Sorry to bug you, but where’s the fish?
SUMMIT COUNTY – Local anglers are giving local trout many options for their taste buds this time of year. When the bugs are out, the fish are biting, and fly-fishing is fruitful in July for those who know bugs.
“When there’s more bugs out, it makes it a little harder to pick the right fly,” said Zeke Hersch, owner of Blue River Anglers in Breckenridge and the new shop in Copper Mountain. “Right now, we have a lot of caddis (flies) hatching and still some good stone flies. The grasshoppers are starting. There’s lots of bug activity, but the fish are eating, and you catch them when they’re feeding. It’s been summer for a while, but it’s just warmed up, so (the fish) are pretty aggressive. You don’t have to match the hatch so much. We use what is called a tractor pattern.”
A tractor pattern helps anglers find which color and size of fly to use.
The patterns change weekly, but mayflies, caddis flies and stone flies are hatching throughout local fishing holes – the Blue, Colorado, Platte, Eagle and Arkansas rivers – which are home to cutthroat, brown and brook trout. The Blue is also the exotic habitat of large, rainbow trout, which feed on mysis shrimp.
“As the weather is warmer, you see the bulk of the hatches in the summer time and in the fall,” said Trapper Rudd, owner of Cutthroat Anglers in Silverthorne. “We can get into what we call a compound hatch – where you have multiple species hatching at once, and it’s kind of hard to figure out what they eat.”
Added Cutthroat guide Hagen Lyle: “You have one fish eating one species and only that one while another one is eating everything and a third is eating another species.”
As if finding the right kind of species of fly isn’t complicated enough during hatch season, anglers also have to take note of what the fish’s tastes are for various stages of fly life.
“They may feed on one distinct life cycle of that one particular insect,” Rudd said. “The variables grow exponentially. (The fish) become very selective. They’re definitely not colorblind.”
According to the Division of Wildlife weekly fishing report, dry flies are the hot item at the moment, including green drakes, pale morning duns and caddis.
In addition to an ample selection of bugs this time of year, local rivers have something they were lacking last summer … water.
“Last year was a bad year for water,” Hersch said. “This year, we have water and there’s been some nice fish. We caught some real nice rainbows on the Colorado – a couple 18-inchers. Every place fishes a little differently.”
Several anglers in Summit County offer half-day wade trips, starting around $150. Most outfitters employ a catch-and-release policy on their trips.
“You get people that think they might get something to eat with the deal,” said Jackson Streit, owner of Mountain Angler in Breckenridge. “We basically tell them, “We catch thousands of fish every year, and there wouldn’t be any left if everyone took one home. The best place to get trout for dinner is at the super market.'”
Regardless of how proficient visiting anglers might be, or restless to catch a bite to take home, even the most well-rounded fisherman can benefit from a guided trip.
“If nothing else, you’re going to learn some of the better spots,” Streit said. “You’ll see a lot of territory when you’re out with a guide. At the very least, go see your local fly shop to pick up the local patterns. Everyone’s catching fish right now, even the beginners.”
Most local fly shops offer casting clinics for all ability levels. Cutthroat Anglers offers free casting clinics at 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, but space is limited, so reservations are required.
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