On the Fly: Finicky fall | AspenTimes.com

On the Fly: Finicky fall

Scott Spooner
On the Fly
An angler with a Fryingpan River rainbow trout.
Courtesy of Christian Hill

The first day of fall is still a few weeks away, but we’re all seeing some leaves begin to turn and donning our jackets again after sunset.

As the days begin to get shorter and cooler, we will begin to notice some not-so-subtle changes while out on the water. The first change of note is the resurgence of some aquatic insects and the dissipation of others. Blue winged olives (BWOs) are already on the scene again, as we typically see them in strong numbers in spring and fall. These small mayflies vary from size 18 down to 22 in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Flies that are starting to become more scarce on the freestone rivers are yellow sallies (small yellow stoneflies), large golden stoneflies, pale morning duns (PMDs) and green drakes. You’ll still see a few here and there, but the fish will becoming more focused on BWOs, midges, caddis flies and streamer patterns that imitate smaller fish. If you are fortunate enough to float fish from now through November, the streamer fishing will steadily improve every week. Caddis action will last a while longer; you’ll see plenty on the bright and sunny days.

The exception to these changes (for a while longer) will be found on the renowned Fryingpan River, where we all get to enjoy “summer” hatches until late October and usually early November. Due to the steadiness of the flows and water temperatures, higher dissolved oxygen content and perfect pH result in long-lasting hatches here. Continued reliable hatches of PMDs, BWOs and green drakes will keep us busy on the Fryingpan tailwater until the flakes begin to fly.

As the crowds begin to taper off, get out there and enjoy a bit of solitude where you can find it, restock those fly boxes with some lilliputian patterns, and start thinking outside the box as the fish begin to look for smaller food sources. Before you know it, the only thing we’ll see hatching is tiny midges, so enjoy those “large fly” hatches while you can!

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


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