The Pat Dorsey up-to-date river report is generated from many of the Blue Quill Angler's veteran guides who frequently visit many of these streams on a daily basis guiding their clients. We have guides on the South Platte, Blue, Colorado, William's Fork and North Fork several times a week. This incredible network allows you to share their successful tips, and techniques as well as keeping you informed on effective fly patterns.
My goal is to keep you apprised on several of your favorite trout streams as the conditions change on a weekly basis. I want to stack the odds in your favor--putting you in the right place, at the right time, with the right flies! Contact me - email@example.com with any questions or concerns.
The Pros' Picks
SUMMER HATCHES - SUGGESTED NYMPHS/STREAMERS/EGG PATTERNS
Midges: #20-22 Black Fly Larvae, #20-22 Mercury Midge, #22-24 Top Secret Midge, #20-24 Medallion Midges, #20-22 Mercury Blood Midge, #20-22 Mercury Flashback Black Beauty, #20-22 Tungsten Flashback Black Beauty, #20-22 Minute Midge, #20-22 Periwinkle, #20-22 Pearl Jam, #20-22 Brassie, #18-22 Buckskin, and #20-22 Chironoflash.
Blue Winged Olives: #20-22 Stalcup's Baetis, #20-22 Sparkle Wing RS 2, #20- 22 Mercury Flashback Pheasant Tail, #20-22 Jujubaetis, and #20-22 Chocolate Foam Wing Emergers
Caddis: #18 Buckskin, #18 Graphic Caddis, #18 Bead Head Breadcrust
Streamers: #8-10 Slump Busters, #6-10 Meat Whistle, #8-10 Goat Leech, #10 Pine Squirrel Leech, #6-10 Rabbit Fur Leeches, and #8-10 Crystal Buggers
#16-18 Hot Tail Flash Egg (McCheese and apricot) and #16 Nuclear Egg
SUMMER HATCHES - SUGGESTED DRIES
Midges: #24-26 Parachute Adams, #20-24 Griffith Gnat, #22 Matt's Midge, and #20 Cannon's Suspender Midge
Blue Winged Olives: #20 Parachute Adams, #20 Barr's Visa Dun, #20 Blue Dun, #20 Mathew's Sparkle Dun, #20 Cannon's Snowshoe Dun, and #20 Hi Vis Baetis
Caddis: #14-18 Elk Hair Caddis, and #14-16 Puterbaugh Caddis
Spinney Mountain Ranch:
The lush meandering, meadow portion of the South Platte between Spinney and Elevenmile Reservoirs is known as the “Dream Stream”. This beautiful 3-mile section of the Platte offers anglers the opportunity of a lifetime to catch large trout. This fabulous tailwater fishery is located in the heart of South Park, tucked between 14,000 foot snow capped peaks on the west, rich ranchland to the north and south, and Pikes Peak on the east. Spinney is a well-balanced fishery where anglers can catch trout on nymphs, dry flies and streamers.
The river is comprised of prime trout habitat, which includes, riffles, runs, gravel bars, shelves, and undercut banks. Fly-fishers can expect to catch a mixed bag of rainbows, browns, and cutthroats in 16-20 inch range. In addition spring (rainbows, and cutthroats) and fall (browns and kokanee salmon) spawning runs from Elevenmile Reservoir are quite impressive with fish up to 12 pounds landed during a key three-four week period. Ideal flow conditions for “Dream Stream” are between 100 CFS and 250 CFS. The regulations are flies and lures only and all fish must be returned to the water immediately.
Flow: 51 cfs
Clarity: Good to excellent
Water Temperature: Mid to upper 50's
Major Food Organisms: Midges, yellow sally nymphs, PMD nymphs, and caddis larva (pupa)
Hatches: Midges, caddis, yellow sallies, pale morning duns, and Tricos
14 Day Forecast: Look for hatches of midges caddis, pale morning duns, and Tricos. Some of these hatches are sporadic now, but they will intensify in the days to come. Fishing is good now, but will only improve with more water...
Tips and Other Information: Despite the low flows on the Dream Stream, fishing has been good as of late. Flows were dropped a few days ago due to the lack of downstream demand and a effort to fill Spinney Reservoir. Incoming flows are nearly 320 cubic feet per second, so the lake is filling, slowly but surely. The City of Aurora expects the lake to fill by the end of the month. Once the lake fills and there is downstream demand, look for flows to improve. My guess is that the City of Aurora will match incoming flows soon. Current hatches include: caddis, yellow sallies, pale morning duns and Tricos. Anglers are catching a mixed bag of rainbow, cut bow, brown trout, and the occasional snake river cutthroat. It is not a bad idea to carry some Deep Woods Off. The mosquitoes are starting to become a problem in some areas.
