On the fly: Big fun on big water
June 22, 2011
BASALT – Learning how to persevere and catch fish under adverse conditions is what separates good anglers from bad anglers. I recently went on a 10-day fishing hiatus in the Florida Keys, where I was reminded of this simple little fact.
I knew the weather was going to take a turn for the worse with high winds, overcast skies and rain expected for the next five days. I was there to fish for tarpon, where ideally you want bright sun and light winds, which help you spot fish over the white-sand bottom. I never contemplated calling it quits and instead turned to other available fishing opportunities. We ended up fishing for snapper, barracuda and sharks. Though these aren’t considered game fish, it was fishing nonetheless, and we had a riot. This was undoubtedly the right call. Never in a million years would I allow less-than-ideal conditions to rob me of my precious fishing vacation time.
Working inside a fly shop during spring runoff, I am often reminded of how perseverance can pay off in spades. Fishing options are slim currently, with most waters being too high and muddy to fish. Even the Fryingpan River, which is controlled by Ruedi Reservoir, is running exceedingly high with water flows hovering around 800 cfs. What’s an angler to do? The answer is simple. Go fish!
During periods of high water, trout will seek refuge in any slow or “soft” pockets of water. The trout do not want to be out in the heavy current any more than you or I. Key attractor flies on the Fryingpan include mysis shrimp, San Juan worms and green drake nymphs. Smaller dropper patterns to trail below your attractor should consist of pheasant tails, RS2s, and biot baetis. With the higher water flows, don’t overthink your fly patterns too much.
Fishing below the dam is all about quality not quantity right now. These high flows offer anglers their best shot at hooking into a few of the large fish that the Fryingpan is famous for. Don’t give up but rather persevere and you could be rewarded with the largest trout of your life.