On the Fly: An embarrassment of vibrant rivers
August 25, 2017
Ask anyone who float-fishes around the Rocky Mountain West, and they will invariably comment on how healthy our rivers are in the Roaring Fork Valley.
The Roaring Fork boasts incredible fish counts, diverse insect life and tons of birds that now make the river their home. On any given day you can find osprey, bald eagles, ducks, geese, herons and American dippers dining on the riches of our local waters. Diverse insect hatches — varying from caddis, yellow sallies, all sorts of mayflies, stoneflies and everything else you can think of — are happening daily, and as most of you know, these rivers are lousy with fish.
This especially applies to the Colorado River; compared with even 10 years ago, this river has rebounded in health exponentially. Taking a client on a float trip on the Colorado River (around Glenwood and west) back in the day wasn't even a consideration, but this river is now much, much healthier. Heavy hatches and 30-plus fish days are now the norm, and many people prefer the lighter boat traffic and hardest fighting fish that the Colorado has to offer versus other floatable rivers in the state.
Contributing factors to the rebounding water health are many. Great organizations like the Roaring Fork Conservancy are spreading awareness and making a big difference, constantly testing water quality and teaching local youth about the interconnectedness of our streams and lakes. The Roaring Fork Fishing Guide Alliance members and plenty of other anglers and guides make a daily difference, whether it is by handling fish rarely, reviving fish properly, leaving no trace or trash behind, and so on. Barbless flies, an ingrained catch and release ethic, cleaner vehicle emissions, the end of salt as a de-icer and better-constructed drainage on our highway systems has had a positive effect on the Colorado's health, too.
The next time you're on a local river, take a minute to soak in your surroundings. We doubt you'll find a prettier or healthier stream than what we have right here in our backyard!
This column is provided by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374.