Despite spring runoff, fishing season continues
The best fly-fishing of the year is a few short weeks away on our local fisheries and anglers have a lot to look forward to this summer.
A good snowpack means our rivers should be in fine shape this summer with healthy, hungry trout. More than 20 miles of the upper Colorado River, from Pumphouse to Rock Creek near McCoy, is Colorado’s newest section of gold-medal trout water. On the Eagle River and Roaring Fork River, the fishing has already been fantastic this spring and should be even better by late June.
But, for the next few weeks local anglers are forced to suffer through spring runoff, which brings higher flows and challenging fishing. When spring runoff turns the rivers murky, many anglers shy away from fishing during these conditions.
The truth is, however, that trout can and do continue feeding in off-color water and may even feed more aggressively than when the water is clear. Tactics simply need to be changed to adapt to the conditions.
When the fishing is tough, the best anglers seem to find a way to put trout in the net with a few go to flies that always seem to get the job done, even in high, muddy rivers.
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Here are some good fly patterns to use now:
Pat’s Rubberleg Stonefly
This fly is a simply-tied stonefly pattern that is durable and extremely effective. Stoneflies are a mainstay food item for trout in rivers such as the Colorado, Eagle and Roaring Fork.. They are a big meal that is available year-round. During high flows, they are dislodged more often and their beefy profile is easier to see in cloudy currents.
San Juan Worm
Love it or hate it, the worm catches fish. This is never more true than when flows come up quickly and there is some color and debris in the water. Aquatic and terrestrial earthworms are dislodged when flows increase and trout take notice of this easily captured large chunk of protein. The most effective colors seem to be red, pink and tan and sometimes a flashy sparkle worm is deadly.
It is a fairly common tactic to go after trout with large streamer patterns when the river is muddy and the tequeely is an ideal choice at these times. It is a mutant version of a wooly bugger at but sports some serious fish attracting qualities that other streamers lack. A flashy, metallic copper colored body shines brightly while a bright chartreuse tail undulates and adds lifelike movement. The final touch is several large yellow rubber legs which wobble and pulse with each strip of the fly line.
While the Tequeely in no way imitates a specific food source, it does have several triggers that make trout attack this fly aggressively.
These are a few flies that are proven winners in spring run-off conditions. Anglers should use dark or bright, big flies with lots of flash. Focus on fishing water well away from the main current. Slower bank water, small side channels and back eddies are fish magnets in high water.
The next time you arrive at the water’s edge to see murky water and high flows do not assume the fish are not feeding. There are times when this may spur trout into eating flies that are not often fished in clear flows. To stock up on these fly patterns stop by the Vail Valley Anglers fly shop to check out our huge fly inventory.
Brody Henderson is a senior guide at Vail Valley Anglers. He can be reached at 970-926-0900.