On the fly: A break from skiing | AspenTimes.com

On the fly: A break from skiing

Will Sands
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Kirk WebbA Roaring Fork River brown trout caught on an egg pattern in Basalt.

BASALT – While I am sure most locals and visitors are dreaming of dropping into their favorite powder stashes and an epic mountain opener, there are still plenty of fishheads out there taking advantage of some excellent fishing right now.

When the snow starts flying, many people find it hard to wrap their head around the idea that fly fishing is still even possible. It is just not an activity that is traditionally thought of during the winter months. That being said, more and more anglers each year are learning just how good winter fishing is. Thus, for the nonskier visiting the valley with their ski bum friends or for someone taking a day off to rest weary ski legs, winter fly fishing certainly is an option.

At this time of the season, bright, warm winter days can produce excellent midge hatches on the Fryingpan and floating the Roaring Fork can be a memorable way to enjoy a day. With snow throughout the valley the rivers take on a whole different appearance. With a few good layers and the right flies, you might forget for a few hours that the winter ski season is beginning, that you are just downvalley of the legendary ski town of Aspen and instead fishing the world-famous rivers of the Roaring Fork Valley during ski season.

Anglers concentrating their efforts on the Fryingpan this week should expect good midge hatches at midday, coupled with blue-wing olives. Dry-fly fishing has been quite consistent from noon to 3 or 4 p.m. Before, after or during hatch periods, nymph fishing will be very solid. Tiny flies (sizes 20-24) are necessary right now and light leaders and tippets from 6X to 7X are a must on the Fryingpan.

Roaring Fork anglers have the option to wade or float the river right now. Both approaches have been productive. Nymph fishing will be most productive with limited or no dry-fly fishing on the Fork. Concentrate on the deeper runs and pools where fish will be congregating. Try hiring a local guide if you are new to the valley or drop in a local shop for the hot flies this week and public access points if you prefer to do it yourself.

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