Note: Please pinch your barbs! The fish are showing some signs of stress and there are a lot of hook marks in their mouths. You can do your part by wetting your hands before handing the fish, keeping the fish in the water prior to any photographs and removing the hook, and not playing fish to exhaustion. If everyone works together, the prized procession we call the Dream Stream will remain intact.
Effective Patterns: #18 Micro San Juan Worms, #18-22 Mercury Pheasant Tails, #18-20 Buckskins, #20-22 Barr Emergers, #20-22 Jujubaetis, #20-22 Flashback Black Beauty, #20-22 Minute Midge, #20-22 Tube Midge, #20-22 Chironoflash, #20-22 Mercury Blood Midge, #20-22 Foam Wing Chocolate Emerger, #16 Barr's Graphic Caddis, #16 Elk Hair Caddis, #16 Puterbaugh Caddis,#20 Parachute Adams, and #20-22 Matt's Midge
The picturesque boulder-filled Cheesman Canyon portion of the South Platte River is considered by many one of the most pristine fisheries in the world. This area, often times simply referred to, as “the Canyon” is an experience you’ll never forget. It’s the perfect scenario, magnificent beauty in combination with great fly fishing.
The South Platte River carves its way through a granite canyon lined with ponderosa pines, willows, fallen tree trunks, and various other assorted ground foliages. Boulders as big as Volkswagens Beetles create structure for the super-selective trout residing in the river. Mule Deer, Black Bear, Raccoons, Mountain Lyons, and Bald Eagles all add to the experience. Anglers can expect to catch mostly large rainbows supplemented with a few nice brown trout. The aforementioned “canyon” is as technical as they get, and if you can catch trout here, you can catch them anywhere in the world. This three-mile section is primarily a nymphing fishery requiring tiny midge and mayfly imitations with fine 6 & 7X tippets. Ideal flows for Cheesman Canyon are between 250 CFS and 400 CFS. The regulations are flies and lures only. All fish must be returned to the water immediately.
Flow: 418 cfs
Water Temperature: Mid to upper 40's
Major Food Organisms: Midges, Baetis nymphs, scuds, caddis larva, and aquatic worms
Hatches: Midges, blue-winged olives, caddis, and yellow sallies
14 Day Forecast: Look for excellent midge hatches in the a.m. and p.m and sporadic blue-winged olive or caddis hatches mid day. We are in-between hatches until the PMD's come off in July.
Tips and Other Information: Cheesman Reservoir continues to spill. Flows are back on the rise with all the recent rainfall. Currently there is about 220 coming off the bottom and the remainder of the flow is coming over the spillway. Cheesman trout are keying on midges in the morning and evenings and feeding on Baetis nymphs, caddis larva, scuds, aquatic worms, etc. during the mid-day hours. Caddis pupa is an important part of fly selection (in the lower canyon) right now. Two of my favorites include: Mercer's Swing Nymphs and Barr's Graphic Caddis. Crowds have been extremely heavy as of late, even during the week days, so plan accordingly.
Effective Patterns: #16 UV orange Scud, #14 San Juan Worm, #16 Barr's Graphic Caddis, #16 Elk Hair Caddis, #16 Puterbaugh Caddis, #22-24 Chocolate Foam Wing Emerger, #20-22 Jujubaetis, #22 Stalcup's Baetis, #20-22 Mercury Midge, #20-22 Mercury Flashback RS II, #20-22 Sparkle Wing RS 2, #22 Sparkle Dun, Cannon's Snowshoe Dun, #20 Barr's Visa Dun (BW0).
The mileage below Cheesman Canyon is the renowned Deckers area, a world-class fishery with easy access and lots of opportunity. The best fishing is from Bridge Crossing to the lower boundary of the Tee Pee Club. Like Cheesman Canyon, the fish are challenging to catch, and there is no substitution for a good dead drift. Deckers can offer good dry fly fishing at times but like upstream in the “The Canyon” a good nympher will catch the majority of fish. Anglers can expect to catch assortment of browns and rainbows with some exceeding 20 inches. The river is made up of riffles, runs, shelves and gravel bars, and nice pocket water. The ideal flow for Deckers is between 150-400 cfs. The regulations are two trout over 16 inches in length and flies and lures only.
