On the fly: Offseason delight

Kirk Webb
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Kirk WebbA 5-pound rainbow finds the net on the Fryingpan River above Basalt earlier this week.

BASALT – As of late, anglers have been few and far between on the normally bustling Fryingpan River. Believe it or not, May is the second slowest month of the year in terms of fishing pressure.

As hard as it to believe, there are more fishermen spread out along the river in December and January than there are in May. Don’t let this fact fool you, though, as the fishing is pretty incredible right now. I can personally attest to that.

While driving along the 14-mile length of river between downtown Basalt and Ruedi Reservoir recently, I counted only 10 anglers, half of whom were strung out in the Toilet Bowl near the dam. With water flows hovering around 100 cubic feet per second, the fishing opportunities for anglers are supurb. Wading is easy and safe at these levels and the dry fly fishing has been sensational.

Good midge and blue-wing olive hatches are the norm along the river from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Generally speaking, look for fish to focus on midges during the first half of that time frame while the back half of that period is more blue-wing olive-oriented. With the low and clear water, dry-fly fishers will still want to utilize light tippets of 7x fluorocarbon. Even when nymph fishing, I still prefer to use 6x tippets to attach my first fly and 7x tippet to connect my dropper or second fly.

When dry-fly fishing on the Fryingpan, you’ll want to cast downstream to the rising fish. This will allow the fish to see your fly first, instead of fly line, leader, tippet and then your fly. This trick especially comes into play when working over smart or pressured fish. The heaviest hatches have been taking place along the middle and upper river, from mile markers 8 to 12.

The beauty of fishing the river at these flows and at this time of year is the abundance of insects, the lack of other anglers, and the low flows that provide amazing sight fishing opportunities. Even though the month of May is considered offseason by locals, the fishing is far from being off. In fact, this is the single best time of year to experience the quality fishing with a minimum of crowds. Get outside and wade into our Gold Medal waters for the fishing experience of a lifetime.


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