On the fly: Don’t forget the Fryingpan
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
BASALT – The Roaring Fork River has been receiving all of the attention lately, as anglers from across the country pour into the valley in hopes of fishing our renowned green drake mayfly hatch. The fishing has been so above and beyond good that the usually busy Fryingpan River has been uncharacteristically devoid of crowds.
Recently, the Bureau of Reclamation increased water flows out of Ruedi Reservoir to 180 cubic feet per second, which is up from 110 cfs. This increase in water flow on the Fryingpan greatly benefits the fishery for a number of reasons. For starters, the fish are now widespread throughout the river as the fish now have more places to hide and call home. Higher water flows put less stress on the fish, which often translates to better and more improved fishing. Additionally, more water means more places and areas for anglers to fish and spread out.
Ruedi Reservoir filled to nearly 90 percent of capacity this spring, which means that the doom and gloom of drought conditions across the West will not affect the Fryingpan River. Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of the water flow increase is that the Fryingpan also acts as a swamp cooler for the warmer waters of the Roaring Fork below Basalt, where the Fryingpan flows into the Fork. This helps regulate and cool the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers.
The Fryingpan, like most tailwaters, is often known as being a technical, small-fly fishery. This all changes at the beginning of July as good numbers of larger mayfly species such as pale morning duns and green drakes begin to hatch. The underfished four to six miles of the Fryingpan River above Basalt sees the first of these hatches. Afternoons yield solid hatches, plenty of rising fish and little or no fishing pressure. For whatever reason, people seem to be under the impression that all of the fish in the river live immediately below the dam. At this time of year, the lower river in my opinion is the hot spot for fly anglers.
Evenings are a special time of day along this stretch of river. Rusty spinner falls and green drake hatches rank as the two biggest highlights. This is hands down my favorite time of day to fish. The weather and heat are much more manageable, fishing pressure is lighter, and seemingly all of the fish in the river are rising on the surface. One thing’s for certain – the Fryingpan River will fish extremely well all summer long.
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