Onset of the Hopper Hoards – August/September Fly Fishing Report

23 August 2016
Comments: 0
23 August 2016, Comments: 0

Onset of the Hopper Hoards – August/September Fly Fishing Report

Duranglers Hopper Andy McKinely Durango Fishing

The onset of hopper hoards have marked the coming of our late summer fishing season.  If you are one who likes violent, splashy dry fly eats and feisty fish; then this just might be when you want to get on the water.  We are in the home stretch of summer; far sooner than we would like to admit, fall will be upon us.  With fall comes the end of wet wading, big dries, and long days.  Around the shop there is even a buzz of fall hunting; whispers of bucks, bulls, and pintails.

This time of year also marks the return of some of our favorite bugs to be found on the water: Blue Winged Olives.  With cooler evenings and afternoons of monsoonal rains, BWOs begin to show up on many of our local waterways.  These bugs can range from blue/grey to an almost black color, and it is always a good idea to have a few matching dries and emergers in your box at the onset of fall.

Our late summer, early fall season can be an incredible time to be out on the water.  Make sure you stop by the shop or give us a call at 1-888-347-4346 for the scoop on all our local fisheries.

You can also check out our frequently updated river reports page for the most up to date information.

River Reports:

Charlie San Juan 2

Rio Grande – The height of summer hatches is in the past, but August and September can be an incredible time to fish the Rio Grande.  It is so good in fact, that we are currently running a short late summer/early fall float season on the Rio Grande!  Make sure to give us a call or shoot us an e-mail at info@duranglers.com for more information on this float.  This time of year, the Rio Grande can have excellent hopper fishing from a boat or by wade.  We like to float this time of year for two main reasons: streamers and BWOs.  Are you a big fly, big rod junkie?  Then this float is for you.  Are you a small dry fly, delicate presentation junkie?  Then this float can also be for you too.  Depending on flows and conditions, fishing can rival what we see every June and July…

San Juan River Quality Waters – With flows currently hanging around 600 to 700, mixed with overcast days; this August you can expect BWOs to show up in the afternoons from Texas Hole downstream to town.  Warm late summer days also bring out the terrestrials, and a good assortment of hoppers, ants, beetles, and crickets is a really good thing to have on hand.  While most of the San Juan crowd will stick to a double nymph rig of annelids and midge pupa (not a bad idea), fishing with a hopper can be a fantastic way to hook some good fish.  While your fish count won’t be as high; watching a San Juan fish slurp a large dry fly is something you shouldn’t miss if you have the chance.

Animas – The Gold King Mine Spill: one year later…and fishing is better than it has been in recent memory.  Not joking.  Fish are fat, fired up, and eating hard.  Mornings and evenings have been the best producers with nymph rigs and BWOs have also started to show in overcast afternoons.  Midday, tie on a hopper/dropper rig as we are seeing tons of hoppers on the banks of the Animas these days.  Streamer season is right around the corner and you would be remiss if you didn’t at least consider trying out a mouse at dusk.

Piedra – Late summer on the Piedra can be hit or miss.  With afternoon monsoon rains, the Piedra can quickly discolor and fishing becomes difficult.  Should you find yourself fishing off color water, tie on a double stonefly nymph (Pat’s Rubberlegs, Bitch Creek Nymph, Prince Nymph), and dredge likely looking spots.  You will pick up a few fish.  However, should you find yourself on the Piedra with clear water, tie on a hopper/dropper rig and go to town.  Fish will be hanging in the faster, heavier water and looking up for tasty meals.  Make sure you have a few moth, caddis, and terrestrial patterns on hand.  When the sun is high in the sky midday, you may have to resort back to a double nymph rig to find some fish.

Upper San Juan – High up, the upper Upper San Juan will have technical and difficult fishing right now.  Low water coupled with sunny days makes for small flies and light tippet.  Trout can be spooky so keep a low profile when approaching the water.  Further on down towards Pagosa Springs, the San Juan will fish similar to the Piedra.  Make sure to have some Hoppers, Caddis, and BWOs on hand; but expect the nymph game to be strong throughout the day with common Colorado nymphs such as Pat’s, Copper John, Pheasant Tails, and Prince Nymphs.

Dolores – The lower Dolores has hit the late summer flows and will hang around 60 cfs.  These flows can produce spooky and picky fish throughout the day and 6x may become necessary.  Hatches of midges, BWOs, and a few PMDs will be around, so be prepared with nymphs, emergers, and dries in a variety of sizes.  Sick of the small shit?  Tie on a hopper (with a dropper if you like) and prospect.  Hoppers are en-masse on the lower D, and you should be prepared for a day of terrestrial fishing.

The upper Dolores is in the lower flow, late summer phase but can rise and discolor with rains.  Dry/dropper rigs are standard, and make sure you have a good assortment of your favorite bead heads should they become necessary.  However, small hoppers and terrestrials are just as good as anything.

Los Pinos – Below Vallecito: Prince nymphs and hoppers.  Above Vallecito: Prince nymphs and hoppers.  Sure, you could overcomplicate things with hatches of BWOs, Caddis, or Midges…but why bother?  Fishing has been really good below and above, just K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) and fish the fast heavy water for the big boys.  Make sure you have enough weight for those deep holes.

Creeks and the High Country – Our full on, dry fly, hike and wade, beautiful views creek season is still going strong.  Grab a map, some good hiking shoes, and hit the backcountry.  Standards such as Hermosa, Cascade, Lime, and the Upper Animas are fishing great…but they are the standards.  There is more water in the Durango area than you could fish in a lifetime, so grab a map and make sure you check out our guide to fly fishing the high country for some tips on finding the honey hole.  Make sure you have a good set of rain gear and an extra layer, just in case.

Local Lakes – With the onset of cooler evenings, our local lakes have dropped temps and pike fishing is lighting back up.  Trout are also making a good showing with cooler temps, but you should not overlook the smallie fishing midday.

Andy McKinley
Andy manages Duranglers Flies and Supplies online store and web content. When he is not plugging away in the basement of Duranglers, he can be found in the shop talking weird flies, throwing spey casts for few fish, eating pizza, drinking coffee, painting, and raising a family in Southwest Colorado.

His fly fishing writings have been published on blogs such as the Daily Drake and Simms Wading Room.

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