May 16, 2013
San Miguel: (550-600 cfs below Placerville) The San Miguel has begun to pulse in the early throwes of spring runoff. Water clarity goes with weather. Consecutive warm days result in rising, muddy water. Cool nights and cloud cover give us windows of the clear. The San Miguel has not fished particularly well this spring, so locals welcome the promise of high water: a reshuffled deck. Over the next 4-5 weeks, the Uncompahgre and Gunnison will offer the strongest fishing in our region. By mid-June, the Dolores should be dropping and clearing. Check back around June 20th for the first good fishing of summer on the San Miguel.
Uncompahgre: (83 cfs below Ridgway Reservoir) The Uncompahgre is fishing terrific, particularly at Pa-Co-Chu-Puk State Park. Clear water and excellent mid-day midge hatches provide multi-technique opportunities for highly responsive trout. When midges or BWO mayflies are on the water, fish technical dry flies on 6X tippet: Harrop's BWO duns and cripples, Lawson's No Hackle (BWO), Stalcup's Hatching BWO, the ubiquitous Griffith's Gnat, the Stalcup Hatching Midge and other persuasive imitations. The Mayhem is the best dropper nymph in your box, but plenty of other patterns will catch fish consistently. Any reasonable midge will catch rising fish, but size is important. Choose a pattern in the #22-24 range. When you tire of casting to working fish, pull a streamer and cover some ground. Pa-co is kicking out a lot of big fish.
Gunnison: (300 cfs in Black Canyon) 2013 will be a tale of two Gunnisons: the one that fishes lights-out in May and June, and its evil twin that fishes froggy and tough in July and August. In years without a spring high water release, the Gunnison may be the best river in Colorado, if not all of the Southern Rockies. The heart of the action is in the Black Canyon, from the road access at East Portal to the North Fork Confluence below the canyon proper. Blue winged olive hatches proliferate throughout the gorge. Every trout works on the BWOs, but only the modest sized browns seem willing to rise. Of course, a "modest sized" Gunnison brown might be 16", but in Gunnison terms, the really big fish remain subsurface, sniffing for nymphs and emergers. Recommended dry flies include a small Parachute Adams or technical BWOs such as the Para Extended Body BWO and Harrop's CDC patterns. Best nymphs include the Mayhem, JuJu Baetis, WD-40 and a host of midge pupas and emergers.
Caddis are beginning to emerge throughout the gorge and the fish seem to prefer them over the smaller insects. Dry fly action is still spotty on caddis, but a size 14-16 LaFontaine's Emerger is a terrific dropper fly, whether fished behind a big stonefly nymph or under a dry fly. Grasshoppers are already found in signficant numbers in the Black Canyon, so a hopper pattern or other large attractor, like a Chernobyl or a Bugmeister, is a great choice for your indicator point fly. The Salmonfly stonefly hatch will certainly begin early this year, perhaps in the last week of May. Already, the Pat's Rubber Legs and other size 6-10 stonefly nymphs are accounting for their share of heavy fish throughout the gorge. Nymphing anglers should keep a big fly in the water all the time...
Dolores River: (933 at Dolores) Runoff is hot and heavy throughout the Dolores watershed. Please check back in early June for reports on Dolores tributary creeks and other clear water sections of the river. Runoff will be very short this year, so stay tuned!