Trouts Journal

Trouts Frisco Forecast | May 2021 Edition

Zeke Hersh / May 15, 2021

Welcome to the Trouts Frisco/Mountain Forecast!

Up in the mountains we have been having quite the regular Colorado spring. A couple warm days followed by a couple cold, snowy or rainy days. In my mind, this is how the spring season usually goes here in the high country. It looks like the next few weeks will extend this trend. This means that we will probably have some favorable fishing for the weeks to come. With these cooler temperatures, this will keep the rivers from blowing out from snowmelt and that means a more gradual rise of the river and this translates into a pretty normal high-water season. Typically expect to see peak runoff around the first two weeks of June.

With the Mother’s Day Caddis Hatch happening right now, there has been some great fishing and I have also heard, some frustrating fishing. This can be tough if you find yourself right in the middle of the hatch. You’ll see so many naturals but the fish just do not want to eat your flies. My recommendation is to go up or downstream and try and get ahead or well below the hatch and find some hungry fish.

As we move out of the caddis hatch, the next big hatch of the spring is right around the corner: the salmonfly hatch on the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers. You may have heard me talk about this in the past. If you want to hit this hatch just right, I would think about spending quite a bit of time the last week of May and the first couple of weeks of June on or close to the Colorado River. This can be such a quick-moving hatch, that you need to be ready to go at a moment's notice. Not only to be in front or on the leading edge of the hatch, but to also be in clearer water before runoff starts hitting the river. Which just so happens to usually coincide with the salmonfly hatch.

Good luck in the next month to come! This is such a fun few weeks to be outside in Colorado, so enjoy it and fish hard.

A few places I think about visiting this time of year:

The Arkansas from Leadville to Buena Vista:

With the caddis hatch moving up the river corridor the upper river is starting to wake up. Fishing on this upper section offers a ton of public water and this should get you in front of the caddis hatch. If you don’t run into caddis look for blue-winged olive hatches.

The Colorado River below Hot Sulphur Springs:

With the ice off the river above the Williams Fork confluence, there is a good amount of public water to explore. Not only will the caddis hatch be moving up from the lower river, but on the cloudy and cold days there can be a good blue-winged olive hatch. And as we get into June, the salmonfly hatch on this section can offer some of the best wade fishing during this hatch.

The Blue River (North of Silverthorne):

The Blue below the dam in Silverthorne has been fishing quite well. If we see flows start bumping up to make space in Dillon reservoir, make sure you get to the tailwater. This is when you might see fish you may never see in the river. Except when it's running high like this! I’ve seen some absolute tanks during high releases in the spring. I also really like to start to fish north of town this time of year. Before the runoff hits the river and turns it off-color. This is a great time of year to find some larger browns and rainbows in some of the wild water on the Blue River.

The Colorado River from Kremmling to Dotsero:

This section will have a lot going on for the next month. I’ve already seen some huge caddis hatches where the fish were tight-lipped. But as I have been talking about in this post, try and move above it for the best results. As we near the end of May the stonefly nymphs will be on the move and any day you could see the adults. Look to take some time off work and spend it camping near the river for the best results. For the next month, you will have to deal with the ebb and flow of warming trends putting some color in the water and then clearing as we go through the cooling trends.

The Wild Card*- Antero and Spinney Mountain Reservoirs:

I am keeping these in this report again, because the reality is any day could bring runoff and unfishable water to many rivers as we move towards June. So, having this in your back pocket as an alternative on those muddy river days is a must for anglers this time of year in Colorado. One of my favorite ways to target these lake fish, is to sight fish them from some kind of height. You get to see the fish cruising, put a good or bad cast at them, maybe see them turn on your flies and hopefully an eat. It really doesn’t get much better than that.

Staff Picked Trout Flies - Arkansas River
Staff Picked Trout Flies - Arkansas River
Staff Picked Trout Flies - Eagle River
Staff Picked Trout Flies - Eagle River
Staff Picked Trout Flies - Upper Colorado
Staff Picked Trout Flies - Upper Colorado
Staff Picked Trout Flies - Blue River
Staff Picked Trout Flies - Blue River


Wedgehead Streamer

For this streamer's larger size, it is incredibly easy to cast. It moves well in the water, looks very lifelike and pushes a lot of water with it’s wedgehead. For the weeks to come I would want to have black and brown colors in my fly box.

Long Haired Hippie

This pattern in the dark color will be an important pattern to have in your fly box for the next couple months to come. This fly is tied heavy to sink fast in the higher flows of the spring and summer. Add the rubber legs in to attract some attention and this fly will do well in the off-color conditions these higher flows tend to bring.

Dirty Bird Tungsten

This fly is also a favorite producer for the next couple of months. I personally think this fly looks better wet and it seems the trout don’t mind it at all either. The tungsten helps this fly sink from dropper setups from the boat and I find this fly works well even when there isn’t an emergence happening

Foam Caddis

This is a favorite for the “Mother’s Day Caddis Hatch” time of year. Black tends to be a good color during this period and the high floatation of foam is a bonus during higher flow times.

Chubby Chernobyl

It’s about that time of year! I’ve already caught a few fish on one of my favorite dry fly dropper dries. You really can’t go wrong with having this fly size 16-6 and in various colors. For the next couple of months my favorite colors to fish are: tan, royal, orange and gold.


The Arkansas Near Leadville- 30.4 CFS

The Arkansas at Granite- 153 CFS

The Arkansas at Salida- 318 CFS

The Colorado at Hot Sulphur Springs- 337 CFS

The Colorado at Kremmling- 590 CFS

The Williams Fork below Williams Fork Reservoir- 17.8 CFS

The Blue below Dillon- 55.7 CFS

The Blue below Green Mountain Reservoir- 77.6 CFS

Piney River at Statebridge- 116 CFS

The Colorado at Catamount Bridge- 882 CFS

Colorado at Dotsero- 1430 CFS


So far it’s looking like a normal spring pattern for the next few weeks. We will have short warming trends followed by four to six or so days of cooling temperatures and precipitation. This will compliment us well for a slower run off and keep the waters from swelling fast and turning off color. As we get into June we typically see this pattern change. Most years we see the precipitation and cooling trends dissipate and we move into warmer weather with very little chance of precipitation until we see thunderstorms emerge in July.

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