Be not afraid out there, fellow fly fishers. Rising rivers offer unique challenges to the angler as well as the trout, but you can take advantage of the conditions and turn them to your favor. Just because the water is swift and increasingly dirty doesn’t mean that the fish will be on hunger strike until July. While most anglers are focused on the Fryingpan during runoff, you can enjoy vast swaths of the Roaring Fork in relative solitude in the coming months.
When the water is fast and visibility becomes an issue, this pushes most fish right to the edges of the river. Now is the time to be casting into the spots you would normally be standing in. This is the time for heavier tippets and bigger, eye-catching attractor dry flies, nymphs and streamers, too. It’s all about the caddis and stoneflies right now, who usually take their cues to hatch from the ever-increasing volume of water and brighter, hotter sun.
Having more than one rod rigged and ready to fish will increase your catch rate also. The fish can switch back and forth between subsurface and top water feeding at a moment’s notice, and having one rod rigged with dries and another with nymphs (or streamers) will save you rigging time and make you a more effective angler. This is ultimately a more economical way to change back and forth without wasting big chunks of expensive fluorocarbon tippets or chopping your brand new tapered leader in half.
Determining where the fish actually are in the river most of the year can be a challenge in itself, but during runoff the predictability factor tilts in your favor. All the fish want is to relax in “softer” water while being on the edges of the current, which enables them to lean out or come up to snatch a tasty morsel once in a while before it whizzes by. Just give them what they want, where they want it, and you will reap the benefits through high water season.
— This column 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.