Fly Fishing Education | Time of Day

Fly Fishing Education | Time of Day


We all know that trout can be fussy. Temperature, light, insect activity, and pressure from other anglers are just a few of the things that can affect an anglers success. A lot of my clients ask me what time of day the fishing is usually the best. While it may matter more to fishermen who only have a limited amount of time they can spend on the water, it is important for all anglers to notice and seek out active feeding times in order to catch more fish.

The answer to this question can be very different depending on the season and the current weather conditions. For example, morning fishing can be great in July and August when water is warm and hundreds of boats are lining up at the ramps each day, but it can  quickly become slow and frustrating in October when the water is cold and the boat ramps are empty. There are a few rules to remember when you are trying to plan for the best hours of the day to fish.


Throughout most of the year, water temperature dictates most of what happens with both the fish we are trying to catch, and the insects we are trying to imitate. During the heat of the summer, fishing can slow down in the hot, sunny afternoons and pick up again later on in the evenings as the water cools back down and bugs begin to hatch again. I have spent many afternoons on the upper Colorado river frustrated between the hours of two and 5 pm in August, which is why I like to start my Full Day Floats earlier that time of year in order to spend more time fishing while the fishing is good.  


If insects are hatching and making themselves vulnerable  to trout, chances are the trout are moving and feeding on them, making them vulnerable to fishermen. A good hatch  hardly ever lasts all day long, and different species hatch at different times during the day. This is why it is so important for fishermen to be able to anticipate their emergence, and position themselves in the right place at the right time. A good way to do this is to either fish every day, or get in touch with someone who does. Here at fishing reports are updated regularly by senior guides who actually experience current conditions daily.


In an untouched fishery, trout and insects are totally ruled by natural condition changes. Unless you are on your way to Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula, you will have to deal with fish that are affected by other anglers and boats. Fortunately for us, fishing pressure does not matter most of the year here in Colorado, but during the busy months of July and August, it is something to consider. If you are planning on floating the Roaring Fork in mid July, you should anticipate crowds and try to get an early start. The first handful of boats typically do much better than the rest.

If you are visiting Eagle County from out of town, the best thing to do is book a guided half or full day trip with one of the professional guides here at Vail Valley Anglers. It is a good idea to do a little research first. Experienced customers often request their favorite guide and chat with them the day before the trip about what time the fishing is best. Guides love this because it can help us avoid crowds, plan for hatches, and get a better idea of what each customer wants out of the experience.

Andy “Otter” Smith, Guide and Content Writer