On the fly: The Fryingpan ‘Flats’
November 29, 2011
BASALT – Lately, I’ve been spending the majority of my free time fishing the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers. The fishing has been so good on these two fisheries that I haven’t been able to force myself to drive up the Fryingpan River despite knowing full well how amazing that this river fishes throughout fall and winter. With leftover turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing packed into my cooler, I ventured up the Fryingpan in hopes of locating some of rivers famously large fish.
My day started out by driving up near the dam to a portion of the river dubbed “The Flats.” This area is shallow, with very little in the way of structure and deviations, hence the name, which makes for some of the best sight fishing for trout on the planet. You literally get to see all of the fish that you’re casting to, which for most anglers is a huge bonus. Seeing the fish react to your fly in shallow water – the take – is what fly fishing is all about to me.
On brisk mornings I like to fish The Flats for the simple fact that sunlight beats on this stretch of water first thing in the morning. Being warm and comfortable at this time of year is as much a part of my success as having the right fly. A few other anglers were around but no one seemed to be catching anything.
Lesson No. 1: read the water and find the fish. Sometimes it pays off to simply study the water and first search for fish prior to ever making a cast. I spotted a large rainbow, made a cast to him, and quickly landed my first trout of the day. Lesson No. 2: make your first cast count.
Knowing that most anglers up here were fishing with egg and mysis shrimp patterns, I instead opted to fish various midge larva and pupae patterns. The diminutive insects are the most widely available form of food to the fish throughout late fall and winter. Lesson No. 3: sometimes it pays off to show the fish something different. I stroked a few more fish and then drove back down the river as the sun began to set, in hopes of finding one last little piece of water that had sunlight left on it.
Lesson No. 4: never give up.