On the Fly: Runoff arrives and the Mother’s Day hatch might keep you out late

Scott Spooner
On the Fly
Angler Jack Reis and a surprised brown trout caught from the Fryingpan River.
Scott Spooner/Special to The Aspen Times

Rising rivers offer unique challenges to the angler, as well as the trout, but you can take advantage of the conditions and turn them to your favor.

Sure, there will be days when you have to choose your battles out there, but these conditions can make the fish even more predictable when it comes to where they hang out and what they choose to eat. Just because the water is swift and becoming increasingly dirty doesn’t mean the fish will be on hunger strike until July. The water visibility has been challenging early in the day, but you can watch it dramatically clear as the day progresses.

There is a reason our Mother’s Day hatch is renowned, as well as downplayed, by locals who want it all to themselves, and this is the time to get off your butt and stay out until dark. (You might as well train now for the twilight Roaring Fork green drakes soon to come!) You simply can’t dead drift this hatch with any real success. Pick those flies up, lay them down, skate, skitter and bump them to reassure the trout after getting their attention. Nymph with worms, stoneflies and your favorite caddis nymphs and pupa until the surface bite materializes.

Having more than one rod rigged and ready to fish will increase your catch rate, also. The fish can switch back and forth between subsurface and top water feeding at a moment’s notice, and having one rod rigged with dries and another with nymphs (or streamers) will save you rigging time and make you a more effective angler. Keep in mind with the low angling pressure in May, you see more people fishing here in December and January than right now, which also can play to your advantage.

Determining where the fish actually are in the river most of the year can be a challenge in itself, but during runoff the predictability factor tilts in your favor. Fish want to relax in softer water while being on the edges of the current, which enables them to lean out or come up to snatch a tasty morsel once in a while before it whizzes by. Just give them what they want, where they want it, and you will reap the benefits through high-water season.

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