On the fly: Midge madness | AspenTimes.com

On the fly: Midge madness

Kirk Webb
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
John HansenConnie Britt shows off a Fryingpan River rainbow trout, caught on a medallion midge.

BASALT – As we quickly approach March, several exciting changes take place along the rivers of the Roaring Fork Valley.

Forget about basketball and March Madness – this is the time of year when anglers return to fishing the Gold Medal waters of the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork rivers. Longer and warmer days are here, and with that comes the most overlooked hatch of the entire year: midges. What these minute insects lack in size, they make up for in sheer numbers. During afternoons and early evenings, these diminutive insects hatch in such massive numbers that they often ball or cluster up in soft (slow) pieces of water where they become easy meals for trout hungry after a long and cold winter.

Early in the morning, you’ll want to focus on fishing various midge larva patterns such as TC red midges, bling midges, medallion midges and tungsten hoovers in shades of red, black and gray. These flies should be fished in the deeper seams and pools with plenty of split shot to drive them near the river bottom.

As the day wears on and the air and water temperatures rise, look for the trout to slowly transition to the shallower riffles where the midges prefer to hatch. Pupa and emerger patterns now become effective. Medallion midges, biot midges and RS-2s all are superb fly patterns to match this stage of the midges life cycle. During this time, the fish feed aggressively and the possibility of catching numbers of fish increases. Keep a sharp eye, and look for signs of fish activity such as flashes, boils and rises.

Anglers will relish in the late afternoon and early evening hours as the sheer numbers of midge adults on the waters surface promotes some exciting and overlooked dry-fly fishing opportunities. If you’ve yet to try fly-fishing during this time of year, hiring an experienced local guide will benefit you greatly. The lower Roaring Fork River below Carbondale, the Fryingpan River above Basalt, as well as the Colorado River below Glenwood Springs all will be superb places to encounter this hatch of epic proportions. Tandem dry-fly setups utilizing a high visibility cluster midge such as a Hi-Viz Griffiths gnat trailed by a surface midge emerger pattern like a Bills midge emerger, Morgans parachute midge or Fryingpan emerger in sizes 18 to 22 will suffice.

Midge madness is here – don’t miss out!

On the fly is provided weekly by the staff members of Taylor Creek Flyshop in Basalt.

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