Like most freestone rivers, the Roaring Fork is hit or miss right now. Finding relatively ice-free sections that contain slow pools and runs is key. Overall, the morning hours are slow but with recent mild temperatures, productivity has been picking up between 11 am and 12 pm. If overnight temps hold above 20 degrees, 10-11 am is a good time to hit the river. If overnight temps drop below 20 degrees, you’re better off letting the river sit until noon to allow the ice/slush runoff to clear out. Ice jam breaks are common this time of year, so be alert and careful when wading. Getting caught in one of these could be extremely dangerous. Small midge larva/pupa, searcher and attractor patterns are all productive options right now. Double midge setups are a great place to start but if you’re struggling to get the trout’s attention, switch to a triple nymph rig and trail a midge larva and pupa below a larger pattern (Rainbow Warrior, Frenchie, Guide’s Choice Hare’s Ear, Pheasant Tail etc.). Flows hit a low of 295 cfs on Sunday but have since risen into the mid 300 cfs range. This increase added some color to the water but there is still enough visibility to sight fish.
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The Roaring Fork is a gold medal freestone river that originates in the Hunter-Fryingpan wilderness, just south of Aspen. The Roaring Fork flows north through the town of Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood springs where it meets the Colorado River. As it makes its way through the Roaring Fork Valley, the river increases in size from a small pocket water stream to a wide river. The upper section of the river near Aspen is home to cutthroats, brown trout and rainbow trout. Downstream, the river is populated with healthy rainbows, browns and whitefish.
The Roaring Fork has something to offer every angler. Anglers looking for small stream fishing and easy access will gravitate towards the stretch between Aspen and Basalt. From Basalt to Glenwood Springs, the river offers great wade fishing year-round and float fishing from late spring through the fall. The most popular stretch for float fishing is Carbondale to Glenwood Springs, which is ideal because wading access is limited by private property. The Roaring Fork experiences a vast number of hatches throughout the year consisting of midges, BWOs, PMDs, green drakes, caddis, golden stoneflies, yellow sallys and terrestrials. While these trout are generally less selective like most freestone trout, high water clarity throughout most of the year can make fishing more technical. Nymphing and streamer fishing is the most consistent tactic but if you time it right, you’ll experience fantastic dry fly fishing during one of the many hatches.
Depending upon the stretch you wish to fish, accessibility varies. Between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, access is limited due to a large amount of private property, but there are a number of SWA and public access points for anglers to utilize. Above Carbondale, anglers will find more access points. The Roaring Fork River parallels highway 82 from Glenwood Springs to Aspen. So, if you’re looking to explore the river, drive south along highway 82 towards Aspen and keep an eye out for pull-offs and marked access points. Refer to the map below for some of our favorite access points.