July 22-July 25
Flow: 2500 dropping to 2200cfs (at Glenwood Springs)
Clarity: Clear and Green
Weather: Clear and Sunny
This past Friday-Monday I got a chance to head up to the Roaring Fork Valley and fish all over the Fork. Travis and I drove up Friday afternoon with a plan to float the Eagle which was quickly shut down because of a lack of campsites in the Vail Valley, so we headed towards Basalt and found our campsite for the night.
We camped on Friday at the trashy RV Park behind the Carbondale boat ramp, which is only walking distance from the river. We didn’t get unloaded until about 7:30pm, so we walked to the boat ramp and fished around it until dark. The water was a bit high for this time of year, but it is clear and the typical freestone green color. The river looks like it’s in great shape. Right off the bat while walking to the river, I notice a caddis hatch of epic proportions. Caddis were everywhere, in your ears, mouth, crawling all over your hat, it was awesome. Only bad part was, the fish weren’t really keyed in on them. We nymphed with large Rubberlegs stoneflies (aka Cat Poo), Prince nymphs, Twenty Incher stoneflies, and larger Soft Hackle P-Tails. In our 1.5 hour window of daylight, we moved and landed a few fish. We tried to night fish a bit with headlamps since we saw a decent number of Green Drakes hatching, but it wasn’t working out. We had a few fish eat, but without being able to see, the hooksets are tough. We only landed a couple on Drake patterns like H&L Variants and BDE Drakes.
On Saturday, we wade fished the early morning around Glenwood Springs before putting in the boat to float from Carbondale to Two Rivers Park. There was a lot of boat traffic at Carbondale, but the fish didn’t seem to mind. We started out nymphing and broke a nice fish off right off the bat, within sight of the boat ramp, so Travis decided to throw streamers rather than re-rig. The streamer bite just wasn’t there so it was back to nymphing for us. We stopped and wade fished most of the islands, and found plenty of fish sitting in the inside seams and slower pockets along the banks. Short and heavy nymph rigs with flies like Pat’s Rubberlegs, Princes, Twenty Inches, Sparkle Worms, Hotwire Princes, and Soft Hackle PTs all moved fish. One thing we did notice while nymphing out of the boat was the need to get your flies down fast, as the Fork is a high gradient river that comes at your very fast. We messed around with 90 degree rigs and they definitely helped in getting the fly down fast. That said, a fair amount of split shot was necessary.
The best fishing seemed to be from about 4PM until dark. We saw the thick caddis hatches like the night before, and the fish were ALL OVER caddis in the lower river. We decided to stop in Glenwood and have a few beers before floating the last 2 miles of river since we wanted to catch fish on dries. I made Travis row (Ha!) so I could fish the caddis hatch. Fish were all over the simple combo of Pearl and Elk Caddis in size 14 trailed by a Black or Tan Puterbaugh’s Caddis in Size 14. If you could hit the bank and give your flies one small skate, the fish would eat. It was a lot of fun to see, and we pulled the boat out in the dark.
On Saturday, we decided to head up to Basalt to get some breakfast and do some wade fishing right in town. We met up with Brandon Soucie, a friend of CSO who happens to be a Basalt native and guide for Taylor Creek. The knowledge that Brandon has of the Roaring Fork is absolutely ridiculous. He took us on the tour of Basalt and we wade fished all of his spots. It seemed like we would pull a few fish out of a run, and Brandon would bat cleanup after we thought we had cleaned it out. If anyone is planning a trip up to the Roaring Fork Valley, stop in at Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt (www.taylorcreek.com), because those guys know the area better than anyone.
Brandon took off around noon since he had to guide a trip, but Travis and I stayed and wade fished the Fork. While we were walking across a bridge, we saw one of the coolest things I have ever seen since I’ve been fishing.
There was a small spring fed creek about as wide as a one lane road that was crystal clear, full of big rainbows, and tons of bugs!!
We tried everything from beetles to ants to midges, and only had one fish act ually eat. We went as small as size 26 Parachute Adams, and they still would refuse it! After the frustration of small dries, I decided to run an Olive Slumpbuster through the creek, and after a few follows, and nice Rainbow finally committed and ate it! It was fun to see the eat in that clear water.
We headed out of Basalt that afternoon on our way up to the Upper Colorado. It was a great trip to the Roaring Fork, and although the water is a lot higher than normal for this time of year, there are still plenty of fish to be had both wade and float fish ing! Give it a shot!
What you need for the Roaring Fork:
9′ 5 or 6 weight rod
9ft 3x Leader
3x and 4x Fluorocarbon Tippet
BB and AB Split Shot
#08-#16 Prince Nymphs
#10-#12 Twenty Inchers
#16 Hotwire Prince Nymphs
#12-14 Red, Pink, and Tan Worms
#14-18 Soft Hackle Pheasant Tails
#14-16 Puterbaugh’s Caddis
#14-16 Pearl and Elk Caddis
#10-14 Green Drake Patterns (various)