Looking back over my fishing log for the last 10 years, I was not surprised to see that I have made it to the river on St Patrick’s Day for five of those years. Three other years, I was there the day before or the day after. Mid-March is simply a wonderful month to fish in spite of deep snow banks and, many times, blowing snow weather.
The rainbows have commenced the spawn; they don’t care about the weather. My favorite waters, the Yampa and Colorado, usually break open about the first of March. Temps can be around 15 degrees up to 40 degrees. So, expect to be de-icing the eyelets on your rod. Another modest problem to work through is the slush ice coming down the river. My experience is that it is usually an AM problem clearing up as the day progresses.
As to what the Rainbows prefer to eat, table fare for them is a moving target. My notes in my log seem to have a common theme about midges. On most trips, midges can bee seen on the water in the morning, becoming very profuse in the afternoon. You will also see them crawling around on the snow banks. Affectionately, many call them “snow flies”. Very small, like size 20 or 22, midge patterns will work wonders when these bugs are coming off the water. Larger patterns that have also produced well have been eggs in almost any color, including San Juan Worms, Prince Nymphs and Flashback Pheasant Tails. If I am doing well on a given fly, I stay with it. Why mess up a good thing by flirting from one pattern to another?
There are many additional events going on at the river around this time of year. I never tire of watching the waterfowl that have paired up and have begun the process of having a family. Mallard drakes and hens are abundant. Also seen are pairs of redheads and wood ducks. Especially delightful is the scolding that you get from a pair of Canadian Geese when you encroach into their territory. On both the Yampa and Colorado, bald eagles will also come down the river checking you out.
Check out these pictures of my two sons-in-law and myself that validate the size of Rainbows that can be caught. These fish measure between 20 and 25 inches. So, what are you waiting
for? Forget the weather and get in the river!