The fertile waters of the Frying Pan, Roaring Fork, and Colorado offer tremendous hatches of Green Drakes, Pale Morning Duns, Blue-Winged Olives, and many different caddis during the summer season. Timing and location will dictate which insects you see when, but be sure that on any given day there is quality fishing with dry flies on local streams. Should we encounter high and discolored water on our rivers it will occur early in the summer, from the middle of May to the middle of June some years. Years with low snowpack will not experience high water conditions for nearly this long. About the third week in June we start to see green Drakes on the Fork. This hatch starts in Glenwood Springs and progresses upstream to Aspen over a period of about 3-4 weeks.
On the Roaring Fork the drake emergence tends to be heaviest in the evening although a cloudy and rainy day will also produce good hatches. Drake hatches on The Pan are more of a mid-day phenomenon. The hatch starts mid to late July and some years can still be present well into September in the waters just below Ruedi. There are some local anglers who fish nothing but drakes for 6-8 weeks simply by moving with the hatch. PMD's start in July and are present until late in August. There are some years that this is the most important hatch of the summer. They emerge during the middle part of the day on our waters with best activity during cloud cover and are often present in great numbers right along side the drakes. Some fish will be selective to one insect and some to the other. It is truly a horrible situation to have to deal with.
Caddis are present all summer, especially during the evenings. They vary from size 10 to size 20 depending on timing and location. There is not a summer day that goes by when fish are not rising to caddis somewhere on area waters. Summer is also one of our prime times to float the Fork and the Colorado. Casting into the banks with big dries or streamers provides some of the most exciting and visual fishing of the year. The float fishing places a premium on making quick accurate casts and has often been compared to pass shooting rapidly flying ducks. You have one chance at each pocket and then its gone. The hopper fishing on the big rivers brings even the largest trout to the surface and is a favorite of many anglers.
Summer is also prime time for exploring the miles of high-country streams in search of cutthroats and brookies. While these fish may lack a little something in size compared to those in the lower valley, they more than make up for this in numbers and lack of sophistication. They present a great chance for the young fly fisher to perfect their skills and are found inhabiting some of the most spectacular mountain scenery anywhere. With the variety of water available within 20 miles of Basalt and the incredible insect life present in area streams it is easy to see why those who favor dry fly fishing consider our special part of the Rockies to be truly an enchanted place to fish.