On the fly: So many choices | AspenTimes.com

On the fly: So many choices

Kirk Webb
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Kirk WebbA Colorado River cutthroat trout caught in the high country above the Fryingpan River earlier this week.

BASALT – It’s that magical time of year again where the fishing shifts into overdrive. One of the biggest problems that I frequently have at this time of year is simply deciding where to go and what to do. There are so many options and such varied hatches and water types that making a decision as simple as to where to go fishing can baffle a newcomer.

What follows is a short list of some of my favorite destinations within our valley to have the fishing experience of a lifetime.

The Fryingpan River near Basalt is one of the most famous tailwaters in the West. July yields the first significant large mayfly hatches including green drakes and pale morning duns. Afternoons and evenings give way to the best fishing. If sight fishing to large, educated trout sounds like fun, the Fryingpan is your spot. Keep in mind that light tippets of 6x and 7x are considered mandatory for these wise fish.

The Roaring Fork River is the current hot spot for dry-fly anglers. From Aspen downstream to Basalt, nightly hatches of green drakes and caddis are creating virtual fishing frenzies. The hardest problem for anglers up here is deciding where to cast as fish are literally boiling in all directions both upstream and down, to your left and to your right. Float fishing trips below Carbondale are also giving up exceptional dry-fly fishing. Caddis, PMDs and terrestrial patterns are best. Between hatches, nymph the dark and deep water with size 14 to size 18 PMD, caddis and stonefly imitations.

Don’t overlook the magnificent fishing in the high country. With the low water levels in our rivers, the high country fishing is dynamite. Some of my favorite stillwater destinations include Cathedral Lake near Ashcroft, and Pierre and Maroon Lake near Snowmass. Small midge and damsel dry patterns are needed as well as scuds, buggers and generic beadhead nymphs. In my opinion, the only thing that trumps the scenery of the high country is the fish themselves. Colorado River cutthroat and brook trout are both vibrant in color and energy.

Small creeks such as Avalanche Creek near Redstone and Lincoln Creek above Aspen fish extremely well throughout the month of July. If it’s solitude that you’re looking for, these fisheries will practically guarantee to you just that. Big fish are few and far between, but small fish are common in every pocket and plunge pool. Get out there this July and beat the heat by standing in a cool river, lake or creek.