Fishing the winter midge hatch |

Fishing the winter midge hatch

Paul Limbach releases a Frying Pan Rainbow during a recent fishing trip. (SHANNON OUTING)
Shannon Outing |

If you were to ask avid anglers to recount their most special days on the river, many would sing tales of eager trout piercing the water’s surface to sip a vulnerable fly. Dry fly fishing is almost a religion to some. So when winter’s cold breath sweeps through the Western Slope, it also dampens the spirit of the dry fly enthusiast. Luckily here in the Roaring Fork Valley, we are blessed with wonderful winter midge hatches that some would call legendary.

Those willing to endure cold hands and toes should head up Frying Pan Road in pursuit of rising fish. The hatch will mainly go off from noon on, so no need for an early start. Our favorite midge recipe consists of rigging a Bill’s midge emerger trailed on 7x behind a para-bwo. What can make this hatch so exciting is the ability to sight fish instead of randomly casting, attempt to dead drift to a specific rising fish. Not only will you be more successful, but you will also gain the sense of “hunting” for the fish. Another technique is to cast with a downstream presentation. This will let your dry fly offering be the first thing the trout sees, instead of fly line and leader. Overcast days can prove to fuel the hatch even more. If snow is in the forecast, don’t let that deter you — we have experienced some magical days where fish rise among the falling flakes.

March reveals early signs of spring, and soon enough will begin seeing our famous blue wing olives flying around. That being said, we will also see more of the two-legged hatch as well. So when your legs are sore from skiing, remember there is opportunity for great dry fly fishing with little to no crowds.

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

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