Flows and Water Clarity
The Roaring Fork is running low and clear – with brief periods of cloudy water in the afternoon on warmer days. Flows are 32 cfs below Maroon Creek, and 227 cfs at Emma. Water temperature is 34 degrees Fahrenheit.
The second week of February has given us warmer days and the fishing remains very productive, particularly during midday and the afternoon. As we mentioned last week, safety is the number one priority on the river. With significant temperature changes from night to day, ice shelves are prone to breaking. Keep an eye up-river for ice flows and if you see the water levels starting to rise, move away from the water. With cold temperatures and low flows in the Upper Fork, the fish are stacked up in slower, deeper water. Focus on deep holes and eddies near natural structure for great results.
Common Hatches and Food Sources
Midges, Baetis, and Stoneflies.
Midge Larvae and Baetis nymphs are the main sources of food present in the upper fork. But, we’re seeing some stoneflies lingering on rocks and twigs. During this time of the year, trout occasionally feed on eggs, but it can be hit or miss. On warmer days, we’re seeing some fish rise intermittently to eat hatching midges.
Hot flies & Techniques
Midges and Baetis
Zebra Midge (black, gray, size 18-22), WD40 (black, gray, size 18-22), Miracle Midge (gray, brown, size 18-22) RS2’s (cdc, crystal wing, black, gray, size 18-22), Juju Baetis (red, olive, black size 18-22), crystal midge (gray, olive, size 20-22.)
Pat’s Stone Runt (black, size 12-14), Two bit Hooker (black, size 14-16), Tungsten jigs with hot collars (yellow, brown, pink, size 14-18), Bead Head Rainbow Warrior (classic, purple, red, size 16-20), Eggs (chartreuse, peach, white).
Griffith’s gnat (classic or hi-vis, 18-22), Element Hi-Vis Midge (black, size 20) Parachute Adams (18-20), BWO Hackle Stacker (18-20)
Motor Oil (black, size 6), Slumpbuster (natural, size 8-12), Thin Mint (size 6-10).
Nymphing is the most productive technique during this time of year. Finding deep holding water and using weight to get your flies down will be crucial to success. Longer leaders and heavy split shot will help you get your flies in front of more fish. Leading with larger jig style or tungsten patterns has been a very productive technique for helping smaller flies get down deeper.
With the cold temperatures, your floating line and line guides are at risk of freezing over so treating your guides and line with ice off paste can help extend your time on the water. With low water temps there are less insects hatching, so the fish are hungry. Small midges and baetis are the staples when fishing this time of year, but don’t be afraid to try something out of the ordinary. Small stoneflies are working surprisingly well right now! If you’re not finding success, get creative and you might stumble into an unexpectedly productive fly pattern.
With warmer days forecasted ahead, keep an eye out for pods of rising fish. Winter dry fly hatches can be few and far between, but are incredibly fun and rewarding to fish. Midges are the predominant hatch right now, so switching to small dry flies and fine tippet is your best chance at fooling fish. Small streamers are also an option this time of year, but be sure to focus your efforts on deep pools and structure.
Wintertime Fish Feeding Habits
As we mentioned last week, trout metabolism is a factor for winter anglers. Trout are cold blooded, so their metabolism is regulated in large part by water temperature. Pay close attention during the warmest part of the day this time of year, as a water temperature increase of even a couple of degrees can have big consequences! Look for fish moving into shallower water, becoming more adventurous/opportunistic with their menu choices, and feeding more aggressively overall.
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.