"You should've been here yesterday." How many times have you heard that phrase? Whether you fish or maybe surf, such was my case growing up, when you hear good things like big waves or a great bite, you try to get to the spot as soon as you can. Well, after a fun day a couple weeks ago on the Upper Colorado system, particularly the Blue and Williams Fork, I had to go back and wouldn't you know, the flows dropped about 3 inches and all the riffles that held fish were now deserted. Just my luck when I decided to share the "hot" bite with a friend, David Britton from Project Healing Waters.
After I had caught more than a half-dozen fish pushing 18 to 21 inches the week before, we planned to go and have some fun. Little did we know, flows dropped visibly 3 inches or so along the shoreline and riffles that were primed for rainbows and browns at about 3 feet deep were now only about 2 feet deep. A significant drop which pushed all the sight fishing ideas out the window. The pods of rainbows had retreated to deeper pools, out of sight. Not only that, but a storm front was pushing through and we rode a roller coaster of conditions with nice sun one minute and sideways cornball snow the next.
The head of the riffle I had caught four rainbows and a couple browns the week before only produced a couple browns. They hit an Umpqua Barr's Emerger in a Trico pattern. David managed a nice brown a little further up with a flashback pheasant tail. After a miserable hour of cold wind and snow, we explored upstream only to find a few fish in the deep run near the access cutoff below the dam.
We called it a day with only a few fish coming to the net. We passed a group of three anglers who were targeting the long pool below where we had started the day. One of them had had good luck drifting a Woolly Bugger and a pheasant tail. He had obviously found the hole where all my previously mentioned fish had decided to hold up until flows and conditions became favorable again.
Should you head out to the Williams Fork soon, check with Cutthroat Anglers or one of the other fly shops in the region that monitor flows. The river's fish aren't too picky, but to really enjoy the river and all that it offers, flows should be at least 60 cfs or more. Good luck on your next outing. If you like this report and would like to keep up to date on action around Colorado, click the subscribe button and you'll be sent my stories each time I write.