On the Fly: Seeing is believing | AspenTimes.com

On the Fly: Seeing is believing

Scott Spooner
On the Fly
A Colorado River rainbow trout

If we boil it down, there are two ways to approach fishing the rivers here in the valley.

The first approach is known as “fishing the water,” and the other style is called “sight-fishing.” Fishing the water simply means searching likely holding areas with the appropriate flies, assuming there are trout in those spots.

Sight-fishing is the art of seeing a particular fish and presenting your flies to it. For most of us, when we can, sight-fishing is particularly thrilling.

We don’t always have the opportunity to sight-fish, especially during non-hatch periods. This is the case most of the time right now, especially on the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers. The fish in these bigger rivers tend to pile up in the deep runs and pools over the winter, primarily because of oxygen content, food resources and to escape from predators such as eagles and blue herons. Hatches will draw these fish out, and they are going to start transitioning to pocket water and shallow riffles as hatches intensify in the coming weeks.

The key to sight-fishing with success depends on a few factors. Up first is a quality pair of polarized lenses, if not two pairs for different light conditions. Polarized glasses take away surface glare on the water and allow your eyes to pierce through this glare and down into the trout’s habitat. I never look for an entire fish; usually what alerts me to a fish is an outline, a fin, or even the shadow on the bottom of the river. Rising fish can be sighted as well, and if you pay attention, you will notice a feeding pattern that results in the fish breaching the surface every 10 or 20 seconds, for example. Simply count down and present that dry fly.

Sight-fishing is fun because we are choosing which fish to cast at, and yes, it is usually the biggest fish in the run. Sight-fishing also gives you specific information. Some fish simply aren’t eating at all, others are focused on emergers stuck beneath the surface film, eggs rolling along the bottom, or adults poised for takeoff.

What we choose to do with this information can make or break our day on the water.

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