Happy Mother’s Day.
Most anglers probably already know that there is no better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than to ditch the family for a trip to the Arkansas River Valley and the most famous early season hatch in Colorado – the Mother’s Day caddis hatch. (Kidding, bring mom too if she likes beautiful scenery and a clear river.)
The caddis are already moving upstream and reports from the area indicate that the fishing is good… and popular. Now, I can already hear the excuses of why you wouldn’t take the trip over Monarch Pass to stand in one of the only clear running rivers in Colorado:
“It will be busy with Front Range weekend warriors.”
Or, “That valley is too windy to fish this time of year.”
Or, “I am getting too close to the State Pen in Canon City.”
Well, all of these statements are, more or less, true. But despite all of these variables, the fact remains that the caddis are in the air and now is the time to head into that valley for a day on the water. Yes, you will be elbow to elbow with other oversized neoprene-clad men, but that is better than what will soon come. Boater season is on the horizon.
The window is small. After the caddis pass through and the weather warms up, the colleges will be releasing the boating nation and the river will be taken over. Who do you prefer to fish with on the Arkansas: paddlers or other anglers?
The choice is obvious. At least there is a chance that you might be able bum Copenhagen from a fisherman. (Boaters seem to prefer Skoal. Yech.) There are other reasons, but we won’t get into that now.
Anyways, back to the fishing. Get in the car and head over to the Ark Valley. Drive north toward Leadville until you start to splatter caddis all over your windshield – an instant sign you have reached your fishing destination.
You can keep driving upstream of the hatch for bigger browns on the banks, but you also get bigger crowds.
Want more fish, no matter the size (and maybe less crowded water)? Fish just downstream of the hatch as the bigger browns have moved back into their deep holes, allowing the smaller browns to get in the feeding lines for a taste of a late-hatching caddis, which is hopefully your fly. Put on a WD40 as a dropper about five inches below the caddis or maybe even a red midge.
If the banks are crowded with fishermen, take a deep breath, look around at the Collegiate peaks and enjoy the classic Colorado scene that is a surefire remedy for cabin-fevered fisherman across the state.