On the Fly: Fishing action only gets better

Scott Spooner
On The Fly
Breathe-through-your-teeth caddis hatches are commonplace during spring.
Kirk Webb/Special to The Aspen Times |

April brings many gifts to the fly fisher in our valley, the best of which are frenzied blue-winged olive and caddis hatches. If you’ve ever experienced one of our “blizzard” caddis hatches on the Colorado or Roaring Fork rivers, you know what I’m talking about. This is certainly one of the few hatches where I tell people that if you’re squeamish about bugs, don’t go! The caddis will crawl in your nose, up your shorts, down your waders and into any other place you could possibly think of. I love it!

A word of advice: wear a face sunmask like a Buff to avoid caddis crawling in your mouth, nose and ears.

Our spring caddis hatch typically coincides with the front end of runoff, making this hatch often difficult to fish as water clarity becomes an issue. Thus, the smart angler will be on the water as much as possible until runoff forces you to go elsewhere in the coming weeks.

Don’t forget: When fish are focused on caddis, fish the fast water, and vice-versa with most mayflies like blue-wing olives.

Blue-wing olives, or baetis, are the most prolific mayfly in our valley even though they get second billing behind our world-famous green drake hatch. Blue-wing olives already are hatching in good numbers along the middle and lower Roaring Fork, with your best bet to catch this hatch taking place during afternoons. The hatch will work its way upvalley as the month progresses and will continue up to the Fryingpan River and upper sections of the Roaring Fork in the coming weeks (along with the caddis).

Baetis will be slightly larger on the Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers (size 18 to 20), and are smaller on the Fryingpan (size 20 to 22). Many of us fish a dry fly followed by an emerger or nymph, as many of the naturals simply cannot break through the surface tension of the river and get caught in or below the surface film.

These hatches are directly related to water and air temperatures, and with the warming trends we are looking forward to in April, the fishing action only gets better and better. As Lefty Kreh would say, “The fishing is so good, you’ll think that you were there yesterday.”

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