Harlan's Fishing Outlook for May

As runoff ramps up here in the mountains, we have a lot to look forward to during the month of May. With the ice beginning to retreat from our reservoirs, it's one of our favorite times of year to get out and do some stillwater fishing. Whether you heading to South Park to fish Spinney or Antero, or head north to fish Green Mountain or Wolford; there are plenty of hungry fish cruising the banks looking for an easy meal. We do expect Wolford Reservoir to become muddy during runoff, but once that clears it will fish very well the rest of the summer. Bobber rigs with leeches, chironomids, and general attractor flies will be effective throughout spring. If you're looking to work a little harder for a potentially bigger payoff, spend all day stripping streamers at the inlets or near drop offs where fish can cruise close to shore. There are trophy fish scattered throughout all our stillwater options, sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time, but that’s fishing right? 

Freestone rivers are going to be hit or miss for the month of May. The Colorado and Eagle are going to receive a much needed flush of high water and we are already seeing almost “unfishable” conditions at places like Pumphouse and downstream from Walcott on the Eagle. My last float down from Pumphouse produced some fish, but it was slowww. Large attractors like Pat’s Rubber Legs and Squirmy Worms were about the only thing we were able to get them to eat. Water temperatures on our freestone rivers are still quite cold making the trout lethargic. Once water temperatures warm up, even with the dirty water, fish should begin to move into shallower/faster riffle water feeding more consistently. The Arkansas river is fishing very well at the moment and should continue throughout the month of May. The Ark valley did not receive as much snow as other parts of the state making for a more mild runoff thus far. The famous Mother’s Day Caddis hatch has also been present on The Ark. A few of our guides have been wading in the lower sections and are reporting BWO’s in the morning followed by Caddis in the afternoon. There has been off-color water reported down near Salida but further upstream should remain fairly clear. 
Remember to keep an eye on turbidity gauges throughout runoff. In our experience, anything under 20 FNU can have very productive fishing, anything above that I would expect muddied waters that can make the condition a lot more challenging. Currently the Colorado River at Catamount is reading 50-60 FNU’s… so you can imagine what that might look like. 


Both Blue River tailwaters are fishing fantastic as of late. There’s a large population of trout in town that make for great sight fishing opportunities. Be careful of going too far downstream towards Green Mountain. We are seeing muddied water closer to the inlet from the small creeks pushing in runoff. Baetis and midge patterns are going to be your most productive bugs when the river is clear (in town). Small stoneflies, worms and egg patterns will be good attractor flies to fish downstream where the river tends to grow in size. Follow those with your usual baetis, midge and even some small caddis nymphs to find success this May.

Pat's Rubber Legs 8-12
Shotglass Baetis 
Flashtail Mini Egg 
UV Midges
Elk Hair Caddis
Parachute Adams 
Extended Body BWO 
Buckskin Caddis
San Juan Worms

Sign up for our Newsletter

* indicates required