Weekend Report: Roaring Fork Valley

Over the past week, much of our casual chatter around the shop has been about impending meteorological doom and many of our customers have been stocking up on tying materials expecting to be isolated for the next few days while the snow piles up. For me, I saw the perfect opportunity to play around with some new gear and chase down some good winter fishing. I decided to visit some friends in Basalt for the weekend, after all I love fishing the Pan and Roaring Fork this time of year.

Saturday started on the upper Pan. As anglers packed into all the available runs and pools, it became apparent it was going to be a crowded day on the water. Not to mention the exposure to blowing snow in the flats made things challenging. After hooking up a few times but only landing one nice bow, we decided not to stick around for long as cars continued to circle the dirt road around the Bend Pool, looking for open water. Only a couple miles downstream we not only found solitude, but a strong midge hatch that had plenty of large fish elevated in the water column and frequenting the surface. A down stream cast with a shallow dry dropper rig on 7x was the ticket. This 22 inch piggy and several others took the dropper on a deep shelf.

It feels good to be in the right place at the right time with the right gear.

The weather was tough, but ultimately it was thoughts of happy hour that ended our excellent day on the Pan.

BTW, I strongly recommend El Korita for food and drinks to anyone visiting this area.

I fished solo day two, as my comrade decided to ski Snowmass instead. I decided to return to some of my favorite runs and pools on the Roaring Fork just outside of Basalt. This river is truly incredible, and in many cases a complete polar opposite to the Pan.

Size 10 stonefly on 4x and a size 20 midge on 5x brought many fish to hand. Fishing was excellent and consistent all day, and this river is home to some very hot fish that won’t just flex a rod but will buzz your drag and make you earn it.

Around 2pm I noticed a large back-eddie that was boiling with rising fish. My size 18 Adams served only as an indicator in the foam, and was trailed by a size 22 cdc midge dry on 6x. I was hooking up on what seemed like every other cast. For a guy that loves to fish in the winter, this is payday. Anticipating that slow and confident sip on your dry fly is exciting, but a quick hook set would often leave me empty handed. Exercising some patience with either a super slow lift of the rod or in many cases just waiting for the dorsal fin to break the surface after the eat was key.

There’s something to be said about landing a couple dozen flawless fish and not seeing another angler all day.

For anyone fishing this area over the next few weeks I understand that fishing the Pan is a must if you’re in this area, but the many-many times I’ve fished the Fork over many winters, this is by far the most consistent winter river in the state. Give credit where it’s due, have fun out there!

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