Fishing Outlook for May!

We are now entering what some call "The Fifth Season" in Colorado. It's not quite spring, and it's not quite winter. We're experiencing snow, sun, rain and everything in between. This time of year the fishing can be very productive if you're willing to curveball and explore around the state to find the best water to fish. Certain stretches of river are starting to become high and off-color depending on weather trends. During this period of warm and cool weather, be sure to keep an eye on river and creek gauges as flows will fluctuate. Dramatic increases on the graph will result in off-color runoff conditions. If temperatures cool and the gauge drops expect to see better water clarity and in turn, better fishing conditions. We will start to see more activity coming from insects, specifically molting stoneflies and two of our favorites, Blue Winged Olives and Caddis! As you can see below, snowpack is sitting right around average at the moment. We are having a gradual start to runoff which is best for keeping steady, cool flows throughout the summer. 



RIVER REPORT: Freestone river conditions vary greatly this time of year depending on the section, weather etc. A good rule of thumb is to expect better clarity on the upstream stretches. Most of the Arkansas River upstream from Salida is in great condition at the moment. Keep your dry fly box handy as good hatches of BWOS and even some caddis hatches have been present. The Colorado River is becoming off-color but is still very fishable at the upper stretches near Rancho, Pumphouse and Parshall. As the water temperatures rise the fishing will increasingly get better even if clarity is off. Our best flies on the Colorado River have been a mixture of flashy jig patterns like the Frenchies and Rainbow Warriors, as well as worm and stoneflies like Pat's Rubber Legs or Sparkle Worms. Streamers are always a good option in the spring as fish are looking for extra calories after a long, cold winter. Warmer days with cloud cover can be really productive with streamers. Try dark colors during a cloudy day and lighter/flashy colors during a brighter day. 

Stay in touch with tailwater outflows as fishing can be very productive after a small increase to give the fish some extra room and food sources to take advantage of. The Blue, Williams Fork, and Dream Stream will all be in play for the month of May. We are still running small baetis, stoneflies, eggs, leeches and midges on most tailwaters this time of year. If you see a large increase in flows, try a worm pattern as these will start to get washed into the river from the banks. 


The vast majority of our lakes below 10,000 feet are ice free and stillwater season has officially begun! Lake fishing has been better later in the day and there isn’t a giant need to get out there too early. Establish a plan to fish specific locations utilizing satellite maps before you go and vary your spots between points, coves, and flats. If one isn't producing after 90-120 minutes, vary it up. Fishing within 6-12 inches of the bottom will usually be best but shallow it up if you see more bugs or fish activity near the surface.  I like to start with a black midge or gray callibaetis size 16-18 dropped down to a balanced leech. Use a hot head leech if the water is off-colored or a black, olive or brown leech if water clarity is +4 feet. If I’m not getting leech eats, I’ll switch that bottom fly up to a smaller midge or callibaetis as well. Streamers are never a bad idea when it comes to chasing large predatory fish in the lakes. Utilize a long piece of fluorocarbon (9-11 feet) with a weighted fly (Gonga or Kreelex) when fishing a floating fly line. An intermediate sink line with less waited flies (Barely Legal or Murdich Minnow) will also be effective when dragging those flies along the bottom. Waiting 5 seconds for your streamer to sink can help and your stripping should be sporadic with some pauses every 4-5 strips. Patience is key and don’t be surprised if the fishing varies over the course of the day. Slow windows followed by an hour or two of great fishing are to be expected and the rewards are worth it! 

Sign up for our Newsletter

* indicates required