Report on the Upper Roaring Fork

Earlier this week I arrived in Basalt for four days of fishing.  I found the water levels on the upper Fork to be far less than half of of the norm (flows should be over 125 cfs in the early part of July).  The fishing was pretty good on drys -CDC Comparaduns, Baetis, Ants, Elk Hair Caddis, Red Quills and Royal Wulffs.  The key was spotting fish and getting a good drift.  If I got a refusal or if the fly was ignored I would change immediately to something different or smaller.

Nymphing the fast an deeper runs with heavily weighted Stoneflies flies like theCat Poop Stones and 20 Incher in larger sizes complemented with smaller nymphs like red Copper Johns and Prince Nymphs. were producing.

The fishing was fun but tough and I knocked off around noon due to the heat.  I ran into a lot of fishermen who were not having a solid day – two or three fish.

Here is part of an article that appeared in today’s Aspen Times…..

“The severe drought gripping most of Colorado continues to drop water levels in local rivers and raise water temperatures, potentially endangering the health of fish and returning the Roaring Fork to a trickle in Aspen, as happened in 2002.

  The river on Thursday was running through town at 23 cubic feet per second (cfs), below the state’s recommended instream flow of 32 cfs, and well off the 115 cfs average, according to a Roaring Fork Conservancy report.

  Besides the drought, the level is so low because holders of some rights are allowed to take water and drop the river below the recommended instream level, which was implemented in the 1970s by the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

“The Roaring Fork near Aspen on Thursday hit 68 degrees, the state standard for a healthy ecosystem, O’Keefe said. Anything above that affects dissolved oxygen in the stream to the point that fish get stressed; insects are also affected. If the temperature rises to 72 degrees, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Division can shut down stretches of rivers to fishing.

The Roaring Fork Conservancy has been discussing the issue with the valley’s fly-fishing shops, O’Keefe said. Many of the businesses, aware of the temperatures, are limiting trips for guests to mornings and wrapping up the excursions by early afternoon.”

Read the entire article

If what I saw is indicative of things to come, August is going to be a back breaker!

Heavy rains in the Vail Valley have completely blown-out the Colorado River.

Erik Myhre
Erik Myhre

3 thoughts on “Report on the Upper Roaring Fork

  1. RIverSnob says:

    Never had a chance to fish up that way yet but this “drought” is affecting fishing pretty much everywhere. Great report, great pics!!

    In the Midwest our creeks and rivers are all but dried up and the weather is still hitting mid 90s each day.
    Hang in there!

  2. Wallace Westfeldt says:

    Been fishing the Fork for a week. Yep water temps and sun are a problem. If you avoid both, the fishing is currently great. My fly of choice has been a #12 or #14 Parachute Adams. The Green Drakes are less in number than last year, but prevalent in the am. Start early finish early. Girdle Bugs and Tung Swing Caddis pick up great fish in riffles in the shade of bridges. Getting cooler for the moment and some sign of monsoons. Lower Fork is dangerously hot and should be closed. Saw many dead fish there. I’ll reveal my favorite spots after Sunday (when I leave ;-).

  3. Anonymous says:

    Fished the RFV for three days late last week, and all the above reports are correct in terms of the need to avoid the heat of the day on the Fork. But while you’re up there why not head up to the Pan and fish PMD and BWO dries from 11AM until 3PM after you get off the Fork. Reliable hatches daily and not as crowded as usual along the Middle River. Get off the Pan by 4PM, regroup with some food and beverage of your choice, and head up to the Upper Fork for the nightime Happy Hour. Caddis hatch is strong and the Drakes are showing up after 8:30PM…don’t leave too early and bring that headlamp…when the water starts to boil after dark you’ll need it!

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