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Fishing in the High Country

Many of the monster hatches have left the waters of the Western Slope by the time fall rolls around. But fall may be the best time of the year for fly fishermen to bring that monster trout up from the depths of the river.

When the weather turns a little cooler many fishermen trade in their wispy light dry-fly rigs for beefier streamer setups.

Yes, those big “bugs” ” the size of a thumb or bigger ” tend to make a nice meal for a big, aggressive trout.

“Fishing streamers ” big streamers ” may give you the opportunity of catching that ‘toad’ ” that big brown (trout),” said Drew Reid, a manager of Alpine Angling and Roaring Fork Anglers in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs.

Streamer fishing is the most physically active type of freshwater river angling. Unlike dry-fly or dead-drift nymph fishing, fishermen aren’t just mending the line looking for the perfect drift. It’s more of a cast-strip-strip-strip, cast-strip-strip-strip …, essentially swimming the fly, which often mimics a sculpin or trout fry, across the hole.

While the fishing style is a departure from dry-fly fishing, it’s similar in that anglers get to feel the excitement of seeing the fish take the fly ” often in dramatic fashion.

“You get to see the fish eat, which to me is half the excitement,” Reid said. “If it’s chasing and slashing, that’s as exciting as anything. You don’t even have to catch the fish.”

Fishing streamers from the bank or wading can be good, but anglers likely will have more success fishing from a boat. Fishing from a drift boat or raft allows anglers to be higher off the water and a better vantage point from which to see the streamer and, hopefully, the trout taking the streamer.

“It’s certainly best done from a boat,” said Tim Heng, manager of Taylor Creek Fly Shop located on the bank of the Fryingpan River in Basalt. “It can be some of the most exciting fishing because you see everything. Everything is very visual, like dry-fly fishing in a way.”

There is also the benefit of sheer mileage. Anglers can cover a ton of water with a boat that is otherwise inaccessible.

Sticking with the small flies?

While the fall is prime streamer fishing, there’s no need to limit the action. And all fall fishing has one thing in common ” there are fewer people.

With a little more elbow room, there’s of dry-fly action on terrestrials ” ants, beetles, etc. ” until the first hard freeze. Following the freeze anglers may have better luck with small flies like blue-winged olives and midge patterns, according to Reid.

“You can pretty much count on blue-winged olives,” said Reid, who runs guides on the Fryingpan, Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers.

For nymphing, stick with the basics ” prince, pheasant tail and midge patterns, for example.

“I would focus on or favor the smaller patterns, even down to a #20 midge larva,” Reid said.

By G. Sean Kelly of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

Vail Colorado


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