On the Fly: Don’t forget the Crystal | AspenTimes.com

On the Fly: Don’t forget the Crystal

Kirk Webb
Special to The Aspen Times

The autumn fishing is finally peaking. Look for the next few weeks in particular to yield fall's best fishing.

This is due in large part to the annual spawning of the rivers' resident brown trout and whitefish. For the past two to three weeks, the brown trout on the Roaring Fork River have been tough to find and catch, as they've been too preoccupied with spawning. Recently, though, we've noticed a dramatic increase in their feeding behavior as many of the fish are now post-spawn and back to feeding hard before the long winter sets in.

Egg patterns continue to dominate when nymphing the deeper pools and seams. The best fishing colors have included champagne and cheese. Smaller blue-wing olive and midge imitations — such as sparklewing RS-2s, tungsten hoovers, zebra midges and medallion midges in sizes 18 to 22 fished as droppers behind your egg — also will yield plenty of fish. Shallow- to medium-depth two-fly nymph rigs, fished with a decent amount of weight to drive your flies near or on the bottom, are best. Unlike the technical waters of the Fryingpan River, heavier tippets of 4x and 5x are sufficient.

Hatches of blue-wing olives and midges are a daily occurrence along the Fryingpan. There, the biggest key to being successful is to site fish as much as possible and to fish light fluorocarbon tippets of 6x and 7x. Unlike on the Roaring Fork, the brown trout of the Fryingpan spawn from mid-November through mid-January. With Ruedi Reservoir turning over, the best water clarity (and fishing) has been away from the dam.

The Colorado River, like the Roaring Fork, also is starting to pick back up. Streamer fishing the riprap and shelves is producing more fish daily. As usual, the fishing has been fickle down here. Some days yield fish after fish, while other days can leave you wondering if there are any fish in the river.

Perhaps some of the best fishing occurring right now is on the often-overlooked Crystal River. A surprising number of brown trout and whitefish move into the Crystal River from the Roaring Fork in efforts to spawn. Look for the best fishing to take place along the lower river around Carbondale. The "Staircase," "RVR" and near the Carbondale Fish Hatchery are all seeing good productivity.

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Keep in mind that the major tributaries of the lower Roaring Fork (Three and Four Mile creeks) and Colorado rivers (Grizzly, No Name and Canyon creeks) are off-limits to fishing to protect spawning fish. Seemingly anywhere you go fishing in the valley right now, you can count on having a productive outing. Enjoy.

"On the Fly" is provided weekly by the staff at Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt.