May Fly Fishing Report
May is upon us and as we roll into the hot fishing season we start with…10 inches of new snow in the high country! Thankfully these inches of freshie pow pow will assist in fueling our local float season. Temps are rising daily, as is the CFS on our local rivers. The next few days are going to see an increase in temps up to 80 degrees, so expect any non-tailwater to be high and muddy for a while. This includes the Animas, Piedra, Upper San Juan, Upper Dolores, and San Miguel Rivers. Expect the bulk of runnoff to last 2 to 3 weeks with peak flows arriving sometime this month.
Runoff tends to discourage many anglers from fishing the rivers and drives them to look for other fishing or recreation options. Don’ be easily dissuaded! Sometimes high, off colored water causes fish the loose a lot of wariness and they will readily eat large nymph or streamer. Trout also move to the shallower edge of river in runoff as the swifter currents in the center of the river tend to push them out of the deeper holds. Some of the biggest trout can be easily accessed during runoff. This is also the best time of year to float and fish. With the high water, a boat may be the best option to access the most fish. Towards the end of May, the high country may be open to an adventuring angler as well. Just note that the rivers and creeks up high may be pretty cold so the trout are still a little sluggish.
If your river of choice looks to be murky and off color; keep in mind the San Juan, Williams, Los Pinos, Florida, Dolores, and Uncompahgre are all tailwaters. These rivers below their respective dams may not be affected by any discoloration. Again, make sure to check the flows or call into the shop for an update. Spring water releases will happen below the dams; although the river becomes, high but not unfishable. If that isn’t in the cards for you; a serious consideration you should make is hitting a local lake or reservoir. This is absolute prime time for pike! Once the water gets too warm (about (65 or so degrees), pike seek deeper waters…but until then local heavy hitters will be ready and willing to crush an 8 inch pike streamer. Bass fishing will also be picking up and of course remember that BIG trout live in lakes and are most likely to eat mornings and evenings.
Call into the shop for a daily report and suggestion on where is fishing best.
Insects and Natural Food Sources
May begins to start the summer season and with summer comes the hatches! Stoneflies and Caddis will get the ball rolling on the Animas, Piedra, Los Pinos, and Gunnison. A big dark stonefly nymph fished along the river edge during high water will produce some solid strikes. Also, be o the lookout for BWOs and PMDs. If you are hitting the San Juan, the standard Juan bugs will be in order: midges, baetis, annelids, aquatic worms, eggs, and leeches. However, there will be some exceptions. If the flows get bumped up, lots of things will be pushed out of the dam; namely scuds, worms, and leeches. Also, a yearly phenomenon happens on the San Juan with our first rains of summer known as the ant fall. Towards the end of May/beginning of June, thousands of large ants will get washed out of the cliffs above San Juan into the river…and the fish go nuts. This only happens for a few days so watch the weather for the first rains. A size 14 ant or black simulator pattern will be the key.
Don’t be unprepared and always pack streamers this time of year: dark and big for the high off color water. Also, don’t forget that pike fishing will be getting better and better with every warm day. When the water is murky and off color or it is a cloudy day, dark black or olive will be the color choice. HOWEVER, if the sun is out (and even if the water is looking off color); fish brighter flashier colors. Red, yellow, orange, white, and grey all have been producing. Again, make sure to have lots of flash.
Also: if you are headed to the Dolores River; hoppers will be in full effect towards the end of May with PMDs showing up around the same time.
Recommended Fly Patterns
Animas and other SW CO rivers:
- Stones: Dark stonefly nymphs sz. 10-14 such as a 20 Incher Stone, Prince Nymph, Black Wolly Bugger, Pats Rubberlegs. Salmonfly imitations such as Chubby Chernobyl, Rogue Foam Stone, Sofa Pillow, and Stimulators size 2-12.
- Caddis: Green or black caddis larva and cased caddis nymphs, Sparkle pupa and Sparkle emerger sz. 12-18. Elk Hair Caddis, Olive X-Caddis, Parachute Caddis, Peacock Caddis all size 12-18.
- Streamers: anything that is big, meaty, and has lots of action in the water and this time of year darker is better. Animas River Special, Sculpzilla, Black or Olive Buggers, Circus Peanut, Cheech Leech, Sex Dungeon.
- Blue Winged Olives: BWO hatches may still occur so make sure to have some BWO nymphs and dries as well: pheasant tail, WD-40, Barrs Emerger, Foam wing RS2 in sizes 18-22.
- If you are headed to the Dolores, make sure to pack some hoppers in size 8-12 such as Grillo’s Pool Toy, Turk’s Tarantula, and Dave’s Hopper.
San Juan River:
- Midges Sz.18-26: Rootbeer colored midge pupa has been producing well lately. Scissorbill Special, Red Brassie, Big Mac, Griffith Gnats.
- BWO’s Sz.18-22; Two Bit Hooker, Juju baetis, WD-40s, Pheasant Tail, RS-2s, CDC Comparaduns.
- Olive and tan scuds sizes 14-18.
- Brown, Olive, and White bunny leaches or buggers of the same color. Tan chamois Leeches size 16.`
- Red annelids Sz. 20-22. San Juan Worms, Sz. 16-20 in tan, pink, or red.
- Egg patterns, Sz. 16 in orange, pink, and cherise.
- Make sure to have a few size 14 ant patterns just in case such as a Black Stimulator or Amy’s Ant.