On The Fly: Low snowpack will lead to high catch rate on rivers this spring

Kirk Webb
On The Fly

Another offseason has arrived as the ski hills begin to make their transformations from whites to browns and greens and from skiers to hikers.

It’s no secret that our snowpack levels are well below average this year. Though much doom and gloom surrounds our current snowpack levels, fish are survivors and are masters of perseverance and adaptation. Anglers will also need to adapt this year in order to persevere and become successful on the water.

One of the positives of having a low snowpack year is that our early season fishing (now through the first half of July) is going to be nothing short of sensational. Our annual spring caddis hatch typically coincides with the leading edge of runoff where, just as the fishing gets great, the river blows out and becomes muddy and unfishable.

In fact, caddis are already hatching in good numbers on the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers in Glenwood Springs under clear-water conditions, thus yielding solid fishing.

The same can be said of other hallowed early season hatches like stoneflies and green drakes. On an average year, drakes begin hatching just as runoff dissipates and the rivers clear during the end of June or beginning of July. My fishing diary indicates that on other low water years (like 2012), green drakes can hatch as early as the second week of June. With this in mind, anglers like me are champing at the bit for epic spring and early summer fishing.

As the heat of summer approaches and the rivers begin to recede, water temperatures will rise. When this happens, we don’t give up on the fishing, we just fish in other areas not affected by rising temperatures.

While the possibility of dangerously high summer river water temperatures are real but yet to be told, the monsoonal rains of August and September generally bail us out of the red and back into the black, so to speak. I fondly remember spending more time fishing the lesser-known (and also more beautiful) fisheries of our valley’s high country in 2012. Anglers can also chase warm-water species of fish like bass, sunfish, carp and pike around in our lower-elevation stillwaters for a fun change of pace.

I personally look forward to our fantastic spring fishing every winter, summer and fall. If there was ever a favorite fishing season for me, it would surely be spring.

The renewal of spring always feels great. It’s time to put on the sunscreen, drive with your windows down, rock the flip-flops and enjoy our magnificent spring fishing.

This column is provided weekly by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4370.

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