On the Fly: Has the worm turned?

Scott Spooner
On the Fly

A solitary winter angler on the Roaring Fork in Glenwood Springs. Photo by Scott Spooner

The top mile of the Fryingpan tailwater is a place of legend, where large fish are known to be as picky as your kids at the dining room table. Seemingly, during January, it is one of the only places to fish here in the Valley, but things are already changing out there for the fly angler. Ice that once choked the Roaring Fork has started to clear. The Colorado has seen some decent midge hatches, which recent 40-ish degree days have helped usher in. There are sections of the Roaring Fork that are open from bank to bank, depending on the elevation and how much sunlight can hit it. Let’s hope for a wet February and March!

Sure, there are some bitter cold and icy weeks to come, but it already feels as though the proverbial worm has turned. With the lack of snow we are seeing, boat ramps have been accessible for floats on the Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers throughout this winter, depending on overnight temperatures. Nights have been on the warm side this past week, allowing the bigger rivers to remain relatively slush-free in the lower elevations. It’s much easier to get your heavy nymphs down in the trout zone when there is no surface slush for them to get hung up on.

Another factor in the fly fisher’s favor is the fish behavior this time of year. Most fish aren’t fanned out over the entire river now, they are in the deep, slow sections where food, oxygen and protection from predators is found. Simply put, they are mostly piled together in the softer water where they don’t have to expend much energy. This is akin to finding fish during spring runoff, when most are reliably a foot off the bank where they can take a break from the current. Once you dial in where they are, hookups should follow. I hope you can take some time to get out there and fish, there is a plethora of fishable water here in the Valley right now besides the upper mile of the Pan!

This column is provided by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374.