The Ramblings of a Fly Fisherman

Flow Reports and Planning a Weekend Fly Fishing Trip

There is not a lot of information regarding river flows and their impact on fishing and what I have found seems to be inconsistent. Many fly fishers just know what the optimal cubic feet per second (cfs) for a given river is based on local guide recommendations and determine what to do or how to fish from that. In reality, understanding these conditions can determine where to fish, the how, the flies to use, etc… It is important to know this type of information in advance as it will often outline the success of your entire trip. As always, contacting local guides is a great option, but you can also do a little research in advance to help narrow your search for that great weekend location.

1. The most optimal wading cfs is between 200 and 400. Now obviously, flow rates lower than 200 are easy to wade in, but not as optimal for catching trout. In those cases, you will typically find yourself searching for pocket water thus minimizing your overall fishing real-estate.

2. There are lots of flow and fishing reports that you can review online. Be sure to check the dates of these reports as I have often found reports that were a few weeks old making them pretty much useless. The USGS is probably the best place to start.

3. Contact local guides in the area by phone. I think that this is a resource that is underutilized. Many anglers that I have seen in fly shops will just ask “what flies should I use?”, purchase those and then go on their way. These guides KNOW that river and for the most part, want you to be successful. Talk to them about flow rates, fishing conditions, technique, etc… I have found that most of these guys are very knowledgeable and are certainly willing to point you in the right direction, even if you aren’t booking a trip that day.

The USGS is a good place to start when attempting to determine current stream flow before planning your weekend fly fishing trip - USGS Real Time Streamflow

The Colorado Fishing Network hosts up-to-date fishing reports, many from the local guides in the area - Colorado Fishing Network Fishing Reports


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