Last Update:February 20, 2024
The Uncompahgre River or “The Unc” for short, offers year round fly fishing opportunities, particularly productive on tailwater sections below Ridgway Reservoir. Tailwater access begins with Ridgway State Park and the Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground area, locally known as “Paco.” Spring Summer and Fall are the best times of year on the tailwater, while wintertime offers a chance to move downstream and fish more urban sections of through the City of Montrose. Paco offers easy access for beginners or those with mobility issues, while challenging the most seasoned anglers with its noteworthy larger size selective resident trout.
Paco water levels have receded to winter flows. While the fish will still rise for the occasional dry fly, we prefer a double nymph rig approach. Fish are actively feeding on emergers and nymphs, especially midges. Egg patterns and trout beads are a great nymphing option this time of year. Lower flows mean the fish are condensed and are getting spooky. To maximize your success, consider lengthening your leaders and stepping down your tippet to 6x Fluorocarbon. Fluoro sinks faster than monofilament and is harder for fish to see. When using a double nymph rig, we suggest using a leech or worm for the lead fly, followed by a nymph or emerger pattern. For the trailing fly, we recommend size 22 and 24 BWO and midge emergers. The Unc is down to winter flows in Montrose. We recommend caddis and BWO nymphs and emergers for nymphing patterns. If you see afternoon rises, opt for BWO or other small mayfly dry flies.
Recommended Fly Patterns
Demon Midge Red #22, Slim Shady #20-22 Tan, Massacre Midge #20-24, Epoxy Back BWO #20 Mayer’s Mini Leech #16-14, Juju Baetis #20-22, Span Juan Worm #16 Red or Pink, Hell Razor Leech #14, Juan's Money Midge #22-24, Mercury Black Beauty #22, Two Bit Midge #20-22, Mini Flashtail Egg #18
FLIES FOR THE UNCOMPAHGRE RIVER
RIGS Fly Shop & Guide Service UNCOMPAHGRE River Hatch Chart ©
THE UNCOMPAHGRE RIVER
The Uncompahgre River starts high above Ouray Colorado with many small creek tributaries before is flows through Ridgway and into Ridgway State Park Reservoir. After the tailwater section at Pa-Co-Chu-Puk, the Uncompahgre river moves through Colona, Montrose and then joins the Gunnison River outside of Delta.
Uncompahgre River Tailwater Section: Consider sight fishing to target a specific fish vs. blind casting. First locate a feeding trout, stalk to an ideal casting location, then select the appropriate fly based on feeding behavior and accurately present the fly – first cast. Since there can be additional fishing pressure in the Ridgway State Park and the Pa-Co-Chu-Puk area over summer months, make sure to select quality technical fly patterns to target specific hatches or to present small tailwater nymph patterns.
Uncompahgre River Montrose Section: (Winter vs. Summer). Powerful seasonal irrigation flows (April – September) are diverted from the Gunnison Tunnel and contribute to Uncompahgre River just upstream of the City of Montrose, bringing heavily increased releases and swift currents to the city section for a majority of the fishing season. You’ll have to focus fishing tight to the banks to avoid swift waters and be careful attempting to wade this section during summer irrigation season. *More stable and fishable river levels are found upstream towards Ridgway and the Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground area.
Fly Fishing Gear & Equipment for Uncompahgre River:
- 5 weight to 6 weight, 8’6”’ to 11’ Fly Rods with WF floating fly lines are ideal for presenting small delicate dry flies, high stick nymph drifts on tight seams, or vegetated banks and open meadow situations.
- 6x to 5x leader & tippets (fluorocarbon for nymphing and monofilament for dries) will cover most situations on the Uncompahgre, as fly patterns are often small and fish a bit leader shy. Consider shorter length leaders to turn over dry flies in tight quarters or to present dry dropper rigs with better accuracy.
- Core dry flies for match the hatch, tiny midges and emergers for selective fish, ants beetles and leaches are essential Paco flies, while larger patterns are fished downriver. Visit the Fly Shop for a curated selection of proven and successful fly patterns ideal for this specific drainage and time of year you are visiting.
- Small natural colored poly yarn indicators for spooky fish and light take detection on small midges and emergers, and good variation in split shot size to dial in depth for selective fish in feeding lanes. Plus, plenty of dry fly floatant and dry shake for longer delicate drifts and small dry fly presentation.
- Remember essentials like a rain jacket, day pack, bug spray, and packable food and water for a day’s exploration of this unique tailwater fishery. *Don’t forget your net for proper catch and release fish handling.
Low: 23° F / High: 43° F
Low: 30° F / High: 49° F
Low: 33° F / High: 51° F
Snow Showers Likely
Low: 29° F / High: 50° F
Chance Snow Showers
Low: 17° F / High: 37° F