As of the week of Thanksgiving, winter has made its way into the high country. A solid eight inches of snow fell in Breckenridge last night and temperatures will stay cool for the week to come. You will want to start targeting those deeper holes and runs and look for the most productive fishing during the warming part or middle part of the day.
There is still an outside chance to see some blue-winged olive hatches on some rivers. Think lower down on river corridors. Nymphing will be the technique of choice, but don’t throw out dry fly fishing or streamers fishing. Look for mid-day midge hatches for your dry fly pursuits and fish the deep runs, slow and deep, with a streamer for some takes.
Here are a few standout locations to think about and research for the next couple of weeks.
The Colorado below Glenwood Springs:
Late November and early December offer some of the last warmer weeks for float fishing. Get out for a drift before you’ll have to be bundled significantly. Target the deep holes and throw your drifts down in front of the boat. Maybe even fish from the bank to the middle. You should still be able to get some streamer eaters, just look to move your flies into deeper water and try slowing the retrieve down. The wade fishing should be quite good with fish forming pods in the slower deeper holes and runs. Look for mid-day midge hatches on this section.
The Eagle River:
With time running out for a free running stream free of ice, now is the time to get to the Eagle River for one last day before most sections ice up. You might also get lucky and see a last blue-winged olive hatch - but really - look for a midge hatch. I’ve had some great dry fishing this time of year on the Eagle. Nymphing will be the most productive in the deep runs and holes.
The South Platte below Spinney Mountain Reservoir (The Dream Stream):
This is a longtime favorite to fish in the winter time. Usually, right around Thanksgiving I start getting the itch to get out and check it out. This is a tailwater and fishes great year around, but I find myself fishing it more in the winter months. There could be a few more blue-wings hatching and I have definitely had some good midge hatch dry fly fishing here. This section is really a winter nymphing stream with some large fish to be caught. Look for fish in the deep holes and runs and with the amount of meandering this stream does, there are a lot of deep benders to be found.
The Arkansas from Buena Vista to Canyon City:
If you want to catch the last couple blue-winged olive hatches, this is the place to do it. Fish here on the cloudy and colder days and you may be in luck. If the blue-wings aren't hatching you could also see fishing rising to midges. Nymphing the slow deep holes can produce lots of fish to the net, so this is really a go-to in the winter months for me.
The Blue River:
I’m going to recommend the Blue River here because it is so close and offers some good options through the winter. Really much of this does not change for the next couple weeks. The tailwater section below Dillon fishes quite well all winter long. The next few weeks still offer some great opportunities for dry fly fishing with the potential for a few more blue-winged olive hatches and moving more towards midge hatches. Then standard small fly and light tippet nymphing is the most common approach to this section.
The Blue north of Silverthorne has a couple weeks left before it ices up. I had good luck a week ago nymphing slow holes. Get here before the ice comes.
This is a great lighter colored stonefly or large attractor nymph with some added flash. This fly is heavy enough to act as the first fly in a dropper rig but also fishes smaller and fish eat it year-round.
KGB in Black and Tan
If you haven’t heard of it or fished it, check it out. It has become a go-to in my box. In the black version it is a good option as a BWO nymph or other darker nymphs and comes in small sizes. The blue flashback offers something a little different. The tan version is a great lighter color option with a copper flashback – creating a different look. Both flies sink like a rock with their slim profile and tungsten bead.
Tungsten Zebra Midge
It’s hard to go wrong with this pattern! It comes in various colors and sizes and is a must in every fly box. I like to carry it in most colors in sizes #14-22.
This Solitude Fly pattern is a great midge pattern in a few different color options. My two favorites are pearl and black. This pattern in black has just enough flash to attract attention without turning the fish and the pearl is flashy like a Rainbow Warrior and can catch fish year-round.
Brook’s Sprout Midge
This is my go-to dry fly midge pattern for the months to come. This fly comes in a good range of colors, with black, gray and cream being my favorites. Tied down to #26 and with a foam post, this is a great small fly when size matters.
Colorado below Glenwood Springs- 1290 CFS
Eagle below Milk Creek near Wolcott- 102 CFS
Blue River below Dillon- 57.4 CFS
Arkansas at Salida- 366 CFS
South Platte above Elevenmile Reservoir- 144 CFS
The ten-day forecast looks to be cooling from last week’s temperatures. We will see highs in the 30’s and 40’s with chances of moisture on most days. Some lower altitude destinations could see some temperatures in the high 40’s and lower 50’s. This should offer some good fishing and maybe that last BWO hatch.