On the Fly: The crowd factor

Scott Spooner
On the Fly
Anglers wading a local river work to make sure their lines don’t cross.
Scott Spooner photo

After runoff subsides, we start seeing more people on our rivers, streams and lakes. Crowds are the bane of many anglers, but luckily there are some tricks for those seeking solitude on the water.

Firstly, there is a reason we see so many people plying the water here in the summertime — excellent hatches and eager fish. As many of you know, you don’t need a mile to yourself on the Fryingpan to effectively fish the green drake and pale morning dun hatches. Fish on the Fryingpan are selective but not spooky, as we have all had beautiful trout sharking around our feet from time to time up there. Try fishing late — you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find hardly anyone around late into the afternoon!

We notice miles of open water but crowds near the parking areas, so if you’re willing to walk, there is much more available water. This especially applies to the upper Roaring Fork and Fryingpan rivers. Challenge yourself to fish an entire mile of river — you’ll catch more fish, enjoy some periodic solitude, and probably come across different hatches in different water types (pools, runs, riffles). Fishing upstream will keep you in the rear-view mirror of the trout, and steering them away and downstream after hooking them will keep the other fish in that section calm and ready for your next cast.

There are always fewer people fishing the multitude of high country streams and lakes versus the famous Fryingpan and Roaring Fork in the summer, and fly selection is pretty straightforward the higher up you go. Anyone willing to walk and work for it will reap rewards that the park-and-fish crowd won’t. Fishing the Crystal and Colorado rivers is another alternative, as you’ll see far fewer people on these waters. The Colorado is a big river, but if you’re willing to rock-hop and move around, pleasant surprises await you.

We hope you find your own little slice of heaven out there this summer, and also urge you to take advantage of the lack of crowds right now. Whether you’re hiking up to Cathedral, floating the Fork, or seeking out the green drake hatch on the Fryingpan this year, have fun, be safe, and find solitude where you can!

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