An angler fly fishing Colorado in May will experience various river conditions due to the warming temperatures and melting snow.
With May’s arrival means a lot of variations for fly fishermen. Trout are continuing to come out of their winter patterns and feed more. From February-ish to early April, nymphs were the norm with midges coming on as temperatures rose. The caddis hatch in mid to late April, even early May, makes for some phenomenal dry fly fishing.
It’s always a glorious couple months for Colorado anglers in the first quarter of the year, when winter starts to slowly release its grip and ultimately let us go fishing. Sure, some rivers stay open year-round. But when you find a favorite spot at higher elevation that freezes in November, it can feel like eternity waiting for it to open back up.
Fly Fishing Colorado in May
An angler fly fishing Colorado in May will experience various river conditions due to the warming temperatures and melting snow. Winter fishing is over. In some places, spring fishing is too.
Rivers, especially western rivers, are controlled by several natural causes including snow pack and temperature. And, for the most part, you can forecast year to year about when they’ll reach flood stage and recede back to a wadeable level. That time in Colorado is now.
There are a handful of rivers that are currently holding at optimal levels for fishing. So don’t get totally discouraged if you’re planning a trip to Colorado in early May. However, wait too late in the month and you should prepare yourself to find a lot of rivers heading steadily to flood stage.
May is the month that rivers are most heavily influenced by temperature and snow pack. So if you find yourself staring forlornly at off-color rivers, don’t waste your time because fishing is really tough if not futile.
Look to the Lakes
Fly fishing Colorado in May is a great time for anglers to begin looking at lakes as options to land some nice trout. There are hundreds of lakes easily accessible to all levels of anglers. Then there are lakes that aren’t so accessible for the more serious fishermen.
These lakes require a high-altitude hike through rugged terrain. But let us say, once you get there and the fish are rising and there’s not another soul in sight, you will likely have a fly fishing experience that you won’t soon forget. Just be sure to pack the proper clothing as weather changes quickly at high elevations. Take lots of water and snacks. If you’re feeling really adventurous, camp.
Go Creek Hopping
Feeder creeks that trickle for 11 months out of the year are rising with the temperatures. Fish will move into these creeks as the rivers become off-color and fast. You’ll have opportunities at native fish, mostly rainbows, in these creeks. Some will require a fair hike to access, but that’s where the fishing is at its best, away from the crowds. Other creeks you’ll find right off the road though expect to spend some time carving out a spot for you and your friends.
Then there’s the famous lower stretch of the San Juan River below Navajo Dam. When all else fails, this dam-controlled section is typically still fishable. You may be casting alongside a hundred other anglers to the same fish that have seen every fly in the book. But at least you’re still fishing.
If you’re in Colorado in May, you’ll experience a wonderful change of seasons. Spring in Colorado is like no other. As is summer. Maybe we’re just biased, but each of the four seasons holds a uniqueness that you won’t find anywhere else in the country.
Overall, as for the fishing conditions, it’s spring. And sometimes hard to tell. That’s why local knowledge and gathering firsthand information are always important components for any outdoor pursuit, especially fly fishing.