On the Fly: August is prime time
On the Fly
Late July and August in the Roaring Fork Valley conjures 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 on the Colorado and Crystal rivers. August also is the perfect time to explore our plethora of high country lakes, small spring creeks and feeder streams up and down the valley.
If you are after huge dry-fly fishing and a river full of risers, the “Ph. D.” Fryingpan trout lose all inhibitions in August. Green drakes are going strong by late summer, and our trout consume so many of these morsels that their bellies hang like beer guts. These bugs hatch during gentlemen’s hours, usually noon until 3 or 4 p.m. With this world-famous hatch come the crowds, although along the 14 miles of tailwater between Ruedi Reservoir and the confluence with the Roaring Fork offers plenty of public water to explore. Bring the size-10 and -12 drake patterns, some PMDs, Rusty Spinners, small BWOs and, of course, mysis shrimp.
The Roaring Fork offers more than 70 miles of freestone delights, PMDs and caddis are the main entree, with drakes, stoneflies, PMDs, BWOs and some amazing streamer fishing to be found as well. 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. By the time you get to the lower river (near Glenwood Springs) the volume has nearly quadrupled and this water is best approached from a drift boat. Rocky Mountain whitefish abound in addition to the usual trout suspects.
The Crystal River flows down through Carbondale and merges with the Roaring Fork; the best angling opportunities exist from the confluence up through Redstone. No need to over think this river — attractor dries, woolly buggers and beaded nymphs like Copper Johns and STDs are all you need to carry to catch a few fish. The Crystal sees very little of the “two-legged hatch” that the other rivers in the area experience, so head up this gorgeous little freestone if you don’t want to see another angler all day. If you love to catch big whitefish, check out the “Staircase” in Carbondale.
Most of our guide staff fishes the big and mighty water of the Colorado on days off in August, always from a McKenzie-style drift boat. This water teems with caddis, yellow sallies and PMDs in late summer and hosts the best streamer fishing around. Float trips are best launched from Two Rivers, Dinosaur, New Castle and even as “low” as Silt. We get on and off this river early in August as the water gets dangerously warm by 6 p.m. and trout revival can get worrisome after a hard battle. The Colorado hosts all species of trout, whitefish and other exotica — even bass — are caught on floats from Silt to Rifle.
The high-country scene in this part of the world is simply 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. If you want to sample some private high country ponds, check out the Bar ZX ranch outside Paonia. A guide is required for this amazing trout ranch. You just can’t go wrong in the Roaring Fork Valley in August.
“On the Fly” is provided weekly by the staff at Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt.
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Lift-Up has helped feed hungry families in the Roaring Fork Valley for 38 years, but experienced in a surge in demand this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is making changes to meet the demand and address allegations of incidents of discrimination.