On the fly: What a difference | AspenTimes.com
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On the fly: What a difference

Kirk Webb
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Kirk WebbMadison Webb, the writer's daughter, with a colorful rainbow trout, caught Easter Sunday on the Fryingpan River, east of Basalt.
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BASALT – What a difference a year can make. Last year at this time we still had huge amounts of snow in the high country followed by one of largest runoffs on record. Fishing was challenging to say the least. Even the normally tame waters of the Fryingpan River were in excess of 800 cubic feet per second. Flows on the Roaring Fork River were so high and discolored that fly fishing outfitters and guide services were not able to do a commercial float trip until the middle of July.

Fast forward to the present and you’ll find below-average snowpack and low water flows. Currently the Fryingpan River is flowing around 60 cfs and the Roaring Fork River is still clear and running at lower-than-normal flows. So what does all of this mean for fly anglers?

Undoubtedly it means that we’re going to see some of the best early season fishing conditions that we’ve had in quite some time. Generally speaking, our spring brachycentrus caddis hatch is very hit and miss. During a normal water year, the caddis hatch in massive numbers from the last week of April through the middle of May but fishing is often limited as this hatch typically coincides with the beginning of runoff.



Needless to say, we’re expecting to see one of best caddis hatches this spring under low and clear water conditions. This should also make for epic stonefly and green drake hatches on the Roaring Fork as these two hatches also fall earlier in the year.

Recently, anglers of all abilities have been ranting and raving about the superb fishing now taking place. Superb hatches of blue-wing olives and midges have made literal fishing frenzies as of late. It will certainly be an earlier season this year with some of the best fishing occurring now through the middle of July. I’m certainly excited to have some really, really good dry-fly fishing this spring and am looking forward to the killer fishing.



The dry-fly fishing on both rivers has been solid from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. With the low and clear water, utilizing 7x tippet on the Fryingpan is paramount to success, while on the Roaring Fork, 5x and 6x tippets are fine. Keep a good supply of BWOs, midges, egg patterns and caddis with you for the next few weeks and I can promise you that you’ll keep your rod bent.


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