Despite the conditions you’re seeing out there on the dam-released Fryingpan and local freestones like the Roaring Fork, Crystal and Colorado rivers, there are still opportunities to catch a few. The fish don’t go on vacation during runoff; they still eat every day. The major factor that plays in the angler’s favor is there is no mystery where the fish are hanging out: right along the banks. During these adverse conditions, it’s probably wise to just stay out of the river entirely (on the freestones with little to no visibility) and pluck a few fish right where you’d normally stand in the water’s edge.
You can keep all of your light tippet and small flies on the back burner for a little while longer and stick to the basics: San Juan Worms, stonefly nymphs and flashy beaded pheasant tails and the like. There might be a few opportunities for tossing dries in the afternoons, but most of us are out there nymphing for a few hours here and there. Choose your battles during runoff and play to your strengths.
The word on the street is that we will see the Fryingpan releases subside a bit next week after this week’s annual “flush,” so keep the faith and keep an eye on your fellow anglers as flows remain high for a bit longer. After hardly any runoff at all last year, it’s great to see the Pan get a good spring cleaning this time around. Another benefit of high flows are the big fish people are catching out there; the large fish tend to hide all day and eat all night but do not have that luxury during these higher river flows.
For those of you with a healthy fear of big and fast water, keep an eye on the various lakes that are starting to open up and fish well. Your local fly shop staff can recommend some of their favorite still water options close to you, and fly selection is usually quite straightforward on Colorado lakes, ponds and reservoirs. Some open local favorites are Dinkle, Nast and Chapman. Stay safe and be patient, runoff will end.
This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or taylorcreek.com.