Harlan’s Fishing Outlook for May
Bring on May! For me, this month can bring some of the most exciting fishing of the year. All the larger freestone rivers and stillwaters have iced off and fish are looking to pack on some pounds after a long winter. We are still seeing pre-runoff conditions with just slightly elevated flows. Lower river valleys have been getting stained with runoff, so our fishing efforts have largely focused on upstream sections to take advantage of clarity and hatches.
The Colorado River Basin is currently sitting at 90% of average and we hope for the continuation of a cooler spring to hold our snowpack for as long as possible. Expect full-blown runoff to start at the end of May/Beginning of June.
In terms of hatches, expect to see BWO’s and midges throughout the month of May. If warmer weather persists, caddis will be here before we know it. Reports of sparse caddis hatches have been reported on the lower Arkansas and Colorado. I know the anticipation of the Salmonfly hatch is on everybody’s mind. Water temps on the Upper Colorado hit almost 53 degrees last week before the air temps cooled slightly, so the nymphs have definitively been on the move, putting the big bugs on the map for the month of May.
This stillwater brown ate a white streamer in a shallow bay.
Predator fishing on local still-waters has been very consistent since ice-off and will only continue to heat up through May as water temperatures and levels increase and bring lake trout, pike, big resident rainbows, and browns near to the banks. My personal favorite way to target predators after ice-off is to streamer fish off the bank. You can also bobber fish off the bank with leeches and chironomids. Look for large flats with some depth or rock structure and you should run into a couple of willing predators.
Hot Flies for May:
JUJU Baetis Purple 18-22
Charlies Chronic Caddis Olive or Chartreuse
Tungsten Split Case BWO 18-20
San Juan Worm Purple 12
Pat's Rubber Legs Black 6-12
Sparkle Dun Baetis 18-22
Extended Body BWO 18-22
Gulper Special Olive 20-22
SnoShoe Midge Cluster 20-22
Parachute Adams 16-22
Circus Peanut White
Double Gonga Black or Yellow
Meat Whistle Crawdad
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