On the Fly: Hatches abound in the Roaring Fork Valley
July 15, 2017
The most often-asked question in a fly shop is: "What's hatching out there?"
Here in the Roaring Fork Valley, the answer can be slightly complicated (in a good way). From the ice-cold and pH-balanced Fryingpan to the very healthy Roaring Fork and everything in between, we are blessed with incredible insect life around here.
The answer to the hatch question is best answered by which stream, river or lake the angler is inquiring about.
On the Fryingpan, there is a plethora of bugs hatching through summer. Mayflies varying from size 10 to 20 are ever-present, consisting of green drakes, pale morning duns, red quills, baetis and plenty of others. Be prepared to encounter caddis in smaller sizes, midges, craneflies, yellow sallies and some terrestrials also. Most people find the Fryingpan to be a bit technical through summer, so be prepared with exact imitations and light tippets to fool these "smart" fish.
The Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers boast very good hatches of drakes, yellow sallies, caddis and pale morning duns with plenty of other bugs mixed in. Many find the crowds to be lighter on these bigger rivers and the fish to be a bit less selective, but perception is reality, as they say. The upper reaches of these rivers are best waded, and the lower floated. The Crystal River has all of these same hatches, and is definitely the river to fish if you despise the two-legged hatch.
Most of our lakes have quite a bit of insect life varying from callibaetis, chironomids, scuds and especially damselflies. Not all "trout food" in lakes comes from the water, so keep beetles, ants and especially flying ants handy in those fly boxes. Lake fish aren't above eating their own, so a few small wooly buggers representing small fry are a good bet, too.
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If you are headed to small high country streams, a few attractor dries and droppers are just about all you need, and you have a chance to see any and all of the hatches mentioned above.
So, what's hatching? Just about everything you can think of, plus more!