It is at this time trout move from the deep glides and pools of winter to the riffles and pockets they favor. One can feel a rejuvenated level of activity in all living things. It is a sacred time on our streams and one that is cherished by those who know these rivers well. Baetis mayflies are the first hatch of spring on all area waters. We normally start seeing these size 18-20 grayish-olive insects about the middle of March and continue well into June. They blanket the water on cloudy spring days in numbers that defy the imagination. The trout rise readily to them in quiet tailouts and pools. This is the time that we resume floating the Fork and Colorado casting streamers and nymphs into pockets along the banks.
On the upper Frying Pan below Ruedi Dam the urge to spawn moves the large shrimp-eating rainbows out of the deeper holds of winter and encourages them to spread out through the top several miles of river. One can approach the most innocent looking riffle only to have it explode as ten pounds of spooked rainbow trout leaves for parts unknown. It is a time for sight-fishing these behemoths and carefully stalking water that might well have been ignored during winter months. Mysis shrimp patterns and midge larvae are the flies of choice for these fish. Late spring we start to see caddis hatches especially on the Roaring Fork and Colorado.
The "Mother's Day" hatch is without doubt one of the heaviest of the entire year. These size 14-16 gray caddis are present in numbers that cause one to breathe carefully to avoid inhaling more than just a small mouthful. One must be ready to go on a moment's notice when these insects start to emerge. The hatch moves up river very rapidly and with the possibility of occasionally discolored water it is imperative to be in the right place at the right time. Nymph fishermen consider this time of the year perhaps the best in terms of numbers of fish. Attractor patterns and stonefly imitations along with glow-bugs account for the most fish although during hatches the appropriate matching nymph will be most effective. Spring is often an inconsistent time for many western trout destinations because of runoff . With the tailrace situation of the Frying Pan, however, there is always an option to waiting for summer flows. In fact some of the best opportunities of the year occur during springtime on the Pan. It is truly a unique year-round fishery.