On the Fly: An embarrassment of riches | AspenTimes.com

On the Fly: An embarrassment of riches

Scott Spooner
On the Fly

A delighted Sharon Braggs holds a Fryingpan brown trout.
Beck Brooks.

Late July and August in the Roaring Fork Valley conjure up images of juicy size 10 and 12 green drakes on the Fryingpan, blanket PMD hatches on the Roaring Fork and prolific swarms of caddis almost everywhere. August is also the perfect time to explore our plethora of high country lakes, small spring creeks and feeder streams up and down the valley. Despite the warm water challenges downstream this year, the upper valley will fish well all summer long.

If you are after dry-fly fishing and a river full of risers, the Ph.D. Fryingpan trout lose all inhibitions in late summer. Green drakes are going strong, and our trout consume so many of these morsels that their bellies hang like beer guts. These bugs hatch during bankers’ hours, usually from noon until 3 or 4 p.m.

The Roaring Fork offers up over 70 miles of freestone delights. PMDs and caddis are the main entrée, with drakes, stoneflies and yellow sallies in the mix also. The upper Fork (near Aspen) is steep gradient pocket water full of rainbows, cutthroats and browns. The middle river (near Basalt) is bigger water and holds more browns than rainbows. Most anglers are giving the lower river a break this year, until we cool off a bit.

Rocky Mountain whitefish abound below Basalt in addition to the usual trout suspects. The Crystal River (which is loaded with whitefish) flows down through Carbondale and merges with the Roaring Fork — the best angling opportunities exist above Redstone. No need to overthink this river; attractor dries, woolly buggers and beaded nymphs like Copper Johns and jigged TNT nymphs are all you need to carry to catch a few fish.

Lastly, the high country scene in this valley is breathtaking. The Fryingpan above Ruedi is excellent dry-dropper water, as well as Rocky Fork Creek, which spills into the Fryingpan behind the tailwater. For the high country still-water aficionados, check out American and Cathedral lakes, which are loaded with cutthroat trout. As the fly-fishing-movie-star Frank Smethurst once said, this valley is “an embarrassment of riches.” I couldn’t agree more.

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 TaylorCreek.com.