Fly Fishing during the winter months often consists of the same set up day after day and that setup generally includes a bobber and some type of midge imitation. Of course changing out your lead egg fly for a small BWO or Stonefly occurs but 90% of the time we are staring at a bobber waiting for a strike. And why wouldn’t we? this is an extremely effective method to get the rod bent and the net wet. But there are those times when the mercury rises to the right temperature and we start to see rising fish. Timing these sometime short periods can be difficult but when it happens we are allowed to cast dries in the middle of winter to rising trout. This happens a lot on tailwater rivers where water temperature is more consistent but we also see a lot of surface activity on freestone rivers like, the Roaring Fork and Eagle River. Both of these drainages can create some amazing midge hatches and sometimes they are significant enough to bring, what seems like, every fish to the surface. During the last few weeks of warm weather I brought my camera instead of a fly rod and tried to capture trout eating naturals during the peak of the day. It was interesting to observe their behavior and it was also challenging not to spook the fish such low clear water. All of these fish we filmed along the Eagle River in different locations and while I wasn’t able to find a prolific midge hatch there were enough bugs on the water to keep it consistent. This is something that we are fortunate enough to have here in Colorado, I know anglers back East who would love to be able to cast dries year round to rising trout. Although it can be a total pain in the rear to change your whole set up for a couple rising fish give it a try the next time you see a few risers. It can be a very rewarding experience to catch a trout selectively eating midges off the surface….in the middle of winter.
The Patagonia nano puff or should I say a mini sleeping bag that fits in my wallet, is one of my favorite articles of outdoor clothing. The super lightweight highly compressible material is perfect for insulating during winter fly fishing or a cool summer evening. The Nano Puff is not bulky at all and fits under your outer layer with style. Another bonus is that they come in some bright colors that will lighten up your drab fly fishing outfits. Bright green, orange and blue are a couple of my favorites.
I fell into the Alagnak River in AK a few years ago with my nano puff on. Not just a little damp, I fell into the river off a boat and had to swim to shore. I was amazed how quickly my Nano Puff dried out and kept me warm until we reached camp later that day. I would recommend this article of clothing to anyone looking to beef up their layering system.
Nano Puff In The Alaskan Bush.
Colorado has been in a dry weather pattern for the last couple weeks. The temps have been in the high 30″s in the high country and reaching the 60’s in Denver. After a cool down tonight the warmer weather should be back for the weekend. If you want to run into people you can always find fish on one of the many tailwater rivers around the state. For some reason I feel like telling you to go to the Taylor River this weekend and see if you can find a fat Mysis fed Rainbow Trout in the catch and release section. In fact if I was a single guy I might do that. Otherwise if you want to get out of the city the Eagle River is still fishing well. I have been seeing a lot of bigger midges and small BWO’s in the afternoon and fish are rising to them. You will find warmer temps on the front range so the South Platte or Arkansan below Pueblo should be rockin’. I would try and stay away from the Roaring Fork this weekend. Although the fishing has been solid in the Roaring Fork Valley the X- Games are in town and there will be a ton of Traffic on HWY 82. Good luck out there. Send us your fish pics from the weekend.
When I think of my winter fly box I get depressed. A bunch of tiny flies my eyes can barely. Midges, Midges and Midges. Then of course there are the eggs. The standard setup you will see on a guides rod this time of year is a bobber, a weight and egg trailed by a midge. This setup works very well and I am sure I have a rod rigged with that setup right now. But if you are looking for something a little different look for these few patterns next time you’re in the shop.
Number one the Micro May. This little guy rocks on those warmer winter days when the water temps warm up. If you fish over on the Roaring Fork River you know exactly what I am talking about. The micro may is an excellent lead fly. Trail a Midge Emerger behind it and watch your bobber dance.
Number two Roy Palms Special Emerger. Fish it wet or fish it dry. This goofy looking little fella with an orange shuck has put dollar bills in my pocket. Originally designed for the Frying Pan River but works everywhere.
Number Three RS2. If you don’t have any of these in your box stop reading now and go buy them. Black, Grey or Olive this is a fly I buy or tie by the dozens. A simple bug but very very effective on tailwater and freestone rivers alike.
These flies are not in specific order just how they came to mind. They are all good flies and ones that I always have in my box. Next time you are shopping for Colorado Winter Flies throw some of the above in your fly box. You will not be disappointed.
With all the recent snowfall over the past 10 days what are you going to do this weekend? Hit the lift lines or enjoy a quite river. That is a tough call but with two days off I am sure you can find time for both. If you find yourself in the Vail Valley much of the Lower Eagle River is open and fishing well. The “hood” on the Lower Eagle has easements and a lot of water to fish. Bring your midges but don’t be afraid to dredge some bigger bugs down deep. I will be on the Eagle for the next couple days so you might run into me.
