On the fly: Don’t fear the not clear | AspenTimes.com

On the fly: Don’t fear the not clear

Will Sands
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT – As we move into spring, the most significant change we will begin to see is the changing of water clarity, especially on the Roaring Fork.

While water clarity certainly affects fishing conditions, it sometimes is to the angler’s advantage. While we are blessed with our local rivers running practically gin clear most of the year, the first signs of discolored water often scare anglers from getting out to wet a line. However, as our local water conditions change from clear to slightly off-color, this change can make for exceptional fishing with some slight adjustments.

The first adjustment anglers need to make when they approach off-color water is to distinguish between just off-color versus truly blown out and unfishable. A general rule of thumb is green in good, brown is bad. This guide metaphor simply means if the river has taken on a green color, that it is more than fishable, but if it is chocolate brown, then it’s probably time to head elsewhere.

But before you perceive the river as blown out, determine if there is any visibility at all. This can quite simply be determined by wading out into a foot to two feet of water and looking down at your boots. If you can see down a foot, it is fishable. If you can see your boots in two feet of water, it is more than fishable. Also take note that the clearest water is along the bank and fish will move tighter to the bank.

The next step to taking on off-color water is increasing the size and brightness of your flies. Larger flies and brighter flies will be noticed more readily. Generally speaking, fly patterns such as San Juan worms, Pat’s rubber legs, red copper Johns, large prince nymphs and large stonefly patterns will produce well.

So, remember: just because things are changing a bit does not mean it’s time to give up. Plus, the Fryingpan will always run clear from the base of the dam downstream when everything else in the valley gets too muddy.

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