drive the fish crazy. Across and downstream presentations are practically a must to accomplish this effectively.


NYMPHS: Tungsten Twenty Incher 8-10, Cat Poop Stone 6-12, Spanflex Stone 8-10, Prince Nymph 8-18, San Juan Worm 10, Guides Choice Tungsten Hares Ear 16-18, Starling Darling 16-18, Pheasant Tail Soft Hackle 16-18, Graphic Caddis 16-18, BTS Baetis 20, Angel Case BWO 18-20, Swiss Straw Emerger 16-18, Jujubee Midge 18-20, Zebra Midge 20

DRIES: Stimulator 12-18, Royal Stimulator 12-16, Ethawing Caddis 16-18, Pearl and Elk Caddis 14-18, EC Caddis 16-18, Perfect Baetis 20, Collett's Para BWO 18-22, Parachute Adams 16-18

STREAMERS: Dark colors have been producing the best results. Slumpbuster 6-8, Peanut Envy 4-6, Sculpzilla 4-8


Link to the USGS Real Time Flow Chart for the Fork @ Aspen

Link to the USGS Real Time Flow Chart for the Fork @ Basalt (Emma)

Link to the USGS Real Time Flow Chart for the Fork @ Glenwood

Seven-day forecast 

Temps are hovering around the 50s and 60s. Looks perfect!

Must Have Flies 
Taylor Creek-Basalt

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