100 Best: Fryingpan River
Location: Central Colorado
Type of stream: Tailwater
Angling methods: Fly, spinning
Species: Rainbows, Browns
Access: Easy to moderate
Supporting Services: Basalt, Aspen
Short take: Bring your five weight
Handicapped Access: Yes
Closest TU Chapter: Ferdinand Hayden
Headed to the Aspen Institute think-tank for a conference? Don’t forget your five-weight. Twenty minutes down the road at Basalt, the Fryingpan River joins Roaring Fork from the southeast. The 14 miles up the Pan to Ruedi Dam is one of Colorado’s ten Gold Medal Streams. That’s where, the state’s fisheries biologists believe chances are best for catching trophy trout, in this case rainbows. However browns are the river’s dominant trout. Eight public access sites open eight miles of river to public fishing.
For the most part, the Fryingpan flows through a relatively narrow incised valley. The south bank is generally mountainous with flats and noses of ridges along the north bank. The Pan is easily wadeable with flows averaging about 100 cfs except during May run-off when they may reach three times that.
The river is both a dry fly and nymph fisher’s dream. Green drakes, which start about the 4th of July and continue for the next 10 days, might be considered the signature hatch on the Frying Pan. Blue-winged olives come off from mid-March through mid-May and again from early September into early November. Caddis are not quite as prolific as on the neighboring Roaring Fork, but they are the primary insect of summer. July and August also sees hatches of little yellow stoneflies. Midges hatch all year long. Streamers are not overly popular on this river, but nymphs including scuds, Gold-ribbed hare’s ear, muskrat, renegade, pheasant tail and green caddis arvae are very effective. The Frying Pan fishes quite well in winter.