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Trouts Journal

Who’s Fishing This Weekend? President’s Day Edition

Ivan Orsic / Feb 16, 2018

President’s Day weekend is on the horizon, and it’s beginning to smell like spring is literally around the corner. Well, maybe not, but with weather forecasts showing temperatures into the lower 50’s this weekend, we’re getting a sneak peak of one of the favorite seasons around the shop, The Fifth Season. While not technically a “season”, The Fifth Season is the time that exists from Late Winter/Early Spring until our annual spring runoff. While the weather can be a bit mercurial during this time of year, the generally higher air temperatures will start to melt the valley snow and wake up our favorite rivers in advance of runoff. With that in mind, I’ve done some research, looked at flows, forecasts, and the ole magic 8 ball and come up with some recommendations for what should fish well this President’s Day weekend.

South Platte River - 11 Mile Canyon - I might be a bit biased as I fished this stretch of water last weekend. But, it is hard to find a more productive and more enjoyable stretch of water to fish in late winter/early spring than 11 Mile Canyon. The lower stretches still had their fair share of shelf ice, but any stretch of river that sees sun early in the day will generally hold fish...and quite a few at that. Expect super productive sight nymphing with eggs, baetis/bwo, and midges throughout the weekend. Come for the super productive sight nymphing and stay for some of the best late-winter dry fly fishing in the state. Griffith’s Gnats, small Parachute Adams, and small midge dries will do the trick. Find a run filled with risers and your afternoon is spoken for.

Arkansas River at Pueblo - The Arkansas at Pueblo is in the same class of late-winter dry fly fishing as 11-Mile. Want to stay out of the more temperamental weather of the high country, find your way down to the Steel City. The forecast in Pueblo for this weekend looks like this…Saturday - Sunny and 59F, Sunday - Sunny and 66F, and Monday - Sunny/Windy and 58F. With that forecast, I’d be surprised if you didn’t encounter several pods of fish rising to midges throughout the weekend. If for some crazy reason, you didn’t, I’d lay good money that you’d find actively feeding fish in some of the longer, slower runs. As the water temps rise throughout the day, I’d consider throwing a streamer and seeing if you can’t move one of those big browns that call that stretch of river home.

Blue River at Silverthorne - The Blue is the quintessential late winter/early spring tailwater trout fishery in Colorado. Water temps won’t get high enough below the dam to see any significant dry fly hatches, however, some sizable rainbows have been caught in this stretch recently. The Blue fishes well with red midge nymphs (like the pure midge), black midge nymphs, eggs, worms, mysis, and small pheasant tail nymphs. 4x - 6x fluorocarbon is a must this time of year, but these fish are starting to color up as spring approaches and that color stands out in the water column, making them a bit easier to sight fish to this time of year.

The Lower Eagle River (from Eagle down) - Ice-free conditions and rumours of blue-winged olive hatches down low are enough for the Eagle to make the list for this long weekend. The weather forecast for this area of the state is little cooler and little more wintery than the previous three choices, but it’s well worth a look this weekend, even when the wintery mix is forecasted to hit on Monday. If you’re looking for potential dry fly action, Saturday is your best bet as it’s forecasted to be Sunny and in the upper 40s. However, swinging streamers through the slower, deeper runs that can be found throughout the lower river could result in a sizable brown or rainbow whether you do so on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. Otherwise, nymphing midges, eggs, worms, blue-winged olives, and other natural attractors (like small stoneflies, caddis, and mayflies) will prove to be productive throughout the weekend, as the lower river is ice-free.

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