Anglers enjoying streamer season while awaiting the caddis hatch
It’s the perennial question among anglers in Eagle County — When will the caddisfly hatch this year?
Mother’s Day is used as a benchmark date to watch for caddisflies on the Eagle River; the holiday is celebrated on the second Sunday in May every year and this year, with the first Sunday also being the first day of the month, Mother’s Day comes as early as possible. Recent storms have kept water cold and the caddisfly is looking for water temperatures of 40-plus degrees.
But nevertheless, John Packer, with Fly Fishing Outfitters, who has been keeping an eye on the caddisfly for decades, says he’s already seen a few hatching late in the day.
“It was going off over the last couple of days,” he said on Tuesday. “The water temperature got up over 40 degrees and even reached 50.”
When the caddisfly hatches on the Eagle River, local anglers will switch to dry flies. For now, though, it’s streamer season. Large in size and adorned with animated appendages, streamer flies require an angler to use a heavier line and a more aggressive technique, mimicking a fish rather than a fly.
Packer fished the Eagle River on Tuesday with his co-worker Matt Fletcher. Fletcher caught a 12-inch rainbow trout and a 10-inch brown trout within 10 minutes of arriving to meet Packer, who wasn’t having the same luck.
“It’s my favorite time of the year for fishing,” Fletcher said. “Streamer fishing is the most fun, for sure.”
“You’re fishing more of a preditorial-type take, the fish hits the line like a freight train,” Packer said. “It’s not thinking it’s an insect, it’s attacking it as if it’s another fish.”
Packer has been taking anglers on streamer fly trips on the Upper Colorado River in recent days.
“The Upper Colorado is fishing the best of the local rivers right now,” he said.
UNIQUE UPPER Colorado
On Monday, Packer took a float trip down the Upper Colorado. Streamer fishing is known for catching bigger fish, and that proved true for him.
“We didn’t catch a single small fish the whole day,” he said. “It was all big fish.”
After the Mother’s Day caddisfly hatch, the next big hatch to get excited about is the salmon fly on the Upper Colorado, which usually hatches early- to mid-June.
“It only lasts a couple of weeks,” Packer said. “It’s salmon in color with big flat wings, a really big bug. Some of them are like 3 inches long. … The fish just gorge on them.”