On the fly: The hatch is on | AspenTimes.com
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On the fly: The hatch is on

Scott Spooner
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
Brandon SoucieGary Yargara lands a nice rainbow on the Colorado River, caught on a blue-wing olive emerger.
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BASALT – Just in case you haven’t heard, there are some truly prolific blue-wing olive emergences coming off daily up and down the valley. Blue-wing olives, or baetis, are typically on the menu early and late in the year, from late March until mid-May, and then come back during late summer and early fall. They are typically our first and last major hatches of the year, and this year is no exception.

The heaviest of these hatches will be found right now in and around Glenwood Springs on the Colorado River, and on the lower Roaring Fork from Carbondale down to Glenwood Springs. We are seeing baetis hatch all the way up to Basalt on the Roaring Fork, also, but slightly less in numbers.

The best way to attack this hatch is nymphing before and after you start noticing adults buzzing about. Baetis nymphs are on the small side and are often pretty dark in color. They often are fished best behind a San Juan worm, stonefly or caddis nymph at this time of year. Swinging soft-hackle versions of these nymphs can be absolutely deadly, as well. Be sure to thoroughly fish each pool, riffle or run before moving on to the next, and play around with depth and weight until you find yourself getting in the strike zone.



Once it seems as if every fish in the river is rising actively to an adult, it’s time to switch to a double-dry setup or a dry-dropper rig. I personally like to fish flies that I actually have a chance of seeing on the water surface, especially parachute styles, and anything high-vis works best for me. Keep a distance of 24 or so inches between your two dries, and be sure to treat them with your favorite floatant and desiccant to keep them riding high on the water. Fishing a size 18 and a size 20 will help you dial in the fly they want, and then switch to two 20s or two 18s once you are in the know.

When fishing a dry-dropper setup, use an emerger, nymph or soft-hackle baetis under your dry fly. An emerger just below the surface film behind your dry fly can be particularly deadly on those days you are seeing only backs of fish versus noses poking through. The best way to achieve this is by greasing the tippet leading to the emerger with floatant, up to a few inches from the fly, allowing it to barely sink below the surface.




This is some of the first and best dry-fly-fishing of the year for us in the Roaring Fork Valley, and I highly suggest that you get out there and take advantage of these big bugs and ravenous trout!

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


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