On the Fly: Worth the wade
It’s 11 in the evening, and I’m dead tired. I’ve been settling into my summer routine, which consists of working the fly shop from 7:30 in the morning until 6:30 in the evening, followed by an evening dry-fly session lasting until 10:30. I then get home, sit on the couch, turn on the TV, eat a quick meal (sometimes) and then pass out exhausted.
We fly-shop guys refer to this nightly fishing routine as “washing the shop off.” My legs and feet ache every morning from standing on them all day long. The funny thing is that I wouldn’t have it any other way. Nothing is more refreshing for the body, mind and soul after a long day at the office than standing in the river and simply decompressing.
The annual return of the green-drake mayfly causes fishermen to become crazed, maniacal and often obsessed with evening drake hatches. The river, like I do, seemingly comes alive again, catching that second wind and kicking things into high gear. It’s almost as if the river is “showing off,” as John Gierach says. During the last hour of light, seemingly every fish in the river is rising, showing you just how many fish — and big ones, too — live in the river. It’s one of nature’s most impressive displays, in my opinion.
Two options exist for anglers wanting to fish this renowned hatch: wading the river and walking its shoreline on foot or floating the river in a drift boat or raft. Both are thrilling, and both are effective.
I enjoy wading the river as it allows me to work a specific fish (or pod of fish) and it enables me to “hunt” the fish more. I enjoy seeing the fish rise, making a stalk, and then casting my fly over the fish, watching him engulf my fly, all at a closer level to the fish. The takes are often more slow and deliberate and will test the nerves of the best dry-fly fisherman.
Don’t get me wrong — I love floating. Boats can hold coolers filled with icy-cold beverages and gourmet riverside dinners, which is a huge bonus for many. Floating also allows you to cover miles of water, with your fly constantly being fished over new territory and new, eager trout.
Both on foot or by boat, the evening fishing is fabulous. I simply can’t get enough of it. All winter long, I dream of Roaring Fork green-drake hatches. If I miss a night of it, it’ll haunt me all next winter, and I’m not having that.
“On the Fly” is provided weekly by the staff at Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt.
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A “Snowmass Live” performance series brings live comedy and music to Base Village this summer.