The fishing west of Denver  and Vail has been great recently with the warmer weather, increased flows, and increased bug activity.  I had a chance to get up to the Roaring Fork, Frying Pan, and Colorado rivers this past week and I was definitely rewarded.

Roaring Fork
The Roaring Fork from Carbondale downstream to the confluence with the Colorado River has seen increased flows from the warm temperatures which means that the river is ice free and floatable.  If you have a boat, put in at Carbondale and get ready for a bent rod.  If you don’t have the luxury of floating the river, wade fishing can be just as productive.  Focus your time on the deeper holes in the morning and wait for fish to move into the faster riffles and runs.  Stoneflies like 20 inchers, Princes, and Pat’s Rubberleg were taking fish, as well as eggs and smaller BWO nymphs. After the confluence with the Crystal, choose bigger, brighter, and flashier flies as the water has a little color to it.  The same flies as above and pink worms, as well as Soft Hackle PTs were taking fish on the lower river.  Don’t be afraid to throw big, ugly, and heavy streamers (Slumpbusters, Zuddlers, and Vanilla Buggers) in the afternoon in the slower water below the airport.


West of Vail - Frying Pan Minturn Anglers
Sight Fishing on the Flats at the Fryingpan

The flow on the Fryingpan has recently jumped to 135 and the fishing is phenomenal. While all the crazies snag fish in the Toilet Bowl, take a look at the flats as some of the bigger fish are moving out of the Bend Pool and staging up to spawn.  The typical Mysis patterns such as Epoxy Mysis and BTS Mysis, as well as smaller midge imitation (#20-24 Red Palomino midges, Zebra Midges, Jujubaetis) are all taking fish.  After 1:00 pm, take out some of the smaller midge dries such as Griffith’s Gnats, MA’s Adult Midge, and Brook’s Sprout Midge as well as your 7x tippet and try your hand at some of the selective fish feeding on the top.

Colorado River
The Upper Colorado River around Pumphouse is fishing suprisingly well for this time of the year.  The flows are holding steady at around 700cfs and the water temperature is at 40 degrees.  Look for fish in slow deep pools with large structure(beaver dams, submerged rocks), and adjust your weight and length until you find fish.  It seems like if you find one, you will find 20. Stoneflies are the name of the game, as almost all fish this weekend were taken on a #6 Pat’s Rubberleg, however, the typical Princes, Formerlies, and Black Copper John’s seemed to work just as well.

Colorado River Rainbow near Pumphouse - Vail Minturn Anglers

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

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Justin Nolan

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