In the last week, flows on the Middle Colorado, near Pumphouse, have increased steadily due in part by sustained higher flows at the Williams Fork, but also consistent rain. This coupled with comparatively mild weather have led to dramatic improvements in productivity and safe fishing conditions. While full day fishing closures, between Red Dirt Creek and Rifle, remain in place, the water upstream is fair game and fishing well. Water temps are peaking in the low 60’s def F range and trout are happy for it. Water clarity has worsened and is especially low after periods of sustained rain and the subsequent runoff from the various feeder creeks. However, visibility is decent in the early hours of the day. While hatch activity has been fairly consistent over the last few days with midges, red quills, BWOs, caddis and stoneflies all making regular appearances, surface action has been comparatively slow given lower volume hatches and reduced water clarity. With this in mind, stick with a heavy nymph rig or streamer set up for the best results. When nymphing, bigger lead flies that are dark in profile like a Pats, leech or worm followed by one or more smaller searchers/attractors like a Rainbow Warrior, Flashback PT, Guide’s Choice Hare’s Ear or Copper John have been effective. That said, don’t discount those smaller imitations in the midge, baetis and caddis variety, especially leading up to or during the hatch. As far as streamers go, dark and flashy patterns that move a lot of water will produce the most consistent results the majority of the day. However, during periods of sun exposure and higher water clarity you’ll want to consider a more neutral or light colored fly. Otherwise, hopper droppers have been highly effective when fished along the banks. Again, surface action can be hit or miss but you can be sure to entice a few angry browns.
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The Colorado River, which flows through seven US states and two Mexican states originates in Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park. There are three sections of river as it pertains to the state of Colorado, the Upper, Middle and Lower. The middle section begins in Gore Canyon near Kremmling and flows southwest to the town of Dotsero, six miles west of Gypsum off of I-70. On this picturesque stretch of river you'll find numerous Brown and Rainbow Trout as well as Rocky Mountain White Fish (or Whities). While this freestone river does experience its share of crowds especially near the Pumphouse access point and through Gore Canyon, solitude is just a float away.
The Middle Colorado is great for anglers of all skill sets and preferences. While wading is certainly a option through Gore Canyon down to Needle Eye, you will be restricted to the banks for the most part. The stretch between Gore Canyon and Rancho Del Rio is generally the most busy as it offers a number of camping and entertainment options. That being said, it holds sizable trout and is a great float. If you're fortunate enough to float, we high recommend it. Fishing via raft is one our favorite ways to go as you can cover a lot of ground in a short period of time and access water only accessible by boat. We like to pull the boat out from time to time and fish that low pressure water or to enjoy a beverage. After Gore Canyon and depending on flows, you're looking a very manageable and fishing friendly float. For the most part you'll be dealing with class II water with the occasional class III rapid. This is a great river to learn how to row as there are minimal consequences and the water is generally forgiving. However, if you've never been behind the oars, we recommend learning from an experienced rower.
There are a number of access points along the middle Colorado. Arguably, the most popular is at Pumphouse. Traveling from Denver, take I-70 West to Silverthorne then head north on Highway 9. Take CO-9 N roughly 35 miles to County Road 1(Trough Road), just before you reach Kremmling. From there you will take County Road 1 for 15 miles until you've reached the Pumphouse access road. If you plan on starting below Rancho Del Rio, we recommend passing Silverthorne and taking I-70 until you've reached the town of Wolcott just past the town of Edwards. From there you will take Colorado State Highway 131 until you reach the water.