Spring fly fishing Colorado can throw a lot of variations, including river quality and bug life, at anglers.
“If you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes,” goes the old adage for Colorado. It’s true, the atmosphere can go from calm to calamitous and back again in a matter of minutes. Thunderstorms rolling in on bright summer days or unseasonable snows in late spring are really just the norm. As fly fishermen and women, we take keen interest in the weather. Though largely unpredictable, as mentioned, we can look at year over year cycles to form an educated guess as to how overall conditions should be. Perhaps easier to anticipate is the bug life in and around the rivers.
Spring Fly Fishing Colorado
Spring fly fishing in Colorado is something we approach with no level of certainty as March, April, and May often yield a variety of water conditions. Most of March and some of April are great fishing months while the rivers are still at a wadeable stage before runoff begins at the end of April or early May.
There’s nothing worse than a long drive then a tough hike fueled by anticipation only to walk up on a muddy, unfishable river. Likewise, there’s nothing better than watching risers in a pool on a stream that should be in flood stage.
It’s spring. And sometimes hard to tell. That’s why local knowledge and gathering firsthand information are always important components for any outdoor pursuit, especially fly fishing.
Understanding river conditions and what causes the different variations you’ll see throughout the year will help you forecast your fishing trips. Simply having an idea on water quality as you plan can spare some heartache and headache.
Rivers, especially western rivers, are controlled by several natural causes including snow pack and temperature. And, for the most part, you can forecast year to year about when they’ll reach flood stage and recede back to a wadeable level.
For example, where you’ll experience great winter fishing in the middle of March, you’re liable to find the same river at flood stage (think rapids) just a few weeks later in April. Check a river’s status by visiting the United States Geological Survey (USGS) website, stopping in a fly shop, or talking to us about when to book a day fishing.
Spring is the season of rebirth. Both flora and fauna emerge from hibernation. Trout come out of their dormancy. As do a lot of bugs that have been gestating under a rock at the bottom of a river. As trout regain their appetites, one of the first things they’re going to find to eat are midge larvae.
Trout do the majority of their feeding underwater. Midges hatch nearly year-round. So in the spring, while fish are still holding in deep pools, fish 18-22 sized midges around the substrate (bottom) of the river. Don’t be shy about adding a split shot to the line in order to help you reach the bottom.
Nymphs also fish well in the spring. Again, being that trout are mostly feeding at the bottom half of the river, you want a fly such as a beadhead nymph that will get down there among them. Prince nymphs typically work well in the spring. As do pheasant tails, mayflies, and turds (a stonefly imitation).
Know the game before you go. While spring can yield some great days on the water, it can also cause a lot of disappointment for those who show up to a river that’s heading into flood stage. If you have questions, give us a call or check any of the USGS River Gauges on our properties pages. We can give you a firsthand report as to what local rivers are doing and help you schedule a time to fly fish Colorado when conditions are optimal for a good day on the river.