On the Fly: A can’t-miss hatch
The anticipation is killing me. Fortunately, the long wait is over and truly epic dry-fly fishing is right on our doorstep.
Green drakes are the most famous hatch we experience in this valley, and for good reasons. These huge mayflies already are hatching along the Colorado River and even are working their way up the Roaring Fork at this point. And the fish are taking notice.
To fish this hatch effectively, you’ve got to go late. Tell your significant other that you’ll be home for dinner but not dessert. Fishing these huge bugs in the twilight is sweeter than anything you’ll find in the freezer at home. It’s time to stock up on flashlight batteries and dry-fly floatant, as well as time to tie up some jumbo size-10 and -12 drake patterns. The lightning round begins around 8 p.m. and lasts well into the dark on most nights along the Roaring Fork.
There are a multitude of patterns to choose from for the drake hatch; I highly suggest high-visibility patterns such as the H and L Variant, the Royal Wulff and Irresistibles as go-to flies. It pays to carry a few cripple patterns as well, as many of these bugs get stuck in the surface film or in their shucks during emergence. The bright, white calf tail incorporated into the H and L is easy to see in the dying light, if the loud slurp of the trout inhaling the fly doesn’t alert you to a tight line first.
The best indicators of this hatch are our feathered friends. If you see bats, swallows and other winged creatures going crazy above the river, it’s time to pull over and start fishing. I’m not sure if the birds and bats eat more drakes than the fish, but they both get their fair share of these giant morsels. It’s not uncommon to have a bat snatch your fly right out of the air while casting, which is another reason to pinch those barbs down.
This hatch is one you don’t want to miss, and it will last for the next few months until the flies peter out and start up all over again on the Fryingpan in August.
“On the Fly” is provided weekly by the staff at Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt.
Two Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteer projects are scheduled to assist with finish work, rock armoring and seeding of disturbed areas, according Ted O’Brien, manager of Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Resource and Trails. The events will be led in collaboration with Open Space and Trails and the Roaring Fork Mountain Biking Association.
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