On the Fly: Spring cleaning is here as runoffs begin to reach local rivers | AspenTimes.com

On the Fly: Spring cleaning is here as runoffs begin to reach local rivers

Scott Spooner
On the Fly
Katie Hopkins with a Roaring Fork River brown trout
Scott Spooner/Courtesy photo

As we start to see runoff conditions here in the Roaring Fork Valley, it is time to change our fishing game up with adjustments to ensure success. 

True runoff will not be here for another week or two, but if you’ve been out there fishing the BWOs on the Fryingpan or the caddis hatch on the Roaring Fork, you’ve already seen your share of rising water levels out there. Caddis love hot and bright sun, which, in turn, spurs runoff snowmelts — BWO mayflies seem happiest on a cloudy day. Runoff is our local version of spring cleaning!

The main thing to remember as the freestone (undammed) rivers begin to swell is that the fish will be on the edges, not in the center where currents run swiftly. In other words, the fish are most likely posted up right where you would usually stand while fishing, where the current is the softest. This is the time of year that larger and gaudier flies are key: San Juan worms, Crane fly nymphs, golden stonefly nymphs — anything that will grab the attention of a hungry fish in less-than-ideal water conditions. 

As most of you know, as we ease in to runoff, we can search out cleaner water in higher elevations. Oftentimes, the upper reaches of the Roaring Fork, Crystal, and Fryingpan rivers will be much cleaner than in lower and hotter elevations. Runoff is a great time to explore some of the higher lakes that are slowly deicing, as well, as the warm water lakes that are already fishing very well.

Many anglers spend their travel dollars during May and June and head out for tarpon, permit, and bonefish in the Florida Keys, Cuba, the Bahamas, and the like. Tarpon migrations are best right now through late May and some years well into July.  Last week, we had a group in Espiritu Santo Bay, Mexico doing exactly that. The moral of the story here is to fish hard through runoff, the fish still eat every day, and it shouldn’t take long to figure out where they’re hanging out during “big water.”

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or TaylorCreek.com.