January 12, 2018-Roaring Fork Valley Fishing Report

Good Afternoon!

Well, it’s been almost a month since my last blog, as I have temporarily relocated to the Roaring Fork Valley, Carbondale, Colorado. I will be returning to my Executive Chef position at the Wigwam club in mid-April, where I’ll continue to fish and write daily of the conditions and the fishing   Coming from another valley, the South Platte, this has certainly become an adventure worth discussing! Having the luxury of being surrounded by some of the best fishing waters in Colorado, I’ve been somewhat overwhelmed with all my options of great water to fish! With that being said, I’ve been fishing the Roaring Fork, from Aspen to Glenwood Springs. I’ve fished the Frying Pan, from Reudi Reservoir, to the confluence of the Roaring Fork, in Basalt. Let’s not forget the memorable December afternoon on the Crystal, and last but not least, I could not possibly forget to give the Great Colorado River it’s due recognition in this blog! Let’s get started, shall we?  Winter fishing in Colorado usually means two things to me. Be prepared for any condition that may come your way, and be prepared for an epic day or two on any of the fore-mentioned rivers! With the typical winter, tail-water fishery conditions on the Pan, flows have been pretty consistently hovering around 85-90 (cfs). As I’ve been fishing down river from the famous Toilet Bowl, I’ve been sticking to the deeper runs and riffles, where the fish seem to be congregating and feasting on the consistent midge diet, typical for this time of year. The fishing on the Pan has been terrific the last couple of weeks! I’ve continued to have daily success on a variety of bugs, including the simple San Juan Worm, as an indicator bug, followed with a variety of colors of the zebra midge. Red, black, and gold with Silver wire have really been pulling the big browns up the last two days! In addition to these bugs, I’ve also had similar success with a variety of Baetis, such as the Purple and Blue Juju, and the emergers, such as the black and grey RS-2. The Baetis Emerger represents a small baetis nymph as it ascends the water column and hatch. Emerging baetis mayflies are at their most vulnerable when emerging, and fish love an easy meal. Since I’ve been fishing mostly in water no deeper than about 18-24 inches, in most cases on the Pan, this has proven an invaluable technique for catching fish! A simple, two-fly nypmph rig, consisting of that attractor bug, followed with any of the above mentioned, have just been killing it on the Pan! Once again, it’s not always about the bug, but the presentation has got to be there! I basically have adopted a very common practice of making sure that I’ve got enough weight above that top fly, to at least get hung up or be scraping the bottom by the end of my drift.  Moving on to the Roaring Fork, I’ve had to make a few adjustments, primarily to yet again, my split shot weight, and my distance to my first fly. Considering the flows this time of year on the upper Fork have been around 385-425 (cfs), my game has had to adapt! Fishing this faster, deeper water has resulted in the need to add significant weight, along with a slightly different way of going about my set-up and bug selection. Primarily, I’ve been fishing around the Carbondale area, workng my way from the boat ramp off Hwy.82, downstream to the second railroad bridge. In addition to this area, I’ve also taken some time to explore a few areas off of Midland Rd, from about 11th street, and then into Glenwood Springs. The clarity this time of year on the Fork, has been nothing but “Gin” clear! This is not only a perfect time to sight fish for big bows and  brown’s, but it gives you a little room to increase that tippet size.  Nymphing has been productive with patterns such as Pat’s Rubber legs (Purple was on fire the other day), Size 16-18 Stoneflies, Black Hare’s Ear’s, and the ever productive, black, olive, and grey Rs-2. Similar to the Pan, the fish have been eager to take the emerger bugs, such as the Foam back Chocolate Thunder, and the yellow Barr’s emerger. Most of my success on the fork came from fishing the tail-outs, pocket water runs, and believe it or not, some bridge structure has put a few in the net as well. My days on the Crystal River have been limited, considerably less productive than the Pan or Fork, but have still produced fish. With similar flows like the Pan, with none of the crowds to deal with like you do on the Pan, the Crystal has provided me with two outstanding mid-afternoon outings, along the stretch between Carbondale and Redstone. Locating a wonderful section that provided some deeper pools, with shelves and drop-offs on both ends, I had two really good afternoons fishing this section of river, with the similar set-up used on the Pan. Smaller bugs in the size 20-24 range were quite productive, with the black Rs-2 and San Juan Worm taking the title! If you’re looking to “get away” from the crowds and get some quality scenic pictures while your fishing, I highly recommend a winter afternoon on the Crystal. Honestly, the fishing isn’t as consistent as the Pan or Fork this time of year, but the solitude is worth the trip! Great views of Mnt.Sopris and the redstone cliffs are just a few of the natural beauties that make this a great place to spend the afternoon. Finishing up today with the Colorado, I’ve only had one experience to share. One day last week, I finished up on the Fork, near the Confluence with the Colorado, and found myself staring into a cold, fast river flowing at approximately 1350 (cfs) Not having much time, and noticing some fish actively feeding around some boulders, I took a chance with throwing a Streamer or two, and had pretty good success for about an hour! Fishing an Olive and Black Wooley Bugger, size #10, I repeatedly put fish in the net by stripping the bugger just past the boulders along the bank. Adding significant weight to the “cone-head” style of bugger that I had, proved invaluable, as i was hooking up on fish about as deep as I could get! This led to some pretty good fish fighting as I tried to keep them out of the boulders! Well, that’s all I’ve got for now my friends! Look for more reports to come out of the Roaring Fork Valley, as I’ll be here for the next three months. As always, be sure to check the daily flows on the “fishing report” icon, located at the top of each page, detailing the current weather and fishing information for the Decker’s Area! I am planning a trip back to Decker’s in just a few weeks, and I’ll be sure to post my results!  I hope you enjoy the video I found on YouTube, it’s really gives you and idea of what it’s like to spend a little time in this valley Paradise!  Until then, for a detailed report on what’s specifically working in Decker’s, be sure to check with the guys at Flies and Lies http://www.flies-n-lies.com. Hope to see you on the river soon!