Flow: 457 cfs, Trumbull
Water Temperature: Mid to upper 50's
Major Food Organisms: Midges, Baetis nymphs, caddis, scuds, and aquatic worms
Hatches: Midges, caddis, yellow sallies, and sporadic blue-winged olives
14 Day Forecast: Look for excellent midge hatches in the a.m. and p.m and sporadic blue-winged olive or caddis hatches mid day. We are in-between hatches until the caddis and PMD's come off.
Tips and Other Information: Cheesman Reservoir continues to spill. Currently there is about 220 coming off the bottom and the remainder of the flow is coming over the spillway. The rest of the water is entering via feeder creeks. The fish are keying on midges in the morning and evenings then feeding sporadically on Baetis nymphs, caddis larva, caddis adults, scuds, aquatic worms, etc. The caddis hatches have been pretty impressive as of late. Caddis larvae and pupae are an important part of the Decker's fly selection as of late. Once the Deckers fish get on the pupa...its game on. Its one of the most impressive sights you'll see...the trout are just hammering the pupa. Two of my favorite pupae imitations are Mercer's Swing Nymph and Barr's Graphic Caddis. The river is clear from the Tee Pee Club to the confluence of the North Fork. Fishing on the lower river has been good as well. Spread out, enjoy what the whole river has to offer. The lower river provides a little solitude from the heavy angling pressure that the upper river receives. And believe me...the fishing is not shabby on the lower river!
Notes: The Deckers area is getting a lot of fishing pressure. Please make sure you pinch your barbs, avoid playing fish to exhaustion, wet your hands before handling fish, keep the fish in the water after you net them, etc. If everyone works together, this fishery will remain a world class trout stream. Also, there is a lot of trash in the area, please pick up any trash you see streamside. It's a continuous battle, I pick up trash every day!
Effective Patterns: #16 UV orange Scud, #14 San Juan Worm, #18 Buckskin, #16 Barr's Graphic Caddis, #16 Elk Hair Caddis, #16 Puterbaugh Caddis, #22-24 Chocolate Foam Wing Emerger, #20-22 Jujubaetis, #22 Stalcup's Baetis, #20-22 Mercury Midge, #20-22 Mercury Flashback RS II, #20-22 Sparkle Wing RS 2, #22 Sparkle Dun, Cannon's Snowshoe Dun, and #20 Barr's Visa Dun (BWO).
Eleven Mile Canyon:
The South Platte River below Elevenmile Reservoir is absolutely beautiful. The South Platte River tumbles and twists through a majestic canyon as it carves its way downstream to the small community of Lake George. Parts of the scenic canyon remind you of the fabled Cheesman stretch while others look much like the renowned Deckers area. Elevenmile Canyon is a great winter and early spring fishery with tremendous opportunity to consistently hook nice fish. The river is loaded with Rainbows and Cut-bows with the occasional brown trout.
The average fish ranges between 12 and 17 inches and are strong as an ox. Occasionally you will hook fish between 17 and 24 inches in the upper reaches below the dam. The river is comprised of riffles, runs, shelves, gravel bars, and nice pocket water. The scenery is fabulous with logjams, huge granite boulders, fallen trees, waterfalls, and bald eagles soaring above the canyon’s lip. The ideal flow for Elevenmile Canyon is between 150-250 cfs. The best fishing is in the upper two miles. The aforementioned two-mile stretch is flies and lures only. This section is catch and release and all fish must be returned to the water immediately. Pinch down your barbs and protect this incredible resource.
Flow: 119 cfs
Water Temperature: Upper 50's
Major Food Organisms: Midges, Baetis nymphs, and caddis larvae and pupae
Hatches: Midges, blue-winged olives, yellow sallies, and caddis
14 Day Forecast: Look for midges, blue-winged olive, yellow sally and caddis hatches. Flow should improve soon as Spinney Reservoir as soon as Spinney Reservoir fills up.
Tips and Other Information: Fishing has been good to excellent in Elevenmile Canyon. Productive flies include an assortment of tiny midge larvae and pupae during the morning and late afternoon/evening hours. Baetis nymphs have been productive between noon and 3 p.m., especially in the shallow riffles and transitional zones. Caddis larva and pupae imitations have been effective mid day.
