August fishing choices as vast as the hatches |

August fishing choices as vast as the hatches

Scott Sponner with a large high country rainbow trout from BarZX Ranch near Paonia.
Thomas Clennon/Special to the Post Independent |

Late July and August in the Roaring Fork Valley conjures up images of juicy size ten and twelve green drakes on the Fryingpan, blanket PMD hatches on the Roaring Fork, and prolific swarms of caddis on the Colorado and Crystal Rivers.

August is also the perfect time to explore our plethora of high country lakes, small spring creeks and feeder streams up and down the valley.

If you are after huge dry fly fishing and a river full of risers, the “Ph.D” Fryingpan trout lose all inhibitions in August.

Green drakes are going strong by late summer, and our trout consume so many of these morsels that their bellies hang like beer guts.

These bugs hatch during gentleman’s hours, usually noon until three or four p.m.

With this world-famous hatch come the crowds, although the 14 miles of tailwater between Ruedi Reservoir and the confluence with the Roaring Fork offers plenty of public water to explore.

Bring the size 10 and 12 drake patterns, some PMDs, rusty spinners, small BWOs, and, of course, mysis shrimp.

The Roaring Fork offers up over 70 miles of freestone delights, PMDs and caddis are the main entrée with drakes, stoneflies, BWOs and some amazing streamer fishing to be found as well.

The upper Fork (near Aspen) is steep gradient pocket water full of rainbows, cutthroats and browns.

The middle river (near Basalt) is bigger water, and holds more browns than rainbows.

By the time you get to the lower river (near Glenwood Springs) the volume has nearly quadrupled and this water is best approached from a drift boat.

Rocky Mountain whitefish abound in addition to the usual trout suspects.

The Crystal River flows down through Carbondale and merges with the Roaring Fork — the best angling opportunities exist from the confluence up through Redstone.

No need to overthink this river; attractor dries, woolly buggers and beaded nymphs like copper Johns and STDs are all you need to carry to catch a few fish.

The Crystal sees very little of the “2 legged hatch” that the other rivers in the area experience, so head up this gorgeous little freestone if you don’t want to see another angler all day.

If you love to catch big whitefish, check out the “Staircase” in Carbondale.

Most of our guide staff fishes the big and mighty water of the Colorado in August on offdays, always from a McKenzie style drift boat.

This water teems with caddis, yellow sallies and PMDs in late summer, and hosts the best streamer fishing around.

Float trips are best launched from Two Rivers, Dinosaur, New Castle, and even as “low” as Silt.

We get on and off this river early in August, as the water gets dangerously warm by 6 p.m. and trout revival can get worrisome after a hard battle.

The Colorado hosts all species of trout, whitefish and other exotica — even bass are caught on floats from Silt to Rifle.

Lastly, the high country scene in this part of the world is simply breathtaking.

The Fryingpan above Ruedi is excellent dry-dropper water, as well as Rocky Fork Creek, which spills into the Fryingpan behind the tailwater.

For the high country still-water aficionados, check out American and Cathedral lakes, which are loaded with cutthroat trout.

If you want to sample some private high-country ponds, check out the Bar ZX ranch outside of Paonia, a guide is required for this amazing trout ranch.

You just can’t go wrong in the Roaring Fork Valley in August, swing in to Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt or Aspen and we will set you on the right path.

— 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

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