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Fishing report: Be not afraid

Will Sands
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT – As we move later into spring, the most significant change we will begin to see is the changing of water clarity, especially on the Roaring Fork. Water clarity certainly affects fishing conditions, and anglers can use it to their advantage.

While we are blessed with our local rivers running practically gin-clear most of the year, the first signs of discolored water often scare anglers from getting out to wet a line. However, as our local water conditions change from gin-clear to slightly off-color, the change can make for exceptional fishing – with some slight adjustments.

The first adjustment anglers need to make when they approach off-colored water is to determine whether it’s just off-color or truly blown out and unfishable. A general rule of thumb is “green is good, brown is bad.” This guide simply means if the river has taken on a green color, then it is more than fishable. If it is chocolate-brown, however, then it’s probably time to head elsewhere.

Before you perceive the river as blown out, you need to determine if there is any visibility at all. This can be determined by actually wading out into a foot to 2 feet of water and looking down at your boots. If you can see down a foot, then it is fishable. If you can see your boots in 2 feet of water, then it is more than fishable. Also take note of the fact that the clearest water is along the bank, and fish will move tighter to the bank.

The next step to handling off-colored water is increasing the size and brightness of your flies. Larger flies and brighter flies will be noticed more readily in the off-colored water. Generally speaking, fly patterns such as San Juan worms, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Red Copper Johns, large Prince Nymphs and large stonefly patterns will produce well in off-colored water.

So, remember: Just because things are changing a bit does not mean it’s time to give up. And always remember the Fryingpan will always run gin-clear from the base of the Ruedi Dam downstream for three miles or so when everything else in the valley gets too muddy.


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