Is it possible that the weather has turned from the maddening spring snows and the Arizona dust storms? The warm and wonderful weather we have experienced this week has been a welcome change but also means that the clock is now ticking before spring runoff really hits, making fishing in the region’s rivers a tough experience.
Already, some of the rivers in the San Juans have started to turn cloudy, but that doesn’t mean they won’t fish or that the fish aren’t hungry – they certainly are. The key now for anglers choosing to fly fish is to select flies that are highly visible like 20-inchers, bitch creeks and large prince nymphs – pick something that will cast a shadow.
During this murky, pre-runoff season, I like to put those large flies up top on my leader as an attractor fly. It’s never too early to put a large stone fly on the line and if that doesn’t work, put on a big red or purple San Juan worm as an attractor. Below that, you can go smaller with another beaded prince nymph, an egg pattern or everybody’s favorite, the red copper John.
If the temperatures continue to stay warm and the San Miguel, Dolores and even the Gunnison Gorge get blown out, head on down to the banks of the Uncompahgre at Pa-co-chu-puk below Ridgway Reservoir as its waters won’t get dirtied until later in the season once the reservoir fills up.
Speaking of the Ridgway Reservoir, it has been stocked by the Department of Wildlife in the past couple of weeks and Jerry from the Ridgway Conoco said the fishing there is good and only going to get better.
“Every spring the guys come in and troll for the big browns,” Jerry said on Tuesday. “I haven’t heard any reports of that yet. Those browns are starting to move into shallower water.”
While any colored spinner will work at the Ridgway Reservoir, Jerry recommends using dark colors (gold, copper) for better success. Fire Tiger Kastmaster and FT Rapalas have been a popular pick recently. (If you plan to catch-and-release or are in a catch-and-release area and are using spinners, be kind and bend two of the three treble hooks for an easier, less damaging release.)
And for all the meatheads out there, Power Bait and night crawlers are working well at the reservoir as well with a lot of carryover fish hanging near “Cheater’s Gate.”
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