Tag Archives: Callibaetis

Here We Go Again

I don’t get to fish often.  As with my contemporaries, work and family take priority at this time in life.  To that point, when I do fish, I like to venture to spots that put the odds of success in my favor.  Colorado fly fishing in the summer means Spinney Mountain Reservoir, callibaetis nymphs and a Gold Medal fishery. Timing the trip is critical, as you need to be certain that the hatch is actually coming off. If Poxybacks and Flashback Hare’s ears are being purchased in mass at local fly shops, I go ahead and schedule a day off from the job.  In late June of 2015, I was told by some reliable friends who fish the lake regularly that they spotted trout rolling close to shore.

I arrived at Brad’s house at 5 am, and we immediately hit the road.  It would be the first time Brad had fished this area in more than 25 years of living in Colorado.  The wet weather in the Rockies during the spring and early summer made the rivers uniquely high and fast.  The waters flowing into Spinney were so heavy that the entire landscape has changed.  Areas that had produced in prior years were no longer accessible for wading fisherman.  Weed lines that hold the hatching callibaetis nymphs weren’t visible.  I started to succumb to a bit of doubt as things were not as they once were.  Adapting to the situation, Brad and I worked our way along the eastern shoreline, scanning the relatively calm water for porpoising fish.  While there was no visible action, Brad located a deep drop just off a point.  There was milfoil present, so we decided to rig up and start fishing. It took a while, but a fish boiled about 30 yards to my left.  Once in range, I laid a cast in the general vicinity of where I witnessed the feeding fish.  I use an Amy’s Ant as my indicator, and hang a #10 Flashback Hare’s Ear about four feet beneath the dry.  My initial twitch caused a violent strike, as the trout attacked the nymph.  A weak hook-set while the fish darted at me, had me scrambling to recover line.  The trout worked his way to my left, then spit the hook after an impressive acrobatic leap.  Disappointed at my performance, I checked my flies then started to make casts in and around the closest weed line.  It did not take long for the next fish to slam my callibaetis imitation, and move hard to my right.  The fight lasted a bit longer than anticipated, as the trout was all of 23” and powerful.  Fired up and ready for more action, I waded into deeper water angling toward a visible clump of weeds.   Once my Ant landed I gave two slight twitches, and the Hydros HD line began screaming toward me.  I stripped vigorously and pumped my rod until I felt weight on my line.  She abruptly turned and sped to the north when her head grazed my Orvis River Guard Brogue boots.  Having witnessed the massive fish up close, I felt real pressure to land the trout.  It took another 5 minutes to successfully net the 6lb fish.  She was easily the largest bow I had ever landed at Spinney.

I hooked and landed 4 more impressive trout over the next few hours.  One of my last fish of the day slurped the Amy’s Ant just a few feet from my position in the water.  I watched a black head subtly surface, grab and make off with the floating fly.  It was the most thrilling take in my over 8 years of fly fishing.  The imagery of the experience will always be emblazoned in my mind.

Spinney 2015 Video


Reel Fly Rod Waders Line Pack Camera
Mirage Helios 2 Silver Sonic Hydros HD Safe Passage Intova


Callibaetis = Filet Mignon for a Colorado Rainbow Trout

English: Rainbow trout
English: Rainbow trout (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Callibaetis mayflies, among the largest in the Baetidae family, reside only in slow or still water. The most important species is Callibaetis ferrugineus, which is found across the country but produces its best hatches in the West.

On July 28th, I found out first hand and up close what a callibaetis hatch means to a Colorado rainbow trout – bon appétit.

After a prolonged hike through mosquito infested marsh land, my buddies and I arrived at a section of Spinney Mountain Reservoir that I had never fished.  The early morning cloud cover had burned off, and the temperature rose to an uncomfortable 85 degrees.   The air was still (rare for Spinney) so the water was like glass.  As we waded to the weed-line, backs of large rainbow trout began to emerge from the depths of the lake.  My heart was racing as we fanned out in order to cover the most water.  Waiting for any movement within casting distance, I began to strip fly line in anticipation of additional trout slurping.   My impatience forced me to cast my #12 grey flashback hare’s ear toward the middle of the lake.  Two slight twitches, then BANG, a 20 inch bow hit the fly and took instant air.  Three jumps later he sped laterally, stripping my fly line down to the backing.  The fight continued for about 10 minutes, ending in the netting of the fantastic fish.

The callibaetis hatch lasted over 2 hours, and the trout disappeared as fast as they arrived.  Between the three of us, we landed over 20 fish, all between 18 and 22 inches long.  What an amazing day in Colorado.


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