Salomone: Squeeze it

Fly fishing outfitters make up the vast majority of commercial use on Eagle County-owned open space.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

Feeling the end of the summer season brushing up against the front door leaves me wanting more.

More barbecues. More bike rides with my wife. More dry-fly fishing.

Don’t give up yet. There is still great summertime fly fishing to be had before fall sets in completely. Squeeze the last breaths of summer out of the time we have left.

Kids are stuffing backpacks for the arrival of the inaugural day. Hot days and cool nights leave the first feelings of autumn on your skin. The river temperatures have been riding the temperature rollercoaster, too. Some local river sections are still under a volunteer fishing closure declared by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Some anglers choose to put too much emphasis on the “volunteer” wordage in the fishing closures. Make no mistake, everything we do as modern-day anglers is a choice. If anglers are choosing not to adhere to the fishing closure conditions, they need to find other locations to fish. There is good water around with lots of fish for anglers who feel the need.

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Fly choice — caddis, mayflies and terrestrials — is directed by the time of day.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

Sylvan Lake state Park is in excellent shape for anglers fishing from the shore or from small watercraft. The state makes regular trout stocking to keep the fish population favorably high. The fish seem to like a little bit of everything, too. From bait anglers to spin fishers — and absolutely fly anglers — the fishing is stellar no matter what approach you choose.

On a recent outing with my family and dogs to Sylvan Lake, we encountered various sections along the road where leaves were beginning their color transformation into autumn. Leaves will soon be yellowed and covered by a downy blanket of white that grips tightly for months. My wife asked me to stop pointing the yellow leaves out to her, wanting rather to squeeze a few more summer moments out of our remaining days too.

Summertime really is the season of the dry fly. Anglers can bank some impressive numbers of fish nymphing, if that is the choice, but the true fly fisher is throwing dry flies as long as opportunity lasts. The dry flies that are garnering the most attention from hungry trout cover a wide spectrum. Picking a variety of flies to use during the day is an exciting approach that triggers more mental engagement during your fishing.

Summer is the season of the dry fly.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

Bugs that should be on your line cover caddis, mayflies and terrestrials. Fly choice is directed by the time of day. High times for activity vary and the knowledgeable angler is prepared for the changes that happen rapidly throughout the day.

Caddis are still drawing strikes with regularity. Big, bushy, dry flies like the ever popular elk hair caddis draw attention from hungry trout that may or may not be keyed in on the surface. A well presented caddis will make them rise. Ambush points along rocks or large boulders where the current leaves a seam are prime area for high floating caddis to get eaten.

A variety of mayflies are moving about, depending on the type of day. Any cloud cover or overcast skies create the desirable conditions for a Blue Wing Olive, or BWO, emergence. Small parachute Adams patterns are the hot ticket to mimic the BWOs. Pale morning duns — PMDs — have been showing up as well. These flies are slightly larger than the BWOs and are light in color, cream or off-white in size 12-16.

A nice and plump Eagle River rainbow trout.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

Tricos are abundant and when they die, leave tasty, floating morsels trout gobble up. In the early morning, the insects are gathering up higher off the river than most anglers observe. The tricos will lower closer to the water in a bouncing dance. Tricos can be a difficult fly to fish, but anglers that perfect their skills fishing with tricos can fish any delicate dry fly anywhere.

In the afternoon, midges are clustering around boulders and skating in side pockets. A big dry/little dry approach is a fabulous technique for keeping a small dry fly on the surface and for visual recognition of a strike. The larger fly purposely drags and pulls the midge dry unpredictably across the surface like a real midge cluster. Griffith’s Gnat is the best fly for this presentation.

Terrestrials are coming into full swing as well. Hoppers, ants and beetles drifted along cutbanks will bring fish to the net. Anglers adept at plopping terrestrials in August are guaranteed to have a good time on the water.

Keep a grip on summertime as long as you can. Have another barbeque. Take a hike with your dog. Throw some more dry flies. Summer is still here. Squeeze it.

Anglers adept at plopping terrestrials in August are guaranteed to have a good time on the water.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

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