On the Fly: Autumn splendor is on our doorstep

Will Sands
On the Fly
Katie Milantoni shows off a brown trout she caught on the Roaring Fork River last week.

The subtle change of the season is upon us. Days are seemingly cooling down, leaves are turning a bit, it’s getting dark earlier and fall seems to be right around the corner.

Fall equates to some rewarding fishing for locals, as well as the noticeably fewer visiting anglers. Although we will still be seeing the continuation of great pale morning duns (PMDs) and green drakes on the Fryingpan for a while longer, hatches and tactics will begin to slowly change throughout September.

Dry-fly fishing has been very good lately on the Fryingpan. Green drakes and pale morning duns have still been out in great force, but blue wing olives (BWOs) are reappearing throughout the Fryingpan. Fish often focus on these smallish mayflies as they can greatly outnumber the PMDs and drakes. This can confuse anglers who are seeing multitudes of rising fish during a drake or PMD hatch, but don’t take notice of the smaller BWOs on the water.

A good practice to take advantage of during these scenarios is to fish the larger PMD or drake pattern as your point fly, and use a BWO as your trailing fly. This combination assists in covering two of your three possible food sources and the larger point fly can be utilized as a strike indicator for that tiny blue winged olive dropper.

There is less dry-fly fishing to be had on the Roaring Fork, but the nymph and streamer action has been very consistent! Besides the increased BWO activity on the Fork, the streamer fishing has been heating up. Many anglers relish the opportunity to throw large wooly buggers and sculpin imitations hoping to entice aggressive fall fish. If you have never explored the world of streamer fishing, this is the time to branch out and give it a go. Oftentimes these big, nasty flies will account for some of the largest fish of the season!

Don’t overlook the Colorado River, either. After a few weeks of highly discolored water, the Colorado is back to being in good fishable shape. Like the Roaring Fork, anglers can expect good nymph and streamer fishing with minimal dry-fly opportunities. Higher visibility fly patterns like San Juan Worms, Rubberleg Stones and bead head attractor nymphs are best. The float fishing is certainly best with more limited access for wading anglers. If you want a shot at a big fish, this is the current hot spot.

This column is provided by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374.