Roaring Fork River

Tip of the week 


February 8, 2016

Follow us on Twitter at:, or follow us on Facebook under "Taylor Creek Fly Shops" or subscribe and follow our blog at:


FLOW: 62 cfs below Maroon Creek (Woody Creek Canyon)

WATER CLARITY: Gin-clear and low. Ice build up on the banks is significant.

OVERALL RATING: 4 out of 10 The upper Roaring Fork is pretty challenging to fish lately, with plenty of ice on the banks. Many areas only have open water right in the "center lane," where the flow is quickest. There are spots here and there to fish, but please exercise caution on this section of river.

THE SHORT AND SWEET: Keep an eye out when fishing around the upper river, ice dams and bank ice make this section challenging. The Roaring Fork is significantly easier to fish from Basalt and down valley. Nymphing has been the most productive.

FOOD SOURCES PRESENT: Stoneflies, Midges, Huevos, winter stones, baetis nymphs

IN DEPTH REVIEW: So far this winter, the upper river has been pretty icy. Most of the upper Fork is canyon-type water, which doesn't get very much sunlight. Most sunny areas below canyons stay quite slushy on the surface. Bank ice and ice dams present significant challenges, keep your head on a swivel out there, especially upstream. On warm days, ice dams can bust loose, and you don't want to get caught downstream of one of these.

Where you find open water, nymphing has been most productive. Break out the small golden stones, small dark winter stones, baetis nymphs, huevos and midge larva. The water is at it's lowest and clearest point of the year, so treat the upper Fork like you would the Fryingpan (light tippets, small indicators, small bugs for the most part).


DRIES: CDC Transitional Midge 20-22, Bill's Midge Emerger 20-22, Bill's Adult Midge 20-24, Hi-Viz Griffiths Gnat 20-22, Fryingpan Emerger 20-22, CDC Spent Midge 22, HOH CDC Midge Adult 24

NYMPHS: Cat Poop Stones 6-10, 20 Inchers 10-14, Tung. Winter Stone 18-20, BLMs 18-20, Pheasant Tails 20-24, TC Red Midge Larva 20-22, Gray RS2's 20-22, Black Sparklewing RS2's 20-22, Bling Midge 18-20, Biot Midge 20-22, Zebra Midge 18-22, Rojo Midge 20-22

HINTS: Pay attention to those overnight low temps!!! If it's too cold to fish the Roaring Fork, the Fryingpan is an amazing Plan B, where the weather plays no role in its fishability.


FLOW: NA Ice on guage - about 225 cfs in Basalt

WATER CONDITIONS: Clear and steadily improving. The Roaring Fork in Basalt is fishing pretty well!

OVERALL RATING: 6.5 out of 10 but this is a generality. On a warm day, this section is fishing closer to 9 out of 10. If there is slush on the river from a cold overnight, this section can be pretty tough to fish.

FOOD SOURCES PRESENT: Stoneflies, Midges, Huevos, Caddis larva, baetis nymphs, winter stones

THE SHORT AND SWEET: Don't overlook the Roaring Fork right now, it has really been improving as of late. You probably hear us preaching the "fifth season" gospel often this time of year, and we are rapidly approaching go time on this amazing extra fishing season we so enjoy.

THE IN DEPTH REVIEW: Like stated above, fifth season is right on our doorstep. Over the past week we enjoyed pretty balmy weather for late January, and this section of water is really turning on. Like the upper Fork, areas below canyons that don't receive very much sunlight produce quite a bit of slush, even on warm days. The best thing to find is a long stretch of sun-bathed water. Warm and cloudy days are already producing some dry fly activity, and this will only improve as we head into February.

Floating the middle section is still pretty much off the menu, but it won't be long. The main challenges are deep snow on the ramps and how low the river is at this point. Wade spots like Catherine Store, the Tree Nursery and all along Two Rivers Road have been fishing great, as long as you don't mind post-holing here and there and getting your heart rate up.

Like the upper river, nymphing has been the name of the game in this middle section. Larger bugs like twenty inchers and Princes are starting to play, in addition to small winter stones, small golden stones, and the like. Small baetis nymphs, midge larva and huevos have been producing best.


NYMPHS: STD 18-20, BLM 18-20, Biot Midge Emerger 20-22, Black Sparklewing RS2 20-22, Freestone Emerger 20-22, Zebra Midge 18-20, BH Polywing Emerger 18-20, Buckskins 16-18, 20 Inchers 12-14, Tung Winter Stone 18-20, Prince 14-18, Cat Poop Stone 6-10

DRIES: CDC Transitional Midge 20-22, Fryingpan Emerger 20-22, Colletts Para BWO 18-22, Bills Midge Emerger 20-22, Hi-Vis Griffiths Gnat 20-22, Parachute Adams 20-24

HINTS: Why battle the Pan crowds? Check out the awesome fishing on the Fork when the weather is right.


FLOW: N/A ice on guage, about 450 cfs in Glenwood Springs

WATER CONDITIONS: Good clarity, low and clear, and weather dependent. Ice has been fading away a bit with the warm weather of late.

OVERALL RATING: 6 out of 10 but varying with the weather and becoming increasingly better and better.

FOOD SOURCES PRESENT: Stoneflies, Midges, Huevos, baetis nymphs, caddis larva

THE SHORT AND SWEET: On track to be a terrific fifth season before spring. Icy banks have been receding, temps have been warming. These fish have been rested well over the winter and will be ready to play!

THE IN DEPTH REVIEW: The lower Roaring Fork has been improving on the daily! Carbondale to Westbank certainly contains more sun-soaked sections than Westbank down to Two Rivers in Glenwood Springs. The lower section can be pretty slushy if the night before dips down below the teens. Boat ramps are not plowed out at the moment, but Carbondale ramp has a bit of a track dug out by adventurous souls. Westbank has pretty deep snow at the top of the ramp, and Two Rivers is good to go.

Fifth season happens first on the lower Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers, due to lower elevation and warmer temps. We aren't that far away from spring baetis and caddis hatches! Warm and cloudy days can offer up some terrific midging opportunites, and the nymphing game has been pretty good as of late.

It's either going to be feast or famine out there this week. When it gets super cold at night, the Fryingpan is still the way to go. Many of us spent this last week on the middle and lower Roaring Fork, and fishing was damn good. Temps are going to take a bit of a nosedive this week, but it won't be long before we get back to 10 out of 10 on the Fork!


NYMPHS: Cat Poop Stone 6-10, 20 Inchers 12-14, Tung Winter Stone 18-20, Prince Nymph 16-18, BLM 18-20, PT's 18-22, Tung Bead Baetis 18-20, Freestone Emerger 20, RS2's 20, Zebra Midge 18-20, Buckskin 16-18

DRIES: Fryingpan Emerger 20-22, CDC Transitional Midge 20-22, Bills Midge Emerger 20-22, Hi-Viz Griffiths Gnat 20-22

STREAMERS: Save em for March.

HINTS: Keep on eye on those overnight low temps; the warmer the low the better. We generally look for overnight lows in the upper teens or twenties with daytime highs above freezing for the best fishing.

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 

Ditch the big nymphs and dries in lieu of smaller size 18-20 baetis/midges.

Must Have Flies 
Sparkle Dun BWO 18-20 Buy from
Prince Nymph 8-12 Buy from
Bead Head American Pheasant Tail 16-20 Buy from
Griffith's Gnat 20-22 Buy from
WD-40 Gray 20 Buy from
Tungsten Cone Head Woolly Bugger Blk or Wht 4-8 Buy from
Taylor Creek-Basalt

Add Content