On the fly: Let the hatching begin
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
BASALT – April brings many gifts to the fly fisher in this valley, the best of which are frenzied blue-winged olive and caddis hatches.
Other areas in Colorado boast of the best caddis hatches, but most of us realize this is simply not the case. If you’ve ever experienced one of our “blizzard” caddis hatches on the Colorado or Roaring Fork River, you know what I’m talking about. This is a true “breathe through your teeth” hatch, complete with bugs crawling up your nose and between your eyeballs and polarized lenses.
The best way to approach these fish is to try and stay above the main wave of hatching insects where the fish are turned on but you can still see your artificial fly amongst the plethora of naturals. Afternoons and early evenings also can be a magical time to fish, as adult female caddis come back to the water to lay their eggs on the water’s surface. Good patterns to carry are elk hair caddis, later skaters, pearl and elks, and the E/C caddis. Suggested caddis nymphs are the Z-wing in olive, Barr’s graphic caddis and the ever-popular beaded prince nymph.
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. After months of midges with little else, trout relish these larger insects and eat with reckless abandon during the month of April.
Blue-wing olives already are hatching in good numbers along the lower Roaring Fork, and your best bet to catch this hatch is in the afternoon. The hatch will work its way upvalley as the month progresses and continue up to the Fryingpan River, as well. Carry a few different patterns, and determine which fly the fish want on that particular day. I strongly suggest the perfect baetis, Collett’s BWO adult, parachute adams and Roy’s Fryingpan emerger in sizes 18 to 22.
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 and 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. Nymphing is productive before and after blue-wing olive emergences, and we use more gray nymphs on the Fork and Colorado, and black on the Fryingpan. The best nymph patterns for the Fryingpan are black poxyback Baetis and black RS2s, in addition to gray sparklewing RS2s and tungsten ready baetis for the Fork and Colorado.
These hatches are related directly 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.
“On the fly” is provided weekly by the staff members of Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt.
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