On The Fly: Humans aren’t the only ones after hungry fish | PostIndependent.com

On The Fly: Humans aren’t the only ones after hungry fish

Scott Spooner
On The Fly

I often wonder as I sit on the banks of our rivers, who eats more bugs? The fish or the bats and bird life?

The ouzels here in the Roaring Fork Valley are as fat as little Santas, and watching the swallows pick off caddis and drakes on the surface with their silent, graceful flight is always a sight to behold. Hummingbirds do their share of damage with midges in the mornings too.

Just like ocean fishing, all fly fishers here take their cues from bird pandemonium over the water during a solid hatch.

While waiting for the green drake hatch to commence here on the river in Basalt earlier this week, I started to wonder if the fish take their cue from the birds and bats on this particular hatch. More interestingly, the green drakes really started to pop when I noticed fewer and fewer swallows, and more bats entering the picture.

Bats do some serious bug damage over the rivers. Anyone who has spent real time on the water has had a bat or swallow grab their fly right out of the air, and sometimes right off the water’s surface.

Eagles and herons do their share of river hunting out there, too. We have all caught fish here and there with scars on their backs, usually from a narrow escape with a bald eagle or the like.

Just last summer, I saw a bald eagle pull a kamikaze move right beside me, taking out a nice trout with a dive bomb move right out of a movie. The eagle went all the way into the river and emerged with a surprised 18-inch rainbow in its clutches.

This year seemed to bring us more robins than usual, and it is always interesting watching them browse through onstream brush, snacking on the occasional stonefly or caddis. I’m pretty sure we have year-round resident robins, but there sure are a lot of them this year.

The good thing is that there is room out there for everyone, whether you’re a bat, a hummingbird, or even a fly fisher.

This column is provided weekly by Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374, or on the Web at http://www.TaylorCreek.com.

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