The Caddis Hatch, April 10, 2015.
On the Rio Grande, the caddis is primarily a Spring hatch, and is occurring now. This hatch often comes off in conjunction with high and discolored water, which makes it hard or impossible to fish for trout using dry flies imitative of the caddis, since the trout will not be coming to the surface through all that murky water. This year, the flows got lowered abruptly on April 1, as the upstream farmers in Colorado began their irrigation diversions. From a high of 1500 cfs in March, the water was lowered to the current 468 cfs. While still off-color, the trout can see caddis on the surface in the near-shore shallower water.
Two days ago I saw no rising fish, nor could I get a bite on caddis wet fly imitations. Yesterday was a different story. I went to my favorite piece of shoreline, where past experience has taught me that the trout lie close to and under the overhanging banks, in water usually not over 18″ deep. Bingo! My hunch was correct, and in about 2 hours time I hooked at least 12 fish. I used Elk Hair caddis flies in a range of sizes, from #18 to #12. Caddis of different sizes were on the water, and the trout appeared eager to eat.
The caddis were a bust last year, and I was very hopeful for this year. While full of brown trout, the Rio Grande is a very finicky river. The browns often disdain to feed, a condition my friend John Lopez refers to as “lockjaw”. But they almost always do feed on a good hatch, so dry fly fishing for them at those times may be the surest way to catch brown trout on the Rio. It certainly was yesterday, and catching trout on dry flies is, for me, the very most satisfying kind of fishing I know.
Here’s a few of the trout I caught, with the biggest at about 15″. All were released unharmed.