On the Fly: Finding fishing as the rivers roar

Scott Spooner
On the Fly
The Roaring Fork River in historic old town Basalt.
Courtesy of Scott Spooner

Locals are scratching their heads this week looking at river levels, especially since we are nearly a month behind “schedule.”

For those of us in the business side of fly-fishing, having huge flows on the Fryingpan this holiday week (the official start of summer) isn’t ideal, but we are thankful for all of this water versus dealing with a major fire and drought like last summer. The Fryingpan River is usually our go-to during runoff, but even this river has been challenging as of late.

Ruedi Reservoir should be full in the coming days, so we might see even bigger releases on the Fryingpan tail water if the inflow remains high. The Roaring Fork, Crystal and Colorado rivers haven’t peaked yet (we think), so we urge caution around all rivers as they are higher than we’ve seen in recent memory. Every guide with the proper permits is battling for a spot on the upper Pan this week, but there is light at the end of the runoff tunnel.

Our staff is very excited for the bountiful summer (and especially fall) we have on deck; this will be one of the best fishing seasons we’ve seen in years! Drought-induced river closures like we had last summer are definitely in the rearview now, and the hatches after runoff will be nothing short of spectacular. Insect hatches are already “late” on the Fork and Colorado, so they should be even thicker than usual.

Anglers itching to fish should keep lakes and ponds in mind for the next week or two; reports are that almost everything below 11,500 is open and fishable. Thomas, Nast and Chapman lakes are just a few examples of terrific ponds to explore with your fly rod. Damselflies, ants, scuds and leeches are just about all you need fly-wise on local still waters.

Please keep safe out there, have fun and keep an eye on each other as we look for runoff to subside in the coming weeks.

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