It sure feels good to get on the other side of the holidays and into a new year. The good news so far is that we finally received the snowfall we have needed badly. This may have kept you off the water in the last couple of weeks, but the hope is that this snowpack will keep us on the water this spring, summer, and fall with some good flows and cold water. Let’s keep that snow flying for the months to come. Even with this snow, I have managed a few days on the water with some double sport days. Now I am looking to venture out a bit and search for some fish in some lower altitude river valleys.
The Blue below Dillon Reservoir: We talked about it in the last report and with it’s close proximity to Summit Counties ski resorts, this is a go-to double sport location. Just the other week myself and a few friends got to enjoy one of these days. Look for the deeper runs and pools and be ready to nymph with small nymphs and midges. You also might run into a midge hatch and be able to fish dry flies and I have also been hearing some reports of fish being caught on small streamers.
The Blue above Dillon Reservoir: With some lower altitude river valleys coming up in this forecast. I wanted to highlight a higher altitude river that can fish well all winter long. A bonus as well, is it’s close proximity to the Summit County ski areas. The water is small, so think lightweight nymph or dry dropper setups. Also, look for fish rising to midge hatches and might also be able to catch a few on streamer patterns.
The Colorado River at Parshall: This section is a must fish location in the winter months. The sheer amount of fish is pretty enticing, then add a second river, the Williams Fork in close proximity and you have a neat experience. Fishing these two very different Colorado tailwaters can be a fun challenge. The nymphing on both rivers will be your go-to set up, but the Colorado has rising fish to midges on most days through the winter months.
The Arkansas around Salida: Many of you know of my love for fishing the Arkansas in the winter months. Not only do you tend to get some warmer temperatures but the water tends to be free flowing most of the time and the fish stack up in the deeper runs and pools. All of this makes for a great winter fishing experience. Most days will be best for nymph fishing. But if you spend your time and find those nooks and crannies where fish are rising, catching a fish on a dry is not out of the question.
The Wild Card*- The Colorado River below Glenwood Springs: Even as we are talking about the prospect of more snow in the mountains to pad our snowpack and offer some powder days. The alternative prospect of breaking the boat out and floating the lower Colorado river is a real opportunity this time of year. Lately, the day time temperatures have been decently warm as well as the overnight temperatures. This has been offering some great flows with minimal ice flow and bank ice. Nymphing will also be your go-to technique, but I have definitely caught fish on streamers and dry flies this time of year.
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This is a great pattern that comes in various colors and sizes, so it can fish small and light in its smaller sizes and attract a lot of attention in the larger sizes. Having a good selection of colors in their various sizes will pay off on the river. This fly casts a bit easier with its single hook design, but sinks and swims well to get down to the fish and attract their attention. You really can’t go wrong with any of the colors, but I am a fan of black and purple and white and gold.
Yeah, I do fish “junk”, and this time of year you should have a good selection of these “junk” flies in your fly box. After all, the fish are looking for calories in the winter months and an egg is a perfect form of these calories. This time of year I will fish an egg as one of my attractors and I tend to fish the Oregon Cheese color.
The extra heavy version is a favorite of mine but mostly in the winter months. The reason being is I like to nymph the size #14 or #16 on many days. This pattern sinks fast and gets the fish's attention with its flash. If these sizes aren’t working try fishing the smaller patterns. It’s not too many days in the winter where I don’t catch a fish or at least try to on a Rainbow Warrior.
This is a great pattern as your last midge or nymph in your nymphing setup. With the tungsten bead, it gets to the fish quickly, then with the flash tied on the side, it offers something that looks a little different for the fish. Lastly, add in the curved nymph hook and you will get solid hookups all day long.
I like to fish this pattern in its smaller sizes in the winter months. Think sizes #18-#22. This pattern looks super buggy in the water and in those small sizes can represent everything from small midges to small stoneflies and mayflies.
The Blue River at Highway 9 Bridge below Breckenridge- 19.2 CFS
The Blue River Below Dillon Reservoir- 79.2 CFS
The Colorado at Kremmling- 503 CFS CFS
The Williams Fork below Williams Fork Reservoir- 81.4 CFS
The Arkansas at Salida- 345 CFS
The Arkansas at Wellsville- 371 CFS
The Roaring Fork at Glenwood Springs- 398 CFS
The Colorado at Glenwood Springs- 1230 CFS
The next couple of weeks we will have weaker cold fronts moving through Colorado once a week. Daytime highs will be in the thirties and forties and nighttime temps will be in the teens and twenties. Making for some great winter fly fishing temperatures. As we move towards and into February, it is expected to start to see more intense winter weather and snow patterns. So get out in the next couple of weeks and check out some of these Colorado winter fishing opportunities.