On The Fly: Our collective dependence on water

Scott Spooner
On The Fly

It seems like everyone has nervously been awaiting the snow machine to turn on around here. Powder hounds and anglers alike can take a deep breath now after the nice drop of snow we received this week. We all know how it’s all about the water here in the valley, whether in liquid or solid, most of us depend on water for our livelihoods on the slopes, farms and rivers. Last year, we landed well above average for snowpack — we can only hope for another epic snow year this time around.

Fishing around the Valley always seems to improve after a big snow. Cloudy skies, insulating temperatures and a lack of angler pressure are usually the right combination for hungry fish. On the warmest days after a big snow, we can anticipate an increase in flows due to melt, which usually helps kick a few bugs loose from the river bottom. Who says you can only fish stoneflies and San Juan worms during summer?

Some of the most prolific midge hatches I’ve ever experienced have been during weeks like these. These little reliables hatch every day of the year, usually overlooked by trout and angler alike during our larger mayfly, caddis and stonefly hatches during warmer months. In winter, these little bugs are almost the only game in town. Snow-covered river edges take most of the guess work out of the fishing equation, as these gray to black bugs stand out quite obviously against the white background crawling around after emergence.

Is midging easy? Hell no. But that is part of the attraction for seasoned winter fly fishers. I usually find that the more comfortable I am, the better winter fisherman I become. That means plenty of hand warmers, extra pairs of dry gloves, a hot thermos of soup or coffee and the realization you don’t have to fish for ten hours straight in the winter. Eleven to three is when I like to be out because it’s during the warmest part of the day. Stay warm and safe on the river, and we hope everyone has a terrific New Year.

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