It is shaping up to be a beautiful Colorado spring weekend and there is no better time to be on the water. Weather across the high country looks to be in the high 70s with some sun on Saturday and are predicted to be in the lower 70s with clouds in the morning turning into PM thunderstorms on Sunday. While runoff is one of my favorite times to fish, we have a nice window this weekend before the flows really start to elevate. The smaller caddis, blue wing olives and midges of spring are still in play with these current flows and dry flies should definitely be on the menu with this Sunday cloud cover. Get out there this weekend and take advantage of all the great fishing that Colorado has to offer!
The Arkansas River (up and downstream of Salida): A bit of a no brainer...the much anticipated caddis hatch is in full swing and if the clouds show up on Sunday, blue wing olives should be on the menu as well. The hatches aren't the main reason the Arkansas made this list. The flows have stayed relatively consistent and are relatively low for this time of year. At Salida, the Arkansas is flowing at 352 cfs. With reports of caddis activity, lower flows, and the fact that Arkansas River brown trout are some of the most beautiful trout in the state makes the Arkansas a no-brainer. Some of the boys from the Frisco shop floated Bighorn Sheep Canyon earlier this week and reported the fish were looking up and in prime form. Don't be afraid to test the Arkansas River trout's gumption and throw a big foam hopper or Stimulator. You'll be surprised by their reaction. Otherwise, if you hit the caddis hatch, fish #16 black/olive foam caddis or #18/16 regular olive/brown elk hair should work during the hatch. On Sunday, be prepared with #18-#20 parachutes and film critics.
The Colorado River: Spring is my favorite time to fish our namesake river. Whether the flows are normalized and fish are eating blue wings on a cloudy day or the flows bump up and the fish start to crush streamers, the Colorado is a go-to in the spring. With the cooler weather over the past week, the flows on the Colorado have dropped. At Kremmling, the flows have dropped from a little below 1100 cfs to a little above 900 cfs. With the expected weekend temps, I would expect flows to bump a little bit. So, from this streamer junkies perspective, there would be no better place to be throwing streamers than the Colorado River this weekend. I like to start my day swinging streamers through likely runs, into softer edge water and banks as I work my way downstream. Usually I'll have a couple beers in the pack and will crack those open if and when I hit a mid-day lull. Maybe I'll take a nap, enjoy my surroundings, let the dog run off some steam, finish those beers and then start to fish my way back upstream to the access. I'm typically not a fan of reworking water I've already fished, but when those flows start to elevate and the clarity starts to decrease, resting the water with a couple of beers and working back through it can be super productive.
11 Mile - Flows are at 74.3 cfs in the canyon. Some of the best spring dry fly action in the state can be had in 11-Mile Canyon and that's why this stretch of the South Platte makes this list. If you are fishing the upper stretch of the canyon, especially on Sunday, BWOs BWOs BWOs should be on your mind. I like BWOs and so should you. 11-Mile Canyon should be on fire with the Sunday clouds. Did I mention Sunday clouds?
Williams Fork - Flows at the Williams Fork look like a flat line. An even 100 cfs for the last week. But, that doesn't mean action on this Colorado trib is dead. As the temps continue to warm up with highs in high 70s this weekend, hatches of Blue Wings and Midges continue to become of increasing importance. Sunday would be a prime time to catch the blue-wing hatch with clouds expected in the morning and PM thunderstorms as the day progresses. With weather comes clouds and with clouds comes Blue Wing Olives. The Williams Fork is always a great option if you want a little bit of peace and quiet while on the river, as the casual hike-in definitely cuts down on the fishing pressure on this central Colorado gem.