On the fly: Good as it’s ever been | AspenTimes.com

On the fly: Good as it’s ever been

Kirk Webb
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT – Winter might not be officially here yet, but the recent cold weather surely makes it feel as though it is. Believe it or not, the fishing is still going strong, especially on the Fryingpan River. In fact, I recently had one of best days on the river in nearly 15 years.

I first began fishing the Fryingpan River in 1992. Back in those days, big fish were seemingly abundant everywhere and I could count on having at least a few shots at big shot fish every day I spent on the river. Mysis shrimp spilled from the dam in profuse numbers and fish quickly grew to sizes thought unimaginable. For years, the river housed some of the largest trout in not only the country, but in the world. Anglers flocked from across the globe in hopes of catching these behemoth fish.

In the past 10 years or so, the number of rainbow trout over five pounds has rapidly diminished from the river for a variety of reasons. Poaching, poor fish handling and reviving, whirling disease and other factors have all contributed to this decline.

Recent stockings of Hofer strain rainbow trout over the past few years are bringing the river back to its glory days. This unique strain is resistant to whirling disease and spawns in the fall when water conditions are more stable and ideal. The Colorado River strain of rainbow trout, once the most commonly stocked trout in the Roaring Fork Valley, is a spring spawning trout which rarely spawned successfully due to the varying water conditions present during that time of year.

This past Monday, a co-worker and I had a late breakfast in hopes of letting things warm up a bit before we headed up the river. The temperature stayed in the single digits and never warmed. Not an angler could be found on the entire river. I’m not the type of guy that often brags but we caught and released several fish between 3 and 10 pounds, many of them being Hofer strain rainbows . Not only that, they were hungry and it wasn’t that hard to get them to eat. I felt like I was a kid again. The days of old are a bunch of bull as the fishing is as good now as it has ever been. Bundle up and go stick a Fryingpan piggy this winter.

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