Aspen Outfitting Company’s Upper Roaring Fork River Report 7/21/23

Cian McGillicuddyFly Fishing1 Comment

Flows and Water Clarity

Flows are at 496 cfs below Maroon Creek and 937 cfs at Emma. Water temps range from 47-56 degrees near Maroon Creek and 50-59 degrees near Emma. Visibility is excellent.


Flows are slowly and surely coming down, and the river is looking like its summer self. Both dry fly and nymph fishing have been great! Water levels have been dropping about 50-60 cfs between morning and afternoon at Maroon Creek, and water temperatures have been fluctuating from the mid/high 40’s early in the morning up to the mid/high 50’s in the afternoon (water temps are slightly higher at emma). However, changes in water temperature and level throughout the day means that our approach to the river has been slightly different between morning and evening.

Dry fly fishing larger patterns that imitate Stoneflies and Grasshoppers and larger Caddis has been the way to go earlier in the day, and we’re getting great Caddis, PMD and Green Drake hatches in the late afternoon and into dark.

Nymphing Caddis and PMD patterns has been working from sunrise to sunset, and is our most productive means of catching fish during the warmest hours of the day. We’re still seeing midges hatch in good numbers early in the morning, and Caddis and PMD emergers have been our top patterns in the afternoon. We’re mostly fishing smaller bugs, but Stonefly and Green Drake nymphs have been especially effective in fast water.

This wide variety of insect life has made the fishing great, and also gives us the opportunity to catch fish on nymphs and dry flies! If you’re not fishing, you should be!

If you want more in depth information on the best ways to fish this week, give us a call or drop by the shop to get the most recent conditions and information. 

Common Hatches and Food Sources 

Caddis, Stoneflies, PMD’s and Green Drakes

Nymphs and Dries that imitate Caddis, Stoneflies, Pale Morning Duns and Green Drakes are great patterns to fish this time of year.

Caddis nymphs are a staple right now. Frenchies, Dirty Birds, Plan B caddis, Boy Buzzers and Harpers have all been producing throughout the day. Try fishing a jig style caddis (Boy Buzzer, Frenchie, Hot Mess Jig etc.) as your lead fly to imitate the abundant caddis larvae. We’re also finding success trailing caddis emerger style flies, particularly during a strong hatch. Soft hackles and caddis pupae have been effective, particularly in the flats.

PMD nymphs have become an essential up here in the last week or so. PMD Perdigons, Jig PMDs, PMD RS2s, and Soft Hackle Pheasant Tails have all been working great despite the fact that caddis are still a more dominant hatch.

Golden Stonefly and Green Drake nymphs are also a great point fly to lead with right now, particularly when fishing faster water. Pat’s Rubber Legs, 20-inchers and large pheasant tails can be really effective, so don’t count out throwing some bigger flies.

Finally, get yourself some dry fly action! We’ve seen a few fish starting to rise during the mid morning, but the bulk of surface activity is happening in the evening. If you want to fish dries in the morning and mid day, try out some bigger dries and see if you can get some opportunistic fish to come up. Cover water with Stimulators, Golden Stones and Hoppers to see if you can drum up some interest (plus, you can always drop a nymph off the back). When dry fly fishing the evening, switch over to Caddis Patterns in the 14-16 range or a PMD dry, depending on where you are on the river. Green Drakes are also starting to hatch, so be on the lookout for those– if you know, you know!

Hot flies & Techniques


Point Flies

Hot Flies: Guide’s Choice Hare’s ear (size 14-18), Dirty Bird Caddis (size 14-16), Hot Mess Jig (size 16), 20 incher (size 8-14, natural), Pat’s Rubber Legs/Girdle Bug (size black, coffee, brown 6-14), Prince Nymph (size 8-16), PMD Perdigon (14-16), Jig PMD (16-18)

Trailing flies

Harper Soft Hackle (size 16), Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail (Size 14-18), Mayhem Midge (black, gray, olive, size 18-20, PMD size 16-18).


Hot Flies: Missing Link Caddis (14-16), Elk Hair Caddis (Tan, Olive 14-16) Stimulator (classic or rubberlegs, Royal, Yellow size 8-14) PMD Split Wing (14-16), H&L Variant (12-16).


Bring a streamer rod with you this time of year! It never hurts to target some structure and see what happens! It’s been a little streaky, but we love fishing streamers whenever we can!

Hot Flies: Sex Dungeons (White, Grizzly, Yellow, Black, Size 2) Mini Dungeons (white, natural, size 8), Thin Mint (size 8-10), Trick Or Treat (size 6).


Nymphing is still a productive technique during this time of year, but now is also the time to fish dry fly and dry dropper set ups.

When nymphing, look for transitions in flow and depth– that’s where the trout are most likely to be! Make sure that you adjust the weight and depth of your rig to match the water you are fishing. Sometimes reaching a different part of the water column is all it takes.

Summer is the best time to throw some dry flies! If you see fish rising, focus on getting a good drift and experiment with different patterns and colors until you get fish to eat. If you’re not seeing fish rise but bugs are hatching, cover a lot of water with a pattern that matches the hatch until you find some willing fish. Finally, using large dries like stimulators, hoppers and beetles in a dry-dropper rig is a fun way to mix it up and see what fish are responding to best.

Streamers are a fun tool to have in your toolbox during the summer! Small streamers with a slower retrieve tend to be best when the water is clear. Streamer fishing often takes the back seat when dry fly fishing comes into play, but it’s still a ton of fun. Focus your efforts on pools and structure and cover a lot of water for the best results. 

Information About The Roaring Fork

The Roaring Fork River is a freestone river that runs 70 miles from Independence Pass through Aspen, Basalt, and Carbondale until it reaches its confluence with the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs. The cold, clean waters of this famous river support an incredible array of aquatic life including brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout. The Roaring Fork is designated as a “Gold Medal” fishery, meaning it offers some of the best trout fishing in the nation to beginners and seasoned anglers alike.

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