On the fly: Gone catching

Kirk Webb
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
Danny FrankCooper Anderson releases a Fryingpan River rainbow, caught on a midge dry fly.

BASALT – Over the past eight weeks, I’ve predominately been fishing along the Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers. Fishing, or should I say the catching, has been very good as we’re now well underway into our heralded “Fifth Season.” It took a cold front with daily high temperatures never climbing over freezing for me to head back up to the venerable Fryingpan River.

I recently purchased a new three-weight fly rod and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to break it in properly – on the flat-water slicks above mile marker 4 casting to rising fish-eating midges. I cast my new rod slowly and deliberately, trying to make it a natural extension of my body and arm. To up the ante, I chose a rising fish on the far bank as my target. I needed to execute a relatively long, 50-foot cast across the main current with a steady side wind to get the proper drift needed.

In a way, it’s kind of like doing your first burnout in your first car.

After watching my flies bob along on the water’s surface for a few feet, a big, green-and-black-colored trout head poked cleanly up through the surface where we briefly locked eyes, made nonverbal communication with each, and I watched him slowly eat my fly.

When it’s too cold for the freestone rivers to fish well, you can always count on the Fryingpan River to produce. I don’t stop fishing on the cold days. I just go to water that I know will be warm and productive.

With the recent time change, hatches are beginning an hour later. There’s no need to be out there at the crack of dawn at this time of year. I arrived on the river around noon and fished midge dry flies until the hatch stopped at 6 p.m. I know of few trout rivers at this time of year where anglers can fish dry flies to rising trout for seemingly hours on end.

The keys to success when dry-fly fishing the Pan include the use of downstream drifts, 7x fluorocarbon tippets and relatively large (No. 18-22) midge surface emerger patterns like a Bill’s midge emerger or Morgan’s para midge. Overcast days yield the heaviest hatches, while seeking out shaded areas during bright and sunny days will give anglers their best chance for rising fish. Enjoy!

“On the fly” is provided weekly by the staff members of Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt.