We are now in late summer mode here in the Roaring Fork Valley. Thanks to well timed rainfall and a healthy snowpack from last winter the rivers have managed to stay cool and are fishing well. It’s important to watch the weather this time of year as the river is much more susceptible to blowouts with afternoon thunderstorms. The upper Roaring Fork is blessed with granite soils and rarely gets muddy after rain so if the lower river is brown you can always head upstream. The Colorado on the other hand can take days to clear after rainstorms so if you’re looking to try your hand at the monster fish check out the forecast and try to go after a series of clear days.
The upper Roaring Fork is in prime shape and the fishing has been on fire. Many hatches throughout the day include PMD’s, beatis, caddis, yellow sallies and occasional green drakes in the evening and on cloudy days. If you’re not sure which hatch to focus on just throw a high float, hi-vis attractor fly and fish the faster moving pocket water. In the riffles faster moving pockets the fish tend to not be so picky and willing to take larger attactors. If you see fish working the surface in the pools and runs try a mayfly imitation as they tend to prefer eating mayflies over other types of insects. If you see the fish making slashy and splashy rises it’s a good clue that they are chasing caddis. Fish that are slowly sipping or porpoising are most likely eating mayflies.
As for the lower Roaring Fork nymphing is mostly the name of the game. With clear water and lower flows we are starting to downsize our tippet and flies. Our best success has been to focus on suspending fish over shallow water. This means you don’t have to struggle with finding the bottom and getting moss all over your flies. There are plenty of fish hanging out 2-3 feet under the surface eating emergers. For this technique try dropping a small but heavy nymph about three feet below your indicator and trail this with two lighter beatis, midge or trico patterns. For the lead fly perdigons work great as they are small yet heavy and sink super fast. You can also try using a split shot trailed by two or three small flies. Hatches on the lower Fork are small so you should be focusing on size 18 and smaller flies. Tricos are now hatching like clockwork around 9:00 am and lasting for a couple hours. These miniscule little mayflies come out by the thousands and although they are tiny the fish definitely take note. Trico specific patterns work well but it’s hard to beat a simple size 22 black RS2 with a white wing. Beatis is the next course. These bugs aren’t quite as small as tricos but still pretty tiny. The beatis tend to hatch steadily throughout the day and can provide steady action for hours, especially when it’s overcast. Sporadic hatches of PMD’s, caddis and yellow sallies are still sound but unreliable. If you see some bigger bugs around don’t be afraid to tie on some bigger flies.
The Colorado river is finally clear and fishing well for the most post. This river holds some of the biggest fish in the state. Keep an eye on the flows and water clarity as even a small rainstorm can turn the river brown. Check out the Glenwood webcam for real time images of the water clarity. Fishing down here is a gamble and when it’s good it can pay off in a BIG way but if the fishing is slow it can be downright frustrating. The fish on this river are more likely to rise to dries than on the Roaring Fork. Prospecting with a large hopper and other attractor flies can be a great way to prospect for trout. Make sure to pay attention to areas where foam and debris collect as the saying goes “foam is home” is especially true on the lower Colorado. Also, keep an eye out in the slow moving pools for pods of rising fish. When you see these pods working in the slow water it is usually best to downsize your flies and tippet. Many guides keep a dedicated rig set up for these pods with small flies and 5 or 6x tippet. Fish on the Colorado tend to like larger and dark nymphs, perhaps the black flies contrast better in the murky water. There are a lot of larger forage for the trout beyond just insects. Baitfish and crawdads are plentiful so don’t overlook streamers, especially if prospecting for big browns.
Our Current Fly-Fishing Trip Recommendations:
Dry Flies: Buoyancy and visibility is key on the upper section, on the lower section matching the hatch is more important.
Nymphs: Heavy tungsten beadheads are recommended.
Streamers: Worth a try but the action is slowing down as the water recedes. Best during foul weather or early in the morning.
Water levels on the Roaring Fork and Arkansas Rivers have stayed consistent through August. Although the water is low we are still having fun on the river.
Our Current Trip Recommendations
We offer snacks, local beers, water and other beverages after the trips, and, best of all, we have FREE PHOTOS!!