For anglers, few things are more exciting than watching a big trout rise to sip a fly from the surface of the water. During summer hatches on the Gunnison & Taylor Rivers, the bugs can hatch out of the rivers in clouds. The fish go into a feeding frenzy and with the right pattern, a fly will be hammered by any trout in the vicinity. The key to catching these rising fish is identifying the bugs they are after.
Mayflies hatch from spring to autumn (not just in May) in enormous numbers. They have long tails and wings that do not fold flat over the abdomen. Try to match the species, size, color and stage of the bugs you see on the water. Some of the most significant hatches are Blue Wing Olives/ Baetis (BWOs), Green Drakes, and Pale Morning Duns (PMDs).
Caddisflies are a group of insects with aquatic larvae and terrestrial adults. The larvae of many species make protective cases using silk strengthened with gravel, sand, twigs, or other debris. Most adults have short lives during which they do not feed. Hatches occur mostly June to September.
Stonefly hatches are less prolific than mayflies and caddisflies, but they make up for fewer numbers with large size, up to 3 inches. Their nymphs are welcome food year-round and trout sometimes feed selectively on the egg-laying adults as they return to the water. They are most active from mid-April to early July.
Midges are very tiny insects (size 20-24 or smaller) but are extremely abundant. Trout often target their frequent hatches that occur throughout the summer. Their many thousands of species are impossible to sort out, so the basics of size and color are the best way to describe them.
Check with Willowfly Anglers at Three Rivers Resort in Almont, Colorado to identify the bugs that are currently active and where. Go with an expert guide on a walk wade or float trip to learn even more about successfully matching patterns and techniques to hatches. Three Rivers Resort is open year round, offering cabins, vacation homes, and lodge rooms with some on the Taylor River. Private fishing access is available for all resort guests. The resort general store offers a full fly fishing shop, guide service and summer time restaurant.
About the author: Audrey Morris is a professional fly fishing guide for Willowfly Anglers, an Orvis Endorsed Outfitter. She is seen here fishing in the featured cover photo.