Upper Colorado River: Pumphouse to Catamount

Upper Colorado River: Pumphouse to Catamount

Hecky and a nice rainbow between Radium and Rancho in the deep stuff on a #18 BH Stalcop’s Baetis (grey)

Dave Olsen of Parker, CO and a nice brown out of the fast stuff below Pumphouse on a #14 Hot Wire Prince


Good Scenery at Pumphouse…


BAD SCENERY BELOW RADIUM!!! A few guys in this raft must have lost a bet (or so we hope that’s what it was!)

Flow: 1,300 CFS
Water Temps: 50-55
Clarity: Slightly cloudy Monday-Thursday, off color on Friday
Peak Fishing: Fish are active from 10AM on. No need to get out super early
Overall Rating: Good-Excellent.  70+ chances, 40 hook ups, 30+ fish boated everyday.

Point Flies: #6-8 Rubber Legs (brown or coffee/black), San Juan Worm in tan or wine in clear water (pink or rusty in off color water), #10 Prince Nymph, #8-12 Twenty Incher Stone, #8-12 BH Black Bugger
Trailer Flies: #12-16 Hot Wire Prince, #10-12 Rubber Legs, #16-18 Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail, #18  BH Stalcop’s Beatis in grey, olive and brown.
Dry Flies: #18-20 Parachute Adams, 12-14 PMX and other small rubber legged attractors
Streamers: #4-6 Rubber Buggers (bright colors), Sculpzilla (olive or black)
Leaders/Tippet/Rigging: 9ft 3x leaders, 2x-5x tippet, AB, BB & 1 size split shot.  Weight, length and fly selection really depends on the water type you are fishing and is the difference between catching a few fish and a lot of fish.  As a rule of thumb 5 feet indicator to weight, two BB split shot, three fly rig, 14 inch spacing, 3x to the first fly, 4x to the middle fly, 4x or 5x to the third fly.

Where the Fish Are: The fish are spread through out the river at this time in virtually every type of water.  This means if it looks fishy there is a a fish there.  IT also means that since the fish are spread out, you can’t expect to hit a pile of fish in every spot.  I generally look to fish the water that best matches the rig we have on at a given time.  If I’m short and heavy I look towards the soft spots inside of rapids, edges of gravel bars, and banks with good structure.  If we are long and heavy I look towards the middle of the runs, deep seams and tailouts.  Smaller flies in the deep slow stuff, bigger/heavier flies in the fast water.

9/12/11 Radium to Rancho (7 Miles)
Fished Radium to Rancho with Mike Patchett and his brother. This was there first time floating and they both did exceptionally well! We had  Great fishing start to finish.  Hit the edges of gravel bars at radium and moved into the deeper stuff just above the canyon mouth.  River right below Yarmoni was exceptionally good to us, hit fish on long drifts in the slow water just above Rancho.

9/13/11 Statebridge to Catamount (14 Miles)
Fished State to Cat with long time clients and friends Rich DaMato and Mark Lazwell. Fishing was a little slow out of the gate, and since it is such a long float we had the sticks down spot to spot and didn’t back row much of anything.  We found fish to be consistently in the 13-15″ range which is about 3 inches smaller on average than the water above State.  Streamer bite was hot at times but most fish were taken on nymphs.  More fish along the edges and inside of seams then on the upper where fish are on the far outside of the runs and in the middle.

9/14/11 Radium to State 11 Miles
An absolutely banner day with Hecky Heckendorf of Denver.  Lots of fish and lots of big fish.  We were also greated with pods of  fish rising to BWO’s which all ate a #18 Parachute Adams.    Congrats to Hecky on a 20+ rainbow with girth I have not seen in a very long time.  Also congrats must go to Jack who picked off a great 18″ rainbow sipping dries in the flat water.  These fish require a long and perfect cast which he made.

9/15/11 Radium to Rancho (7 Miles)
Fished with repeat clients Mark Webber and Derron Fricke of Aurora, CO.  Fishing was a little slower than usual from radium to canyon mouth but fished lights out from Yarmoni rapids to the take out at Rancho.  The new gravel bars that formed during high water this year in the flat sections were simply on fire.  The deep slots right above the takeout at Rancho produced fish nearly every pass through.  A really fun day…Nice job guys!

9/16/11 Pumhouse to Radium (12 Miles)
Fished with Dave Olsen of Parker and had the pleasure of showing him the Colorado on his first float trip.  The section from Pumphouse to canyon mouth had been slow up until today, but I was happy to see it fish extremely well!  Deep and heavy in the middle and on the drop offs was the name of the game up top.  The canyon also fished well on the inside of rapids and in the soft spots between rapids (short and heavy).  The islands above radium fished well by setting up your drift above the submerged portions of islands on the upstream side.  This is a bit of a guessing game. Just imagine what the river would look like with no water and try and find those edges of the island that extend upstream but are submerged.   Radium to rancho fished well right down the middle of the gravy train.

It’s time to nail down your 2024 fly fishing trip with Minturn Anglers.

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Justin Nolan

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