On the Fly column: Runoff goes from lamb to lion
May the lamb will turn into June the lion over the coming weeks, as we finally warm up enough to kick runoff into gear. If any of you have taken a jaunt recently into the high country, you’ve undoubtedly seen the huge amount of snow that hasn’t started melting yet above 9,000 feet. This past week I took a drive to the upper Fryingpan above Ruedi to see what’s what, and to tell you there is still plenty of deep snow up high would be the understatement of the year. There are similar reports up the Crystal and Roaring Fork as well.
Ruedi Reservoir is completely ice-free, and has reportedly come up five feet in recent weeks. The upper forks of the Fryingpan River weren’t that bad looking, although the water is ice cold and tea-stained. Chapman Lake was already iced off but not yet open to the public. Nast Lake road was still pretty snowy and had a bunch of fallen trees keeping me from going down to the lake to investigate. Twin Meadows easily had six feet of snow, although the road was plowed nicely up to the first lake.
Beaver Lake in Marble is ice-free now too, and the upper Crystal River has been looking clearer than below Redstone, where various feeder creeks have been adding quite a bit of color recently. This will change over the coming weeks with the warmup as we ease in to some real runoff. We saw the Crystal go all the way to 1,000 cubic feet per second a few weeks ago, but this bigger flow has dissipated with the cooling trend of late. It’s about to get real.
Keep in mind the cycles we tend to see regarding snowmelt; the Crystal, Roaring Fork and Colorado will look dirtiest in the mornings and cleanest in the afternoons. If you can see your boots under the water, I’d say it’s game on. The main hatch on the freestones will be caddis in the near future, which relish high and bright sun in addition to ideal water temperatures to induce the hatch. Big water is on our doorstep, but get ready for vastly improved river flows this summer.
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This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or taylorcreek.com.
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