On the Fly: Oh, the things you’ll see fishing Fryingpan River

Scott Spooner
On the Fly
Fishing the Fryingpan River, you'll never know who or what you'll see on the river and in the valley.
Beck Brooks / Courtesy photo

When you fish, live and work on the Fryingpan River, you get to see plenty of cool stuff. The river is constant yet somehow always changing, without fail. Anyone who says they know a particular river like the back of their hand is a bit full of it, in my opinion. Rocks and logs move. Flows and hatches can be enigmatic, especially during wildly variant “water years.” Your favorite pool from last summer might have filled in with silt and rocks. The only constant on a river (or life, for that matter) is change.

Bighorn sheep will block the road and dare you to drive around them. You’ll encounter bicyclists riding four-abreast on blind curves. Nesting pairs of bald eagles are always scanning for an easy meal, and the occasional osprey or heron you’ll inevitably see are better at fishing than we are. Driving at night (or the middle of the day) might give you a glimpse of elusive mountain lions and black bears.

Ouzels quietly go about their business, dipping in and out of the frigid water foraging the multitude of aquatic insects. Swallows silently swoop and dive when insect hatches are strong, plucking mayflies right off the water and expertly out of the air. Clouds of freshly hatched midges, blue winged olives, pale morning duns, green drakes, caddis and craneflies are almost ever-present from spring until fall around here, keeping anglers and birds busy chasing them around.

Bikini-clad coeds can be found sunning on Strawberry Rock. Khaki-clad septuagenarians fish alongside flat-brimmed teenage trout bums. Guides and clients stare intently at rising fish for hours, grumbling as struggling anglers inch closer and closer, attempting to pick up some fishing juju via osmosis. Anyone can fish on the Pan, though, and we all enjoy watching people connect the dots with our local trout after some trial and error.

You see something new every day on the Fryingpan. I hope this summer treats you well, the water stays cold and plentiful, and lasting memories are made!

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