Rainbow Trout Colorado
If your are in Aspen, the The Roaring Fork River has been weather dependent. The upper stretches have some ice and fishing has been slow. I would still give it a go if you are in the Roaring Fork Valley. Tie on a MIcro May Nymph and hit the pockets on the upper river. The Frying Pan is rocking as normal. Get there early. With the weather forecast being sunny and warm I am sure the Frying Pan will be busy.
Brown Trout – Rainbow Trout
Front Rangers the South Platte River is fishing decent. The flows below Eleven Mile have bumped a bit which should get some fish and aquatic insects moving around. Blue-winged olives and midges should get you a tug on the string.
Wherever you go have fun and be safe. You can always check the fly fishing reports when you are looking for river updates.
Fly Fishing during the winter months in Colorado can be a great time to be on the water. Although many of our freestone rivers tend to freeze, an angler can find open water on one of our many Tailwater Rivers like the Frying Pan, Yampa, Blue or Southplatte.
Frying Pan River Rainbow Trout
Although we are blessed with these waters they are not always the closest stretches to reach. Often times these rivers can be a couple hours or more away. And since they are open and boast large numbers of fish they also attract a lot of anglers. There is nothing worse than making a long drive to find the river extremely crowded. If a tailwater is on your winter fishing list I would recommend leaving early and staking your claim. Bundle up too. A lot of these tailwater rivers are in shaded areas and only get so much sun (if any) a day.
Mid Frying Pan River
Be sure to check the reports before heading to the river. Although the flows of a tailwater tend to stay steady during the winter the hatches can vary and fishing can slow down during a damn release or shut down. These cold clean rivers can be very rewarding to a hearty angler who can bear the cold during the long winter. Tailwater fisheries have an abundances of insect life and keep the resident trout fat and happy, even during the coldest winter months. With all the aquatic insect life to choose from these fish can be very picky as well. Having a box full of midges in a many different colors can make the difference between a banner day and a mediocre one. Like above mentioned the water is also very very clear so having tippet in the 5x-7x range is a must. Sometimes using a lighter rod is beneficial when using lighter tippet, but that is another discussion. A lot of these tailwater fisheries have trout in the 8-10 lb range with even bigger trout being caught each year.
Frying Pan Brown Trout – Colorado
The Frying Pan and Taylor River are both famous for it’s large Mysis fed trout. Nymphing is a great technique employed during the cold of winter, but midge hatches can be prolific giving the fly angler the opportunity to catch fish on small dry flies during the winter. If the snow brings you to Colorado for the skiing don’t over look the fly fishing. It is a good way to skip the lift lines and ice down your tired legs after hitting the hill. You might even get lucky and land the trophy trout you see in magazines.
The skiing certainly is not there so you might as well hit the river this weekend. After our serious amount of snowfall before Thanksgiving, winter decided to take a break and grant us with spring like conditions in the Mountains. This is not great for the ski industry or our snowpack but until the white stuff falls the only thing we can do is enjoy the sunny weather. Despite the warm mid-day temps the over night lows have been very cold putting some slush in the rivers early in the morning. So do not jump out of bed to be the first one on the river. Fly Fishing this time of year is much better from 11 am to 2 pm. I feel like a broken record but nymphing with an egg midge combo still is going to get your bobber to wiggle. If you are sick of staring at the goat nut try swinging midge emergers in shallow tail outs. This can be very effective especially if fish are suspended. This is a good way to break up the monotony of nymph fishing and you can usually just swing what you are nymphing with. Take the bobber and weight off and start casting 45 degrees down stream and wait for the grab….BRO. You will certainly lose more fish than you hook but it is fun to feel a fish tapping your fly. Skiing is lame go fly fishing.
Cold, Snow and Wind is what you will be facing this weekend on the water. At least in the high country. Denver is looking a little less chilly but cold none the less. If you have to get out this weekend you should find solitude on many Colorado Rivers. It continues to Snow so the ski hills will be packed and the rivers quiet. With the colder temps I would focus on finding a tailwater that is nearby. When temps plummet into the single and negative digits a lot of anchor ice can build up on the freestone rivers. The Frying Pan has a good flow right now and you could catch ’em on dries if you are sick of staring at the bobber. Be careful driving on the Frying Pan Road. All the snow has made the road narrower and the blind corners are deadly. No need to rush. The river will still be there.
They just bumped up the Blue River below Dillion so that will get some fish moving around. The crowds are always a gamble on the Blue especially on the weekend. If you choose to go, I’d fish through the outlets, you will probably find some big rainbows eating Mysis Shrimp. The pattern seen here is a Umpqua Fly that I find to be effective. If you stare at it long enough it starts to look really “shrimpy.” Have fun out there and be careful on the snowy roads.