On the fly: Midges and pike | AspenTimes.com

On the fly: Midges and pike

Kirk Webb
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
Kirk WebbA northern pike caught early this week at Rifle Gap Reservoir.

BASALT – With the return of spring and daylight saving time, the trout fishing throughout the valley has been very good overall.

The Fryingpan is seeing daily hatches of midges and blue-wing olive mayflies from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dry-fly anglers should focus on the middle stretches of the river from mile markers 8 through 12. The keys to success when dry-fly fishing the Fryingpan are to fish tandem dry-fly rigs and to use 7x fluorocarbon tippet.

We employ a highly visible midge dry fly such as a Morgan’s midge parachute or hatching midge in sizes 20 through 22. This fly acts as a visual reference or indicator, allowing the use of a less visible, more exact imitation such as a Bill’s midge emerger in a size 22. The best midge dry patterns for the Fryingpan always have a trailing shuck, which imitates the nymphal exoskeleton as the newly winged adult begins to hatch. This transformation is when the midges are most vulnerable to the trout.

The Roaring Fork has been fishing better and better each and every day. In particular, the upper river near Aspen and Jaffe Park has finally started to fish well. Look for the majority of the fish to still be concentrated in the deeper pools and seams. During overcast periods, sporadic numbers of rising fish can be found, as well.

As on the Fryingpan, keep your flies small and dark. Gray and black are the dominate midge color schemes that are effective. In general, I’ve found that gray lends itself better to low-light conditions with black being more effective under bright light. Below the confluence of the Crystal River, the Roaring Fork has been seeing varying water conditions. Keep in mind the adage of “green is good, and brown puts them down.” Stoneflies, caddis larvae and midge emerger patterns will keep your line bent.

Additional warm-water opportunities are opening up weekly. Rifle Gap and Harvey Gap near Rifle have broken free of ice. The major draw for fly anglers at this time of year is the “water wolf” – the northern pike on these two reservoirs. Large pike have begun scouring the shallows already in efforts to spawn and feed after a long winter under the gridlock of ice. Large flies, 7- to 8-weight rods and the chance of catching a fish of more than 40 inches are a true reality. Don’t expect to catch numbers of fish, though, as I caught two nice pike over the course of two long and hard days on the water.

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