On the Fly: Ringers in the riffles

Scott Spooner
On the Fly
A rainbow trout caught from the mid-river section of the Fryingpan River.
Scott Spooner/Special to The Aspen Times

On Thursday, I spent all day on the same section of the Fryingpan. Usually I cover the river at a frenetic pace over the course of the day, catching a few here and there and moving on.

But yesterday something dawned on me. It became most clear as I was blankly looking into the water, thinking about something else entirely. Something subtly moved out in the center of the run. Something that made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. It was time to slow down and start paying attention.

The kicker with fishing hard over the course of a day is that you can miss things. I’m not just talking about fish. You can miss a bear in the tree above you quite easily. I know. Beavers, muskrats and ouzels quietly go about their business all around us out there, usually unnoticed. You can stare at a rhythmically rising fish on the far bank and miss the one only a few feet away.

What I was missing Thursday was not just one big fish but many. What caught me most by surprise was that these fish were mid-river, not up in the “hog pen” below the reservoir. In my favor was the low and clear flow, with a glassy smooth surface helping me see these fish. Not in my favor was the exact same thing, which presented a chess game-like presentation problem.

After a little trial and error, they readily ate the fly, though.

As I wandered about that mile or so of river, it became apparent that the usual suspects I know and love to catch had friends, big friends, over to visit. There are always whispers in fly shops here and everywhere else in the country about big fish roaming around the Fryingpan. Your favorite riffle and run full of medium-sized brown trout one day can hold a few ringers the next, often roaming off their home (sometimes private) turf. Or maybe they were there all along.

I just needed to slow down, take a deep breath and take in my surroundings.

This column is provided by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374.