BASALT - It's finally April and the fishing is ramping up in a very big way on all local waters. Over the course of the past week and a half, I was fortunate enough to spend time with my 18-year-old brother, Scott, who was on his spring vacation from high school. Having a large age gap between the two of us, it was the first time in several years that we were able to fish together.
We fished long and hard every day as we explored the Fryingpan, Roaring Fork, Colorado and Crystal rivers in addition to Rifle Gap Reservoir and several warmwater ponds in the Rifle area. My brother has yet see the entire Roaring Fork Valley, let alone fish it, so it gave us a great opportunity to spend time together playing in the outdoors and getting to know each other better.
The month of April to fly fishers equates to the year's first legitimate mayfly hatch - of the blue-wing olive. With below average snowpack, our fishing season is peaking much earlier than it did last year. While floating the Roaring Fork on Monday from Catherine's Store to Carbondale, I saw one of the heaviest hatches of blue-wing olives that I've ever encountered. The weather was ideal (warm and overcast) and provided outstanding dry-fly fishing for several hours between 11a.m. and 3 p.m.
The upper Roaring Fork below Aspen has also awakened from its winter slumber. Hatches of midges, blue-wing olives, caddis and stoneflies are all being seen. Generally speaking, the fish are focusing on the smaller insects in the softer water and the larger insects in the faster water. Small nymphs fished in the deeper slots are producing plenty of fish before and after the midday hatches.
The Fryingpan River often gets overshadowed at this time of year due to the superb fishing taking place on the Roaring Fork, but don't let that fool you into thinking that it's not fishing well; the fishing is remarkably good. Look for the best fishing with the most varied and heaviest hatches to take place along the middle and lower river, well below the dam.
Your overall fly selection for any local river should include: pheasant tails, BTS baetis, RIP baetis, Barr emergers, biot midges, RS-2s, rubberleg stones, electric caddis, buckskins, sparkledun BWOs, parachute quill BWO, Bill's midge emerger and transitional midges.
If you haven't ditched the ski's yet, it's time to pick up the fly rod and start fishing hard.