Guide to Winter Floating: The Colorado River
If you thought it was too late to float the Colorado River... You were Wrong!
Author: Chris Fildes, Regional Store Manager, Trouts Frisco
Where: So how far west on the Colorado are we talking? A little further west than Glenwood Springs area. A lot of us may be thinking about using the South Canyon boat ramp but it generally closes around November 15th and reopens May 15th, so moving down river a little bit further is going to be a better option. Newcastle to Silt - is a 7.5 Mile Float that has some great structure and deep runs along it where some of those fish hold during these winter months. Silt to Riffle - 9+ Miles offers some similar settings. The best time to put in is around 10:30AM - 11:00AM and float til about 4:00pm - Sunset.
Approach: The majority of success generally comes from those deeper drop-offs, hugging the bank with your raft or drift boat. Fish drop-offs with deeper nymph rigs, that I will discuss below. While floating with Zeke Hersh - Trouts Frisco’s Head Guide, we primarily rowed through the shallower runs. This is solely seasonal strategy. Given the cold temps of the water the fish migrate to the deep/slower water so to avoid constant hang ups it’s easier to just Push Through it.
Winter Float Rig: 9ft 3X leaders with heavier tippets around the 3X to 4X range are a safe starting point. The spook factor of these fish is pretty non-existent when nymphing those deeper drop offs. Dial in your weights as well and make sure you're getting down where you need to be. Split sizes that we fished ranged from No. 1 to No 4’s. Productive patterns to have in your box include: Yellow Sally Nymphs (UV Sally, Tung. Rubber Leg Sallie), Eggs - Trout Beads 6mm - 8mm sized or other Egg variations. Colors vary but yellow, chartreuse, and peach are great choices, Midges - Larger Tungsten Zebra Midges work fantastic down there #12, #14, #16, Worms - Bead Head Worms (G-String Worm, Gummy Worms, Cannons Worms, San Juan Worms).
Gear to help you out there:
Loon Stanley’s Ice Off Paste - Significantly helps if you apply it throughout the day to keep that ice from building up on your guides
Gloves - Foldover mitts are the best - Simms Exstream Foldover Mitts
Hand Towel - Dry those hands before you throw em back in your gloves!