Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Hatches and Trout Flies for the Roaring Fork, Colorado
The important thing to remember when you are looking at the hatch times for the aquatic
insects in this river is the difference in the elevation of the stream at different points. The
water is always much colder in the high altitude headwater areas than it is in the lower
section of the river. When hatches occur, they usually start in the lowest sections first and
move upstream as the days go by. When we give a hatch period, keep this in mind. If you
are fishing the upper part, hatches will most likely occur near the end of the hatch period
and hatches starting in the lower sections may start close to the beginning of the time
period and end well before we show the hatch ending. The Spring runoff occurs about the
first to the middle of May and last around a month. During this time, the hatches can be
difficult or impossible to fish.
Midges hatch all year long but are more important when there are no other hatches
occurring. From about the end of October through the month of March, you should always
have imitations of the larvae, pupae and adults. Fish the moderate and slow sections of
the river or pockets and edges of the fast water.
Blue-winged Olives are the most common species of mayflies that exist on the Roaring
Fork River. They are bi-brooded and hatch in the Spring and again in the Fall. They start
hatching about the middle of March and last for a couple of months or until the middle of
May. They hatch again during the later part of August. The second hatch can last through
the month of November, depending on the weather.
The Western Green Drakes provide a lot of action for some anglers. The reason I say
some anglers is that the Green Drake hatch on other nearby rivers like the Frying Pan
River, draws more anglers than the Roaring Fork. The only pressure the river gets is from
the drift boat anglers on the lower section of the river. These mayflies start hatching near
the end of June and can hatch through the month of July and even later in the high
elevations. They can hatch through the month of August and into September in certain
Pale Morning Duns or PMDs hatch from about the middle of June all the way into
September depending on the particular part of the stream you are fishing. There are two
species of this mayfly, one of which hatches a little later than the other. At any one point,
the hatch usually last about two months. These mayflies are found in the moderate
sections of water in the river and the pockets and edges of the fast water.
The Red Quill is another important hatch. It usually occurs from about the first of July
through August. The fish can be keying on this mayfly when anglers are fishing patterns of
Around the middle to late April, Branchycentrus caddisflies hatch is huge quantities on the
Roaring Fork. This is the hatch thats commonly called the Mothers Day hatch. It can be
fished very similar to a mayfly hatch because the pupae hatch midstream. It last about
three weeks at any one point but moves upstream every day as the water warms. It may be
near the end of May before the hatch ends in the upper section of the river. The most
abundant species of caddisflies are Spotted Sedges. They hatch from June through the
month of September, depending on the particular species and section of the river. Make
sure you have imitations of their larvae, pupae and the adults. There are also a few of their
Little Sisters that hatch during July and early August. Short-horned Sedges is another
common caddisfly hatch. These little caddisflies hatch from June through July. There are a
few others but those listed above are the most important and most abundant ones.
There's a Salmonfly hatch that occurs usually during the time the Spring runoff is
occurring. It is possible to catch fish from the banks at certain times during the hatch on
both the nymphs and adult imitations. Little Brown Stoneflies, some of which are almost
black hatch before the Salmonflies during April until about the middle of May. There's also
a Golden Stonefly hatch that occurs from about the first of June through July and into early
August depending on the elevation. One of the better hatches that occurs on the Roaring
Fork is the Little Yellow Stoneflies, or Yellow Sallies, as most anglers call them. It starts
about the middle of June and can last through August depending on the location. Make
certain you have imitations of the nymphs and the adults.
During the months of July, August and about half of September, terrestrial insects can play
an important part of the trout's diet in the Roaring Fork. Imitations of ants, beetles and
grasshoppers all work at times. Make sure you have some terrestrial flies with you if you
fish the headwater areas during the summer. They work great in the lower section of the
river also and any areas where the stream runs through ranch land.
Streamers can be very important anytime the water is high and off color. Imitation of
minnows, baitfish and sculpin all work great anytime there is low visibility conditions. Even
when the water is clear, they often out produce other flies early and late in the day. They
also have a tendency to catch large trout, so don't overlook them.
The best advice we can give you is to check our hatch chart for the time you plan on
fishing the Roaring Fork River and have imitations that match the insects and other food
the period of time calls for. By far the best flies you can obtain to do just that are our
"Perfect Flies". We have specific imitations of everything that exist in the river. They not
only are the most realistic flies you can purchase, they are the most effective flies you can
use. They have been proven to be very effective on this particular river. If you haven't
already done so, we ask you to please give them a try. You will be happy you did.
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Blue-winged Olive Hatch on the Roaring Fork
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