The Hatch is here
Green Drake hatch gives anglers a big reason to hit the rivers
Pause for a minute or two during your busy days and make a list of the bugs of summer.
Mosquitoes, wasps, houseflies, deerflies, various spiders, ants, beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, horseflies and ticks.
And that’s just for starters.
Note how most of this list might also fall under the general heading of “pests.”
Now, ask any fly angler to name the bugs of summer and the list may be much shorter.
Green Drakes, grasshoppers, Green Drakes, stoneflies, Green Drakes, damselflies, Green Drakes, caddis.
Did we mention Green Drakes?
Ain’t no pests here.
Here’s another hint: If you’re headed for the Taylor, Fryingpan, Roaring Fork, Gunnison or any other Western river in the next month or so, forget the overloaded fly boxes with six squillion obtuse fly patterns.
For now is the time of the Hatch, the Green Drake hatch, and catching big trout on big flies is the most fun you can have standing up in the water.
As the first list illustrates, summer brings out a host of insects, most of which have been imitated by fly tiers and most of which will, at one time or another, catch a hungry trout.
But what would you rather do — catch a 12-inch brown on a size 22 midge or a 22-inch brown on a size 12 Green Drake?
For guide Kirk Webb at Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt (970-927-4374), there’s no doubting his preference.
“There are lots of different insects in and around the water this time of year,” he said recently. “But the Green Drake is one of the largest mayfly species we have in Colorado and we all like to fish big flies we can see.”
Or not see.
Although Green Drake hatches on the Fryingpan and Taylor rivers seem to arrive around noon, the hatch on the Roaring Fork generally starts right around dusk.
Long-time Roaring Fork anglers love to regale you with tales of “oh-dark-thirty” hatches, the legendary Roaring Fork “lightning round” where the darker it gets, the faster the fishing.
“It’s the weirdest thing you’ll do,” veteran Roaring Fork and Fryingpan guide Tim Heng said a few years ago. “It can be pitch dark and all around you, you hear the slurp of big fish feeding.
“My advice is to cast and wait for the blast. Don’t worry, you’ll know when a fish hits your fly.”
A little entomology, if you will.
Research indicates water temperature affects Green Drake hatches, which is why the bugs show up on the mid- and lower Roaring Fork before making an appearance on the dam-released Fryingpan or upper Taylor rivers.
And that’s why the hatch is easing off on the lower Taylor but still strong farther up, said Rick Smith of Almont Anglers Guide Service (970-641-7404).
“It’s just about over down here, there’s still a few coming off, but it’s better higher up, near the dam where the water is colder,” Smith said. “They seem to come off a little earlier this year, like about the last week in June.”
Smith said he and two other anglers recently floated from Almont to Gunnison, where the water temperature was 60 degrees, and there still were drakes on the water.
“I don’t think the high water we had in June had any effect” on the timing of the hatch, Smith said. “It was high but clear and warm and the drakes were coming off.”
The nymphs are flat crawlers, living in the cobbles where streams run quick. Once dislodged, either accidentally or when getting ready to emerge, the weak-swimming nymphs offer trout numerous opportunities for an easy meal.
And those big, well-veined wings, ranging from light-green to a mottled gray, take some time to dry while the insect floats along the current.
More slurping is heard.
The Green Drake hatch can run from mid-June to late August and on the Taylor immediately below the dam several anglers last weekend were seen catching trout on drakes.
“Yeah, but now we’re into caddis, they’re coming off like crazy,” he said.
Quick, where’s that list?