On the Fly: Don’t let May fishing fool you | AspenTimes.com

On the Fly: Don’t let May fishing fool you

Scott Spooner
On The Fly

Believe it or not, May is the second slowest month of the year in terms of fishing pressure. As hard as it to believe, there are more fishermen spread out along the river in December and January than there are in May. Don’t let this fact fool you, as the fishing is pretty incredible right now.

Rising rivers offer unique challenges to the angler as well as the trout, but you can take advantage of the conditions and turn them to your favor. Sure, there will be days you have to choose your battles out there, but these conditions can make the fish even more predictable when it comes to where they hang out and what they choose to eat. Just because the water is swift and becoming increasingly dirty doesn’t mean that the fish will be on hunger strike until July. The water visibility has been challenging early in the day but you can watch it dramatically clear as the day progresses.

When the water is fast and visibility becomes an issue, this pushes most fish right to the edges of the river. Now is the time to be casting into the spots you would normally be standing in. This is the time for heavier tippets and bigger, eye-catching attractor dry flies, nymphs and streamers, too. It’s all about the caddis and stoneflies right now, who usually take their cues to hatch from the ever-increasing volume of water and a brighter, hotter sun. Because of the raw numbers of caddis on and near the surface, sometimes you need to move upstream to a spot where the fish are turned on but the blanketing hatch hasn’t quite happened yet.

There is a reason our Mother’s Day hatch is renowned as well as downplayed by locals who want it all to themselves, and this is the time to get off your butt and stay out until dark. (You might as well train now for the twilight Roaring Fork green drakes soon to come!) You simply can’t dead drift this hatch with any real success. Pick those flies up, lay them down, skate, skitter and bump them to reassure the trout after getting their attention. Nymph with worms, stoneflies and your favorite caddis nymphs and pupa until the surface bite materializes. In other words: go fishing.

Having more than one rod rigged and ready to fish also will increase your catch rate. The fish can switch back and forth between subsurface and top-water feeding at a moment’s notice, and having one rod rigged with dries and another with nymphs (or streamers) will save you rigging time and make you a more effective angler.

Determining where the fish actually are in the river most of the year can be a challenge in itself, but during runoff, the predictability factor tilts in your favor. All the fish want is to relax in softer water while being on the edges of the current, which enables them to lean out or come up to snatch a tasty morsel once in a while before it whizzes by. Just give them what they want, where they want it, and you will reap the benefits through high water season.

“On the Fly” is provided weekly by the staff at Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt.