Fishing report: Dry-fly paradise

Will Sands
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT – It’s mid-August and the fishing on the Fryingpan River is at its peak.

Dry-fly anglers from across the globe travel to Basalt in hopes of hitting one of the most epic hatches in the West, the green drake mayfly. Along with green drakes, pale morning dun (PMD) and blue-wing olive (BWO) mayflies will also be seen in large numbers. Midges and rusty spinners are also on tap in the morning and evening hours.

With such a myriad of hatches occurring, it is important to keep a sharp eye and learn when and where to present the correct offerings. As an obsessed dry-fly fisherman, I live for this time of year when you can seemingly find rising fish all day long. After all, that’s why I moved to this valley in the first place. You’d be hard pressed to find better dry-fly fishing anywhere. It’s that good.

During the morning and evening hours, look for rusty spinners (the spent stage of the PMD mayfly) and midges to dominate. Generally speaking, backwater eddies and other areas of soft water are key to finding fish that are focused on the spinner fall. Late mornings yield good midge hatches, especially along the upper river. BWO mayflies will hatch next and can often be seen in fishable numbers by 10:30 a.m. or so. Despite their diminutive size, fish readily eat these small mayflies. The “big show,” though, starts right around the noon hour, when the larger mayflies, the PMDs and drakes, take flight and begin to hatch.

As of late, the PMD hatch on the Fryingpan can only be described as heavy or thick. The PMDs are perhaps the most glamorous of the mayfly species, as they are often pink or melon-colored, with smoky-dun-colored wings.

Not to be outdone, the green drake, the largest of our mayflies, is considered the “hatch of hatches” by most anglers. Any time this massive insect is on the water, the trout rise with reckless abandon. Look for these two hatches to take place from noon up until 4 or 5 p.m.


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