Effective Patterns: #20-22 Sparkle Wing RS 2, #18-20 Mercury Pheasant Tail, #20 Rainbow Warriors, #20-24 Chocolate Foam Wing Emerger, #20-22 Jujubaetis, #20-22 Mercury Midge, #22-24 Mercury Flashback RS II, #16 Barr's Graphic Caddis, #16 Elk Hair Caddis, #16 Puterbaugh Caddis,#20 Parachute Adams, #20 Barr's Visa Dun, #20 Blue Dun, #20 Mathew's Sparkle Dun, #20 Cannon's Snowshoe Dun, and #20 Hi Vis Baetis
North Fork of the South Platte:
The North Fork of the South Platte River offers yet another opportunity to sample the South Platte River system. The vast majority of this swift, fast flowing stem of the South Platte River is within an hour’s reach of metropolitan Denver, nevertheless, this branch gets over-shadowed by the renowned South Fork. The headwaters of the North Fork, as it is referred to, commence on the eastern side of legendary Kenosha Pass. The North Fork is extremely small and expeditious for the first several miles until it joins forces with diverted water from the bottom of Dillon Reservoir via the Roberts Tunnel. Another tributary—Geneva Creek—further adds a substantial quantity of water to the North Fork near the small town of Grant. This creek is especially influential during run-off as the North Fork swells and becomes high and roily. Several other smaller side-streams also enter the river but are not the magnitude of the two previously mentioned sources of water.
The North Fork is comprised of shallow riffles, runs, and an abundance of pocket water. Deep holes are uncommon throughout this section of river. The water is gin clear, and standard sight nymphing tactics work best on a day-to-day basis. Short-line nymphing is the most effective technique with the heavy brush, small pockets, and quick seams—all of which are key holding areas for the trout. Typically if it looks “fishy”, it generally is, and of course it’s always lucrative to find fish positioned where you think they should be.
Current Conditions for Boxwood Gulch, Long Meadow and North Fork Ranch. These are the private leases we guide on. The same conditions are present on all the public water, however, access is limited.
Water Temperature: Low to mid 40's
Major Food Organisms: Midges and aquatic worms
Hatches: Midges and the occasional stonefly
14 Day Forecast: Look for run-off and all natural flows. Currently the water is off-colored, but clearing.
Tips and Other Information: Boxwood, Longmeadow and North Fork Ranch, and North Fork Meadows are all open. Fishing has been good on all of the private leases throughout the system. An assortment of bead heads, egg patterns, San Juan Worms, Chamois Leeches, and midges have been effective as of late. Fishing should improve by the day.
Effective Patterns: #18 pink San Juan Worms, #18 red San Juan Worms, brown San Juan Worms, #10 Chamois Leech, #18 Hot Tail Flash Eggs, #20-22 Bead Head Flashback Black Beauties, #20-22 Pearl Jams, and #20 Rainbow Warriors.
Williams Fork River:
The Williams Fork River is a top-notch fishery of its own. This beautiful fishery is nestled between the Williams Peaks and Middle Park and is truly a fly-fishing paradise. The two-mile stretch between the upper boundary of the Kemp Unit and the confluence of the Colorado River is a mixture or riffles, runs and pocket water with one of the best populations of brown trout in the “west”. A 30-minute hike to the river keeps the crowds to a minimum. Anglers can catch trout with a variety of methods including nymphs, streamers, and dry flies. The hatches include caddis, blue wing olives, midges, tricos, and red quills. Being a tributary of the Colorado River-spring and fall-spawning runs bring some “lunkers” into the stream. Ideal flows for the “Fork” are between 100-250 cfs. The regulations are flies and lures only and all fish must be returned to the water immediately.
Flow: 738 cfs
Water Temperature: High 30's low 40's
Major Food Organisms: Midges and Baetis nymphs
Hatches: Midges, blue-winged olives, and caddis
14 Day Forecast: Run off
Tips and Other Information: Fishing on the Williams Fork is fair at best with the high flows. I do not like fishing this stretch when it is above 500 cfs. It is still fishable...but it is a tough fish. I would choose another option at this point. We'll keep you posted as conditions improve. I am told by a reliable source that the lake should not spill this year which is good news. As of late the late is not full yet, but close. Look for Denver Water to match incoming flows in the weeks to come.
The Colorado River begins its journey in Rocky Mountain National Park and heads west offering anglers several opportunities to sample this great stream. Near the small community of Granby is the confluence of the Fraser River. At this point the river is a meandering, meadow stream flowing through lush ranchland and the river remains this way until it hit Byers Canyon. Byers Canyon is only about one mile long and this section is pretty tough to negotiate, especially during higher flows. Below Byers Canyon the river is “as good as it gets” with many access points including Paul Gilbert, Lone Buck, Kemp-Breeze, Sun Set Ranch, Powers, Reeder Creek and the Pump House to Radium stretch. The Colorado is lined with cottonwood trees and willows and is a dry fly paradise. Anglers can expect to catch a mixed bag of both browns and rainbows. The regulations in this area are flies and lures only and all fish must be returned to the water immediately.
