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.
At the end of April, flows on the Frying Pan saw a meaningful bump allowing trout to spread out from their winter/early spring lies. That being said, flows remain on the lower end of normal, as it relates to the historical average for this time of year. Based on precedent, flows should increase gradually over the next few months so you'll need to adjust your approach accordingly. As it stands, trout continue to favor the soft water, but are becoming increasingly prone to moving into the faster runs, riffles, seams and tailouts to feed. Expect this trend to continue over the next few weeks, but if flows rise in a meaningful fashion, it is likely that trout will seek refuge along the banks and in the slack water. Regardless, you really can't go wrong when it comes to your approach. While nymphing will continue to produce the most consistent results, dry fly and dry dropper rigs are high effective as well, especially during the hatch. As far as hatches go, expect to see midges sporadically throughout the day starting the early morning, followed by BWOs and caddis in the late morning and afternoon. When nymphing, go with moderate sized searchers/attractors at the lead followed by one or more smaller midge, baetis or caddis lava/pupa. As far as lead flies go, a Pat's Rubber Legs, Woven Stonefly Nymph, San Juan Worm, Mysis Shrimp, Electric Caddis or Egg pattern are great options. Otherwise, Top Secrets, Mercury Black Beauties, RS2s, JuJu Baeits, Darth Baetis or Sparkle Pupa will make for great trailer patterns. When fishing dries, a Parachute Adams, Hi-vis BWO Comparadun, Brook's Sprout BWO, Elk Hair Caddis or Cluster Midge will be a good place to start.
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.