Fishing report: Mud-season tactics |

Fishing report: Mud-season tactics

Kirk Webb
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT – Spring runoff is here. The water levels of the Roaring Fork, Colorado and Crystal rivers are beginning to rise and become discolored. What’s an angler to do? Fish anyhow, that’s what.

Believe it or not, experienced fly fishers are still able to catch fish during these challenging periods. Many insects become active during mud season, including a variety of species of stoneflies and caddis. Larger attractor patterns such as Cat Poops, San Juan Worms, Spanflex Stones, Electric Caddis, Cranefly Larva, Princes, Stimulators and Rogue Stones are all patterns that fish well during this time of year.

Heavier tippets can be employed due to the discolored water and the large size of the flies being fished. Look for the fish to escape to the calmer sections and pockets of the river where they expend less energy battling the heavier currents. Many times, the fish will literally hold within a foot or two of the riverbank. Short and heavy two- or three-fly nymph rigs are best under these conditions when no rising fish are present.

Don’t worry too much about having the “right fly” or flies on the end of your line, as the fish feed much more opportunistically during these periods. It is of much more importance to cover water and to be sure that your flies are staying in the strike zone, whether it’s getting your nymphs on the bottom or keeping your dries in the soft pockets of water.

I know several guides who prefer to fish under these perceived tough conditions instead of making the run to the Fryingpan River or other tailwater fisheries. Why catch lethargic 10-inch fish when you can stick red-hot rainbows and browns that commonly exceed 18 inches in length?

I encourage you to challenge yourself and your skills as a fly angler and learn how to catch fish during mud season. Once you get dialed in on the 411, I think you’ll be surprised to see how easy and fun it can be to catch quality fish through the mud when everyone else thinks it’s not possible.