Flows: 2359 cfs Parshall, 4130 Kremmling
Water Temperature: Low 40's
Major Food Organisms: Midges, Baetis nymphs, caddis larvae (pupae) and stonefly nymphs
Hatches: Midges, blue-winged olives, caddis and yellow sally stoneflies
14 Day Forecast: Spring run off
Tips and Other Information: The Colorado is experiencing spring run-off. The clarity will vary greatly depending on the location and weather patterns. Use traditional "dirty water rigs" (pink San Juan Worms, Chamois Leeches, Pat's Rubber Legs, Bead Heads, etc.) and fish along the edges. The fish will be stacked up in the soft water margins. Look for the Colorado to peak in the next few days, then the edges will clear, and fishing will begin to pick up. Caddis, PMD's, and yellow sallies are the current hatches.
Effective Patterns: #6-8 Pats Rubber Legs, #16 Trigger Nymph, #18 Barr Emerger, #6-8 Salmonfly, #10 Chamois Leech, #14 Pink San Juan Worm, #14-16 Bead Head Breadcrust, #14-18 Mercury Tungsten Caddis, #16 Barr's Graphic Caddis, #18 Hot Tail Flash Eggs, #10 Leeches, and #10 Crystal Buggers.
Many anglers I know have a love-hate relationship with the Blue River. Just about the time you think you have the river figured out, a humbling experience devastates your ego. The Blue River is a fantastic fishery and a favorite of mine. The Blue certainly is a beautiful as they come, and gives visiting anglers a real sense of “Colorado”. It’s a tough river at times, but a good challenge will always make you a better fly-fisherman. The water is extremely cold coming off the bottom of Lake Dillon. This cold water dictates and controls the feeding window of the trout. It’s not a great morning fishery, but as the water gradually warms up throughout the day, the fishing improves dramatically. The upper stretches of the Blue (from the base of the dam through Silverthorne) holds trophy trout, fattening up on Mysis Shrimp from the lake above. The water is gin clear requiring perfect presentations. Down stream the river changes back in a typical mountain trout stream with a diverse insect life. Several tributaries inter the river before it spills into Green Mountain Reservoir.
The river is lined with cottonwood trees and willows and is tucked to the east of the beautiful Gore Range. Because the water is so cold the river fishes best from mid-day to dark. Anglers can expect to catch mostly brown trout, a hand full of cut-bows as well as a few rainbows and the river can be excellent with dry fly patterns later in the afternoons and evenings. The hatches include blue wing olives, caddis, red quills, green drakes, pmd’s, and stoneflies. The regulations are catch and release in Silverthorne and on the lower reaches the limit is two trout over 16 inches in length and is artificial flies and lures only.
Flow: 1140 cfs Silverthorne
Clarity: Clear between the Dam and Straight Creek, then the clarity deteriorates from feeder creeks and spring run off
Water Temperature: High 30's to low 40's
Major Food Organisms: Midges, Mysis shrimp, caddis larva, pale morning dun nymphs, green drake nymphs, stoneflies and yellow sallies
Hatches: Midges, caddis, pale morning duns, green drakes, yellow sallies, and golden stoneflies
14 Day Forecast: Look for flows to improved in the next two week. Green Mountain is nearly full.
Tips and Other Information: The Blue River is cranking right now. If you opt to fish in the town of Silverthorne, use extreme caution and fish the edges. Do not even attempt to step into the river. Egg patterns, stonefly nymphs, San Juan Worms and Mysis Shrimp dropped with mayfly imitations is your best bet right now.
Effective Patterns: #18 Bead Head Pheasant Tail, #10 Pat's Rubber Legs, #14 San Juan Worms, #20-22 Black Beauty, #20-22 Minute Midge, #18 Laney's Mysis, #20-22 WD 40, #20-22 Periwinkle, #20-22 Pearl Jam, #20-22 Jujubee Midge, #20-22 Mercury Midge, #20 Top Secret Midge, #20-24 Medallion Midge, #20-22 Mercury Flashback RS II, #18-22 Mercury Flashback Pheasant Tail, and #20-22 Brassie