On the Fly: The mother of all hatches

Scott Spooner
On the Fly
Fryingpan River green drake adult mayfly.
courtesy photo

The green drake mayfly hatch is one of many reasons Basalt and the Roaring Fork Valley is considered Mecca for fly fishers around the world. We (and the fish) enjoy this hatch from late runoff on our freestone rivers until fall on the Fryingpan tail water. Mayflies vary in size around here, from small size 22 blue winged olives to medium size 16 pale morning duns and red quills, to the big size 10 and 12 brutes we know as green drakes.

The drakes on the Colorado and Roaring Fork Rivers hatch primarily at twilight as runoff ebbs, but we see plenty of them midday during low water years like this one. As of now, the drakes are all the way up the Roaring Fork in Aspen. Favorite fly patterns for this hatch are White Wulffs, H and L Variants and Royal Wulffs in sizes 10 and 12.

The drake hatch on the Fryingpan is in the early stages, but guides are certainly seeing a few dozen every day while astream. Fryingpan drakes hatch reliably midday, usually between noon and 4 p.m. These big bugs hatch primarily out of the center line of the river (where the water is a little faster). Anglers will have better success right now fishing that fly in rougher water, where the trout have less time to inspect their offering.

Popular patterns for Fryingpan green drakes are Renee Harrop’s CDC Green Drake Cripple and CDC Thorax, in addition to Jeremy Stott’s KGB (Killer Green Bug), Taylor Creek Sparkledun Green Drake, and the BDE (Best Dry Ever) in sizes 10 to 12. What I love about this hatch on the Fryingpan is that it usually lasts until Halloween. If you find summer crowds irksome on the Fryingpan, remember you can fish this exciting hatch well after the bustling summer tourism season has passed. Enjoy the world-famous hatch and I’ll see you on the river!

This column is provided by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374.