Colorado Spring fly fishing can be one of the most productive times of year on the water. As the weather starts to warm and days get a little longer insect activity picks up and fish start to feed a little more heavily then they do during the winter. Hatches comprised of larger Midges and Blue Winged Olives become more consistent and we start to find fish in all types of water. Shallow transitional water will often have fish suspended under the surface eating emerging insect as well as adult flies on the surface. You will also find fish actively feeding in the tail-outs of faster moving water into the slow moving deeper pools that follow.
These conditions offer excellent opportunities to fish dry flies as well as light nymph rigs. Although the fishing can be bonkers at times it does not come without its occasional challenges. One of the biggest challenges you will find is insect size. While Midges and BWO’s tend to be larger in size there are days when the fish are keyed in on much smaller insects and will refuse your larger presentations. For this reason it is important to bring plenty of fly patterns is numerous sizes and colors. Especially when fishing dry flies. The one fly I always trust this time of year is the Roy Palms Special Midge Emerger. I have probably written about this fly numerous times but it a pattern that works when all others are not. I highly recommend grabbing a half dozen of these flies in different sizes and fishing them both wet or dry.
Timing – Angling pressure certainly picks up this time of year and while it helps to get to your favorite spot a little earlier than normal, fishing still remains best during the warmest parts of the day. Midges and Blue Wings start coming off sporadically later in the morning, but the bulk of the hatch is usually around noon – 1pm. during this time you will find the fly fishing picks up significantly. If you are strictly on the river to cast dry flies be patient and wait until you see rising fish before you start blind casting. This can be a test in patience but will pay off in the end.
Set-Up – Much like your winter set-up, your leaders should be long and lean. 5x-6x tippet helps when throwing dry flies to risers in skinny water. You will find that as spring continues water clarity will begin to stain and at that time you can beef up your tippet and start throwing larger caddis and stonefly nymphs. Until then think light and continue to present smaller midge and BWO patterns. If fish are not rising and nymphing is a technique you prefer, start off with a light, shallow nymph rig and fish the water close to the river bank. if you are not successful in these areas adjust your set-up accordingly and move to deeper bends and pools. While it is tempting to dredge the bottom often times a bead-head nymph trailed by an emerging midge pattern is enough weight to find trout in all water types.
Streamers – We all love casting big bugs and moving them through pocket water in anticipation of that aggressive trout inhaling our offering. While I encourage you to employ this technique it might still be a little early for great streamer results. Once our rivers start to turn off color and rise a bit more consistently you will find that the streamer bite picks up. Until then focus your streamer fishing on days when there is not a lot of dry fly activity. Keep your streamers small in size and present them in shallow pocket water as well as slower tail outs. Once the water levels rise break out a heavier rod and start splashing those larger sculpzillas wherever you want.
Rainbow Trout – Right now the rainbow trout have their feed bags on and are gearing up for their spawn. While these beauties are fun to catch, spring is spawning time for Rainbow Trout. If you see reeds or fish paired up please leave them alone. You will find spawning trout in shallow slow moving water with a gravel bottom. Give them a wide berth and do not walk on or near their spawning beds. The gravel they kick up is to cover their eggs so we do not want to crush their future..literally. If you see and angler fishing to spawning trout DO NOT be afraid to say something. If they give you a hard time, which they probably will, deal with it like a professional. There is no need to drop the gloves on the river.
No matter where you are fly fishing in Colorado, Spring is a great time to be on the water. Expect fishing to remain consistent until we get our first big push of run-off.