Winter has finally taken its grip on the high country. We have started to see some consistent snowfall and colder temperatures. This is great for the winter snowpack, and we look forward to more of this in the following months. The colder temperatures and snow make it a little less comfortable to enjoy your favorite mountain streams, but the payoff will hopefully be full rivers in the spring, summer, and fall months. Not to mention some powder turns at your favorite resort or the Colorado backcountry. With the anticipation of more stormy weather to come, here are a few of my favorite places to fish with the potential for inclement weather.
The Blue below Dillon Reservoir:
This is a favorite for elusive double sport days or when time is limited. You can always count on the tailwater section for a couple hours of fun. The temperatures can be cold, but the fish are used to the cold water temperatures. Nymphing is usually the most productive but keep your eye out for daily midge hatches. You won't see fish rising everywhere, but there are a few select spots where you can consistently catch fish on dry flies through the winter months.
The Blue above Dillon Reservoir:
This section makes the report again for a few different reasons. First of all, it is close, adding it to the double sport list. Then, this section is consistently overlooked. Lastly, this section has a good amount of resident fish, with some larger ones being a possibility. Nymphing and streamer fishing can be productive all winter long, but what really brings me here is the potential for dry fly fishing on any winter day. Look for midge hatches through the middle of the day for some fun winter dry fly fishing options.
The Colorado River at Parshall:
I will add this section to the list since I have been talking about dry fly fishing. With the Williams Fork tailwater emptying into Colorado, this keeps this section fishing well with plenty of open water and food being delivered to the fish. This warmer open water produces some great bug activity, firing up the fish's feeding activity. This can also produce consistent midge hatches daily, so don't rule out catching more fish on dries than subsurface.
The William Fork below Williams Fork Reservoir:
Since we are fishing the Colorado River below the confluence of the Williams Fork, we might as well make the walk up into the Williams Fork. This is small water, so take your time as you move up the river. The fish can spook easily, and I have found many fish live where you might not expect them to. So fish any deeper spot and take a slow, methodical approach. As you move up the river, look for fishing rising in some of the deeper and slower sections.
The Wild Card- The Roaring Fork below Basalt to Glenwood Springs:
This river stays right in the same spot as the last report. Not only does it have some amazing year-round fishing with hungry trout. But keeping with the dry fly theme, there can be daily midge hatches allowing you to cast dry flies to rising trout on any given day.
I tend to use smaller and sparser patterns when I am fishing streamers in the winter. This fly meets all of my winter streamer criteria with its sparse tye and then just enough weight with it's tungsten beard to get down to the fish fast.
This is the classic midge dry fly. It's hard to beat this pattern for winter dry fly fishing. This fly can represent a single midge or midge cluster. There are also high vis options, and you can always fish it as the smaller fly in a double dry setup. I recommend having this pattern in your fly box from size 18 - 22.
When the trout seem to refuse your Griffiths Gnat, this might be the pattern to get the fish to eat. This pattern is tied very sparse but looks so realistic on the water it will not only fool the fish, but you might have a hard time telling your fly from the naturals. This is only available at our Trouts Denver and Frisco locations! Call the shop to order today!
I tend to fish basic colors in the winter months, and this pattern is a favorite in my winter midge box. It looks like many of the midge larvae in many Colorado rivers with its gray color. Then add the glass bead for a bit of flash, and this pattern attracts the fish and can also look like an emerging midge.
This pattern with the bit of flash adds an attribute that I tend to fish on my nymphing rigs on at least one of my patterns. The little bit of flash can attract the fish's attention and look like a midge emergence. I like all the colors, but I would choose the zebra if I had one color to choose from.
The Blue River at Highway 9 Bridge below Breckenridge- 20.2 CFS
The Blue River Below Dillon Reservoir- 68.8 CFS
The Colorado at Kremmling- 346 CFS CFS
The Williams Fork below Williams Fork Reservoir- 61.6 CFS
The Roaring Fork at Emma- 201 CFS
The Roaring Fork at Glenwood Springs- 384 CFS
The Arkansas at Granite- 142 CFS
The Arkansas at Salida- 239 CFS
The Arkansas at Wellsville- 259 CFS
It finally seems like we left the warmer temperatures behind for a while. Those temperatures were pleasant, but we really needed the change in the weather, with some snow storms moving through Colorado regularly. Right now, that change seems to be in effect with storms coming through a couple times a week as opposed to once a week or every couple of weeks. So look for colder and snowier weather for the next month, and make sure you plan accordingly with your travel and fishing destinations.