Fishing report: Midge madness |

Fishing report: Midge madness

Kirk Webb
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT – As we quickly approach the month of March, several exciting changes take place along the rivers of the Roaring Fork Valley.

Forget about basketball and March Madness – this is the time of year when anglers return to fishing the gold medal waters of the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork rivers. Longer and warmer days signal the most overlooked hatch of the entire year: midges. What these minute insects lack in size they make up for in sheer numbers. During afternoons and early evenings these diminutive insects hatch in such massive numbers that they often ball or cluster up in soft (slow) pieces of water where they become easy meals for trout that are hungry after a long and cold winter.

Early in the morning you’ll want to focus on fishing various midge larva patterns such as TC Red Midges, Bling Midges, Capt. Hooks and Pure Midges in shades of red, gray and black. These flies should be fished in the deeper seams and pools with plenty of split shot to drive them near the river bottom.

As the day wears on and the air and water temperatures rise, look for trout to slowly transition to shallower riffles where the midges prefer to hatch. Pupa and emerger patterns now become effective. Medallion Midges, Biot Midges and RS-2s are all superb fly patterns to match this stage of the midges’ life cycle. During this time the fish feed aggressively, and the possibility of catching numbers of fish increases. Keep a sharp eye and look for signs of fish activity such as flashes, boils and rises.

Anglers will relish the late afternoon and early evening hours, as the sheer numbers of midge adults on the surface promote some exciting and overlooked dry fly-fishing opportunities.

If you’ve yet to try fly-fishing during this time of year, hiring an experienced local guide will greatly benefit you. The lower Roaring Fork below Carbondale, the Fryingpan above Basalt, as well as the Colorado River below Glenwood Springs are all superb places to encounter this epic hatch. Tandem dry-fly setups using a high-visibility cluster midge – such as a Hi-Viz Griffiths Gnat trailed by a surface midge emerger pattern like a Bills Midge Emerger, Morgans Parachute Midge or Frying Pan Emerger in sizes 18-22 – will suffice.

Midge Madness is here, don’t miss it!

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