April marks the official start of fishing season
April means many things to fly fishers. For most, it rings in the fishing “season,” as the first waves of blue winged olives and caddis arrive with those April showers.
Other areas in Colorado boast of their caddis hatches, but most valley locals realize this is simply not the case.
If you’ve ever experienced one of our “blizzard” caddis hatches on the Colorado or Roaring Fork rivers, you know what I’m talking about. This is a true “breathe through your teeth” hatch, complete with bugs crawling up your nose and between your eyeballs and polarized lenses.
The best way to approach these fish is to try and stay above the main wave of hatching insects where the fish are turned on but you can still see your artificial fly amongst the plethora of naturals.
Afternoons and early evenings can also be a magical time to fish, as adult female caddis come back to the water to lay their eggs on the water’s surface.
Good patterns to carry are Elk Hair Caddis, Later Skaters, Pearl and Elks, and the E/C Caddis. Suggested caddis nymphs are the Z-Wing in olive, Barr’s Graphic Caddis, and the ever-popular Beaded Prince Nymph.
Blue wing olives, or baetis, are the most prolific mayfly in our valley, even though they get second billing behind our world-famous green drake hatch.
After months of midges with little else, trout relish these larger insects and eat with reckless abandon during the month of April.
Blue wing olives are already hatching in good numbers along the lower Roaring Fork, and your best bet to catch this hatch is in the afternoon.
The hatch will work its way up-Valley as the month progresses and continue up to the Fryingpan River, as well.
Carry a few different patterns, and determine which fly the fish want on that particular day.
I strongly suggest the Perfect Baetis, Collett’s BWO Adult, Parachute Adams, and Roy’s Fryingpan Emerger in sizes 18-22.
Baetis will be slightly larger on the Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers, (size 18-20) and are smaller on the Fryingpan (size 20-22). Many of us fish a dry fly followed by an emerger or nymph, as many of the naturals simply cannot break through the surface tension of the river and get caught in or below the surface film.
Nymphing is productive before and after blue wing olive emergences, and we use more gray nymphs on the Fork and Colorado and black on the Fryingpan.
The best nymph patterns for the Fryingpan are black Poxyback Baetis and black RS2s, in addition to gray Sparklewing RS2s and Tungsten Ready Baetis for the Fork and Colorado.
These hatches are directly related to water and air temperatures, and with the warming trends we are looking forward to in April, the fishing action only gets better and better.