On the Fly: Aspen-area rivers, lakes fishing well heading into holiday weekend

Scott Spooner
On the Fly
Multiple brown trout caught on the Roaring Fork River on a recent afternoon.
Kyle Holt / Courtesy photo

Plenty of fishing opportunities await anglers in the Roaring Fork Valley this week, whether you like to wade the Fryingpan, float the Roaring Fork, or enjoy hiking up to an alpine lake.

The Fryingpan River has been low and clear so far this summer, and we are seeing golden stoneflies and caddis hatch in the lower sections plus midges and pale morning duns up higher. Guides have seen a few random green drakes this week, but we won’t see real numbers of these giant bugs until late July into early August.

The Roaring Fork River has had excellent hatches after runoff, with green drakes now hatching heavily in the zone between Carbondale and Basalt midday and again at twilight. The upper river near Aspen has plenty of yellow sallies, caddis and golden stoneflies, and as you meander down valley the pale morning duns are hatching well, too.

The Crystal River is in perfect shape now, and you’ll see a few salmonflies around Redstone with good amounts of caddis and pale morning duns as well. The Crystal is your answer to crowded-river blues; the higher you climb in elevation the fewer people you will encounter.

The mighty Colorado River is fishing well too, with heaps of Rusty Spinners and caddis keeping anglers and fish entertained out there.

Most of the high country is now on the menu, so if hiking up to Cathedral, Lost Man, Fryingpan Lakes or Savage Lakes is your thing, the time is now. Taking along a few leech patterns plus damsels and flying ants should suffice to fool these wary high-elevation fish.

No matter where or how you like to fish, this is the time. Be safe, have fun and keep an open mind for those lessons the fish can teach us.

Editor’s note: After a few weeks off because of the pandemic, the “On the Fly” weekly fishing feature returns. It appears every Saturday in The Aspen Times and updated weekly at This column is provided by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374.