On the Fly: The most jaw-dropping hatch of the year

A Fryingpan River Green Drake mayfly.
Shannon Outing Photography/Courtesy photo

The Fryingpan River is one of the richest streams in the West, and her net worth is on display in full force right now.

Her wealth comes from incredibly diverse insect life, sky-high numbers of fish, and the beauty of the valley she calls home. The Pan’s chief asset, Green Drake mayflies, are now hatching prolifically. The cold, clean water, averaging 38-40 degrees year-round, allows the Drakes to slowly roll out over August and into September and October; last year, we enjoyed Green Drake hatches all the way into November!

It is a joy to see these corn-chip-sized bugs on the surface of the water and even more fun to watch the fish checking them out. Yesterday, I watched one fish follow a Drake dun thirty feet down the river only to refuse the natural bug — why, I could not tell you. Fryingpan trout are distrustful, especially on the front end of a new hatch. They will usually revert back to this lack of trust after being fooled throughout August and September by artificials and will require movement (twitches, hops, flops) of the fly by the angler to entice that surface take.

Whether it is the nymph, emerger, dun, cripple, or spinner, Green Drakes garner plenty of attention on the Fryingpan River. The nymphs gravitate towards gravelly-bottomed, slightly faster water, where you will often see them hatching. Most emergences occur mid-day, especially on the cloudier, warm days. If you are lucky enough to be on the Fryingpan on a rainy day, the duns aren’t able to dry their wings quick enough before “takeoff” and are picked off by opportunistic fish by the hundreds. Other times, Drakes escape from their shucks and fly off the surface fairly quickly, and we see fish swim five feet or more out of their way to inhale these tasty morsels.

Believe the hype; the time is now!