Note: This report is a part of the FlyCast Lite reporting program and is updated seasonally or in the event of substantial changes that alter fly fishing tactics. FlyCast Lite reports are intended to give anglers a high level overview on seasonal conditions and general fishing tactics.
Fishing on the Fryingpan is great this time of year. With spring comes higher flows, mild temps and increased bug life. After several month's of sustained low flows, water levels have risen substantially and trout are spreading out. In times of dramatic increases in flow, expect to see water clarity decrease until it has had time to settle. While productivity will slow down initially with a bump in flow, trout will resume feeding at normal rates shortly after. Nymphing continues to be the most effective mode of fishing. However, we're seeing increased surface action and actively rising trout with consistent midge and BWO hatch activity. When nymphing, lead with bigger bugs like stonefly larva, leeches, caddis larva, worms or mysis shrimp. Pat's Rubber Legs, Barr's Tungstones, Mini Leeches, San Juan Worms and Mayer's Mysis are all great options right now. Trail any of the aforementioned lead flies with one or more smaller midge or baetis larva/pupa. In times of higher flow, trout will spread out, but seek relief in the soft water along banks and in areas with structure. Depth is crucial. Focus on the deepest water columns in the early hours and as the day progresses, lighten the load and fish the mid to upper columns. Midges and BWOs are the most prevalent food source right now, but be on the lookout for the Mother's Day Caddis hatch. If you see actively rising trout, rig up a dry or dry dropper and focus on the soft water where trout are looking up.
The Fryingpan, often referred to as the “Pan”, originates east of Aspen in the Hunter Fryingpan Wilderness and flows northwest to Ruedi Reservoir. Below Reudi, which was dammed in the late 60’s, the river flows west another 14 miles before converging with the Roaring Fork in Basalt. This tailwater section was given Gold Medal status and is arguably the most heavily fished as it holds some of the state’s biggest trout. For the sake of this FlyCast report, the tailwater section below Ruedi will be the focus of this report. Here you’ll find a plethora of beefy browns and rainbows as well as some cutthroats and brookies.
This incredible tailwater offers year round fishing and is particularly productive during the summer and fall as it experiences a variety of prolific hatches and amazing dry fly fishing. The green drake hatch, which occurs in the late summer/early fall, is highly sought after, but does attract a fair amount of anglers. As such, be prepared for crowded water. Otherwise, you’ll find midges year round as well as Caddis and BWOs in the summer and fall. Unlike many tailwaters in Colorado, Reudi Reservoir releases a plethora of mysis shrimp into the Frying Pan. As a result, mysis shrimp are a major part of the trout’s diet. While it is friendly to anglers of all skill sets, tailwaters in general can be fickle, requiring you to be at the top of your game. Trout here see countless imitation flies on a daily basis and will look the other way if your presentation and flies aren’t just right. Traditional nymphing produces the most consistent results. However, unlike many tailwaters in Colorado, Ruedi releases a plethora of mysis shrimp from the dam.
In general, when fishing a tailwater like the Frying Pan, the closer to the dam you get the better as food sources are more abundant and so are the trout. That being said, this is no secret and you’ll find yourself among a number of other anglers dead set on landing their personal best trout. If the water directly below the dam is too crowded, don’t be afraid to explore further southeast toward Thomasville and Norrie or further toward Basalt.