While fall here was very mild, recent weather patterns have had a bit more of a winter feel to them. With snow beginning to accumulate in the high country, ice shelves have started to appear on the freestones and tailwater flows have dipped across the state to their normal low winter conditions. For a lot of people it’s a welcome opportunity to finally knock the dust off the skis or snowboard and hit the slopes. However, for the anglers who still have the itch to chase around trout, the cold helps eliminate some crowds and gives you a chance to find a little solitude on some of Colorado’s famous big fish tailwaters.
December is the start of what I like to call the Tailwater Season and it runs through February/March depending on which part of the state you’re trying to fish. As many of you know Colorado’s tailwaters can be some of the most technical fisheries and unfortunately it doesn’t get any easier this time of the year. It’s time to come to the river equipped with 5-6x Fluorocarbon tippet and midge box.
The hardest part for me this time of the year is finally making the decision to leave the truck heater behind and get the day started, so if you find yourself sitting in the car for an extra 20-30 minutes drinking one last cup of warm coffee or one last motivational beer know you aren’t the only one. This time of the year is a great time to practice your sight fishing skills and focus on making productive casts to fish or you may find yourself cleaning ice out of your guides more than catching fish. Below are 5 of my December go to’s for success this time of the year in Colorado.
Red JuJu Midge- Red is a year round go to color for me personally and the JuJu Midge is one of my favorite midge patterns. 95 percent of the time this will be one of the three flies on my rig throughout the entire month of December. Sizes 20 and 22 being my favorite.
Black WD-40- The WD-40 is one of my favorite emerger patterns. A fairly simple pattern that I have gained a ton of confidence in. I’ve personally put this fly to the test on just about every Colorado Tailwater and it flat out gets it done.
Black Beauty- It’s always good to have a classic or two in the box. The Black Beauty is the classic I prefer during the winter months. I like to fish Black Beauties with a clear bead and in sizes 20-22.
Gray RS2- Another classic that I always have with me through December. It’s not uncommon for there to be good midge hatches during December and I love to fish the RS2 as a dropper behind a Griffiths Gnat. Fishing the emerger just below the surface can produce great results when you come across a pod of winter risers.
Hi-Vis Griffith's Gnat- Many people shy away from the idea of throwing dry flies during the winter months in Colorado. However, it can be one of the most effective ways to fish when you are seeing consistent risers in slower water. It happens to all of us as we work nymphs in the winter, we look up to the next run and see subtle risers coming up everywhere. It generates excitement and you rush up to the run, then immediately put every fish down when you splash split shot and an indicator over the top of them. With that said start carrying some tiny dries with you in December and when you come across a group of risers, make the quick change. I’m confident you will like the results.