We are entering the heart of great summer fishing on our high country waters. Above average, clearing flows, impressive hatches, and fish eager to eat dry flies, streamers, and nymphs, alike. It’s hard to go wrong with any river, small stream, stillwater, or high mountain lake in the state at this point. There's a lot to love about summer fishing, but the amount of time you can be on the water is certainly one of my favorite aspects. Let’s say I have a slow start to my morning or need to get some stuff done in town, if I’m on the water by 12-1 PM, I still have 8 to 9 hours on the water. That 8 hours includes "magic hour." While that summer sun can beat you down over the course of the day, I’ve certainly never regretted spending that extra hour on the water. Bottom line is: Summer is great.
This weekend, a great deal of cloud cover is projected, as well as some precipitation (be prepared with the right jacket for the conditions). With this weather in the forecast, be prepared for variable conditions. Cloud cover tends to cause trout to eat streamers and dry flies better than during high sun days. Generally, fish are more willing to come out of their mid-day hiding spots and eat with a little less worry of threat from above when those clouds are blocking the sun. With that in mind, here are my thoughts on fishing this weekend.
South Platte at Deckers/Cheesman - Looking to stay relatively close to town? With flows elevated to approximately 494 cfs, the South Platte continues to be an amazing option this time of year. With the elevated flows, don’t be afraid to avoid that pesky 6x in your bag and throw 3, 4 and 5x all day long. From PMDs to Tricos there are plenty of bugs to choose from right now. You can take advantage of these flows in various ways. If you want to throw dries, Chubby Chernobyls, Hippie Stompers and Amy's Ants have been creating some exciting strikes. Smaller dries, PMDs, Caddis and Tricos during the hatches have produced really good results. As for nymphing the high water really gives you a bunch of options that will all work, San Juan Worms, Leeches, PMD Emergers, Trico Cripples/Emergers and an assortment of Caddis and other Baetis emergers are all producing right now.
Upper Eagle River - The Eagle is a great summertime option. With precipitation predicted throughout the weekend, staying higher up in this drainage would be advised. The lower Eagle tends to blow out with any amount of precipitation. Be prepared to throw the gamut at these healthy freestone fish and you should be rewarded. I've had some of my best luck on the Eagle during these bad weather days.
Upper Arkansas River - What the Arkansas River fish lack in size, they make up for in willingness to eat dry flies. Work every imaginable piece of holding water and hang on. These fish are deceptively strong and the significant slope of the Arkansas certainly helps provide a good fight on a four-weight. No big surprises here with regards to fly choice. Big, fluffy dries, PMDs, caddis, and terrestrials should all produce. Staying higher in the drainage,
Small Streams and Tributaries - Looking for a little solitude and fish more than willing to eat a big dry fly, choose a random small blue line that flows into one of our major rivers (like Gore Creek and Homestake Creek on the Eagle) and enjoy (after ensuring that you’re on public land). Amy’s Ants, Stimulators, Parachute Adams, Elk Hair Caddis, Morrish Hoppers, Chubby Chernobyls, frankly any terrestrial with foam will produce eager takes from modest fish. If the precip keeps the fish from eating on the surface, a small thin mint or woolly bugger should do the trick. There’s certainly something to be said for the appetite of a fish that only eats for three months out of the year...and we’re in the middle of those three months.