On the Fly: The writing is on the wall | AspenTimes.com

On the Fly: The writing is on the wall

Scott Spooner and Justin Moore
On the Fly
Guide Shannon Outing and client Crystal Sullivan enjoy some action on the Fryingpan River.

Jimmy D. Moore said it best: “Being able to read trout streams is just as valuable to a fly fisherman as the ability to read a defense is to a quarterback.”

As our rivers continue to clear and drop to winter levels, our ability to read the water, skip the barren zones and focus on where the fish (and more important, the insects) are now becomes vitally important.

Trout are beginning to transition from being spread out in the river to zones with more oxygen, meaning deeper pools with faster and hyper-oxygenated water feeding them. As you may have noticed, some of your favorite pockets and riffles have disappeared with the drop in flows. Not to worry — conditions this time of year can take the mystery out of where the fish will likely hold.

Reading the water also involves anticipating the usual hatches but also being ready to think outside the box. Those who have been enjoying the “summer” pale morning dun and caddis hatches up the Fryingpan River this week know what we are talking about here. There is still a little time left to tempt the trout with their favorite summer fare, but that window is closing fast. Soon the menu will be only midges, but keep carrying all of your fly boxes a bit longer out there.

Hatches are more sporadic than consistent now, and reading the takes will help decipher what fly to tie on when out on the water. If you are seeing heads piercing the surface taking delicate sips, most likely they are focusing on small mayfly or midge adults. Seeing backs and tails indicate they are focusing on emerges just beneath the surface.

If you are fluent in troutspeak, the writing is on the wall. Read the water, it will tell you today’s story if you pay attention.

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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“Without any exception the worst snow storm known since the advent of the railroad west of Leadville has been raging over the crest of the continental divide since last Thursday,” asserted the Aspen Tribune on January 31, 1899.

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