Time: 1:00PM – 5:00PM
Location: Around mile marker 13, below first bridge after dam spillway
Fish Landed: 15
Jane’s birthday occurred on Friday of Labor Day weekend this year, and she ordered tickets for the Aspen Snowmass Jazz Festival at Snowmass ski area. The headline band that we both love was Wilco. I earned the job of driving to the Roaring Fork valley on Thursday and snagging a campsite for the weekend. I planned to fish on Thursday and Friday morning, and then we would attend the concert Friday, hike on Saturday and drive back to Denver on Sunday.
I got off to a reasonably early start by 9:10AM and arrived at the pullout less than a mile below Ruedi Dam at around12:30PM. I chose to fish where Jeff Shafer and I began in August 2009. It was very sunny and bright when I entered the river, and the flows seemed high. The number of fishermen seemed to be down a bit, so I was concerned that fishing would be poor. Well I didn’t need to be worried. I began fishing a yellow Letort hopper trailing a beadhead hares ear, and suffered several refusals to the hopper. But this didn’t last long before I began to notice mayflies on the water. Consistent with last summer, the first mayflies to appear were red quills. These mayflies are a size 14-16 with a maroon color abdomen with medium olive rib. The fish were having none of my red-olive comparadun, but after a bit of frustration, I switched to the light gray comparadun. This may have coincided with the start of PMD’s, but it worked. I landed four trout in the lower portion of the area where the stream gently flows toward the roadside bank. I then moved to the upper portion of the area, and landed another five on the light gray comparadun.
While this was going on, green drakes began to pop and by 2PM they were emerging at a pretty rapid rate. Surely the fish must switch to these large morsels. I clipped off my productive light gray comparadun and tied on a green drake comparadun made with dark olive sparkle yarn. I worked the juicy riffles and pools for the next hour or so during the dense green drake hatch and managed to land three fish. I switched among three different colors of comparaduns, but I was dissatisfied with the productivity of my flies in spite of duping three fish. The natural duns were fluttering and tumbling on the surface of the water and appeared to be much larger than my comparaduns. I don’t know whether it was due to their actual size being larger or the constant motion portrayed more mass.
The period between 1:30 and 3:30 was intense with red quills, green drakes and PMD’s overlapping. In addition to the variety of insects on the water, the wind would gust from time to time making the atmosphere even more chaotic.
When the drakes thinned out at around 3-3:30PM, I switched to a size 16 sulfur comparadun that I tied for Pennsylvania, and this produced three additional trout. The first one was landed at the very top of the stretch I fished in a big pool behind a large midstream boulder. The water above the boulder was fast and unattractive, so I exited the stream and hiked back down the road beyond the minivan to the area that receives heavy pressure from guides and their clients. By this time late in the afternoon, the guides departed, and I pretty much owned the shallow wide riffles where I’ve always caught fish. In this area I landed two eleven inch rainbows that tipped up and sucked in the sulfur comparadun.
By 5PM insect activity died back, and I decided to drive up the road to Little Maud campground and secure a campsite for the busy weekend ahead. There were quite a few sites unoccupied, so I snagged number 6 and put up the tent and made dinner.