With the holiday weekend fast approaching, this water year may have you guessing where will have the best fishing. Flows are as low as I can remember for May, a drastic difference from a year ago, and we may have warm water temps by July. For now fishing is good to great across the state with bugs really starting to get active. Hatches are getting more diverse and things are really heating up on some rivers. Here is a short list of what you may find across the state.
- Randy Hicks
The Colorado Salmonflies have been hatching since Mothers Day. Mothers Day used to signify caddis on the Arkansas; not anymore. Big rubber leg nymphs will take fish from Pumphouse to Byers Canyon, and smaller caddis larvae or pheasant tails are great to drop below. Byers will be the best spot to try some large Salmonfly dries. Hang a sexi legged stone about 20 inches below. The hatch is about over, but the big bugs will still work. Caddis larvae are all over the bottom of the river, and small mayfly nymphs will take fish after the hatch has come through. Look for Caddis and PMD's to be the next event on the Raddy.
Cicadas have started to move in Cheeseman Canyon, and while just starting, this can be an exciting time if things stay hot and dry. Flows above 200 cfs are good for larger dry dropper rigs, which is definitely outside the box for Cheeseman. Try a black PMX with a stone below in the faster water, close to larger boulders, or gravel bar drop offs. Caddis larva, caddis pupa, and sparkle wing RS2's are also great flies to be dropped off larger stonefly or Cicada dries. If flows stay above 200 cfs the terrestrial fishing could be good this summer in Cheeseman. Hot and dry is what they like, and there are tons of hoppers on the Gill Trail already.
The Roaring Fork will most likely start to see drakes before the middle of June, but for now they are getting a mix of midges, mayflies, and caddis. Nymphing has been best on the fork with stones, caddis, and flashy mayflies like the BLM or the BTS. Hopper Dropper with a tungsten twenty incher below has been a standard set up on the lower Fork as the drake nymphs start to get nervous. Good caddis hatches in the evening are pulling some fish up to the surface, but you need to skate it for the most success. The Pan has BWO's over its entire length, and the lower flows are making for some good dry fly fishing, but be sure to have your 6x.
Caddis on the Arkansas are still lingering, but the blanket hatch has come and gone. Fishing has been great with nymph rigs or dry droppers. Try stones, caddis larva, caddis pupa, and flashy mayfly nymphs. The cold tail water influences of the Arkansas will make this a good destination deep into summer. Flows here are running much lower than last year, and the dry fly fishing is well ahead of schedule. The broad Salida valley is a great spot to hit the Ark, and hiking into Browns Canyon is a great way to get away from the crowds. Look for the hopper fishing to be great this year as the trend seems to be hot and dry this time.
The season is weeks if not a month ahead of a normal year, and while this is making for some excellent angling opportunities right now, things may be difficult on some rivers come July and August. Look to the tail waters as late season destinations where cooler waters will keep the bugs hatching and the fish on the feed. Larger rivers with irrigation draws may be tough come July. I hate flood irrigators.