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What the swing from a dry year to a wet one means for Colorado fly fishing: An interview with Jason Faerman

It’s no secret that 2019 has been an incredible year for Western snowpack, and that means good things for this summer’s river flow and for fisheries. This great water year comes on the heels of one of the worst years on record for Western rivers and water supplies, which resulted in some rivers in the Colorado River headwaters being closed to fishing, as well as temperature advisories or hoot-owl restrictions being imposed across much of the region.

brendan witt 2019

Brendan Witt

Policy Advisor


Yakoda Supply

Founded by fishermen, Yakoda Supply‘s mission is simple, well designed products that complement and improve your fly fishing experience and leave gas money in your wallet. Jason Faerman is Yakoda Supply’s Director of Operations.

To get a personal perspective on what these wild swings mean for fly-anglers across the West, we sat down earlier this year to ask a few questions of our friend Jason Faerman at Yakoda Supply in Boulder, Colo.:

Brendan Witt:  Let’s start with an easy one. How is the fishing looking in the Rockies right now?

Jason Faerman:  Things are looking great now that all the high country lakes have thawed and runoff is subsiding.

Brendan Witt:  After one of our snowiest years on record, a cool spring delayed snowmelt well into July, with some rivers just reaching peak flow recently. What does such an abundance of water and a cool start to the season mean for fishing opportunities in the months ahead?

Jason Faerman:   Well, after a record winter and late start to summer, we think the late summer and fall fishing will be epic this year. More water means better conditions for the trout and the food sources that they depend on. Honestly, this is just our gut feeling, but it almost feels like the weather trends in Colorado are delayed by 30-45 days behind, which bodes well for a perfect Indian Summer in the Rockies.

Brendan Witt:  What are some of the things you really look forward to on the river in a season like this?

Jason Faerman:  Throwing big hopper patterns to hungry trout always makes us happy – as well as fishing streamers in higher water conditions.  

Brendan Witt:  Last season, the lack of healthy snowpack and the resulting low water supply meant that high river temps threatened fish and nearly resulted in die offs. Some rivers even closed. What did that mean for you and for your business?

Jason Faerman:  When you have poor conditions for trout to thrive in, it’s important for everyone to take a step back and think about what’s good for the fish. As a company, we opted to avoid fishing rivers / creeks during the hottest time of the season. Seeking refuge from the heat, we put on our hiking boots explored / fished our high country lakes. Weather change is a sign of the times, and it’s best to simply adjust to it and go with the patterns – which in turn, helps preserve the fisheries we all love…as the saying goes, don’t love them to death!

Brendan Witt:  These last two years have been a wild contrast. Over your career in the fly fishing industry, have you noticed a change in fishing conditions over the seasons?

Jason Faerman:  Oh, absolutely. Everything is affected by the weather and trout are no exception. Insect life cycles drive trout feeding habits, and when the weather patterns are out of sync, so are the fish. Adjust and adapt to the varied conditions. Taking time to observe fish behavior and key in to what’s happening under the water’s surface can certainly improve your odds of having a good day on the water.

Brendan Witt: What do you think is the most important thing for anglers to know?

Jason Faerman:  That’s a rather subjective question as we could easily talk about a dozen things! When it comes down to it, we all fish for different reasons. But for us, it’s about getting outside and enjoying a friend’s company and the memories that are made during an outing. Honestly, it’s pretty easy to be a responsible angler, and it starts with having respect for the fish and their habitat. If we all act as stewards, the fisheries would be much cleaner for all; think “leave no trace” like we were all taught long ago. Be kind to the trout and use barbless hooks, handle them properly, worry less about getting your Instagram picture, and focus more on a quick and efficient release so that trout can continue to thrive and be enjoyed by all.

As Jason said, “more water means better conditions for the trout and the food sources that they depend on.” While this year has been great for our rivers and water supply, we are a long way from solving our water woes in Colorado and safeguarding the healthy, suitable river flows our fisheries need year after year. Science shows that we are in for a hotter, drier future in years to come. Combined with the projected continued growth of our communities, we need to put in the work now to protect Colorado’s rivers, lakes, and streams to ensure we can enjoy the fishing opportunities we love in the future.

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