The Fryingpan River, located northwest of central Colorado,
is well known as a tremendous tail-water fishery. The
river is fished mostly below Ruedi Reservoir Dam which,
constructed in 1968, has made the fishery in to what
it is today. The Fryingpan is a cold and clear river
with abundant hatches, approximately 14 miles of controlled
flow, huge trout and very consistent fishing. Much of
the river is protected with catch-and-release fishing,
which has also helped to maintain the fishery. Be sure
to check the special
regulations before venturing out.
Born near the continental divide just northwest of
towering Mount Elbert, which stands at 14,433 feet,
The Fryingpan flows northwest towards the town of Meredith.
Although the best fishing is found mainly below Ruedi
Reservoir this area can be accessed and fished from
Route 4 and Fryingpan Road. The river above Ruedi Reservoir
is made up mostly of pocket water with a few runs and
pools along the way. From Meredith the Fryingpan flows
nearly due west through Ruedi Reservoir and eventually
to the town of Basalt where it meets the Roaring Fork.
Below Ruedi Reservoir the tail-water fishery is born.
This tail-water section averages from 40-80 wide for
most of its length. Some areas many tighten up while
other areas widen. Flowing from the dam at extreme
depths, the Fryingpan River's water is super cold (in
the 40's Ð low 50's) for most of its journey to Basalt.
This cold flow protects the trout from warm summer
temperatures and also provides the river with consistent
hatches of mayflies, caddis and some stoneflies. Trout,
especially rainbows, have been caught in the river
over 10 pounds. These phenomenal weights are achieved
mainly from feeding on mysis shrimp and also from the
river's other hatches and available food. The mysis
shrimp were originally placed in Ruedi Reservoir to
benefit the trout in that fishery. Since, the shrimp
have been flowing into the river from the dam providing
the trout with a "healthy" diet.
The first few miles of the Fryingpan below Ruedi Dam
are easily accessed therefore this section is usually
crowded and heavily pressured. Remember, the river offers
productive fishing throughout the 14 miles of tail-water
so don't be afraid to venture from the dam and explore.
Hatches will also vary as you move downstream from the
dam. Close to the dam the primary flies used are mysis
shrimp imitations. The farther downstream from the dam
you venture the more emphasis you will find on mayflies,
caddis and stoneflies. The water temperature will moderate
a few degrees as you move downstream which in turn provides
more consistent hatches. Swift moving pockets, pools
and runs are found in the first few miles of river just
below the dam.
CLICK FOR MAP
The middle mileage of the tail-water is composed of slower
moving pools, runs and riffles. This is a great area
to fish the famous Green Drake hatch that appears each
year on this river. Green Drakes are found in the greatest
numbers near areas with silt and slow moving water and
this area fits that description best. You will also find
excellent hatches of other mayflies, caddis and stoneflies
throughout this area and the rest of the Fryingpan River.
The last few miles of river before the Fryingpan
enters the Roaring Fork consists mainly of pocket water
and some riffles and pools. This section of river has
steep banks and is considered to be one of the more
secluded areas on the river. The fishing here can be
great and a lot less anglers will be found.
The green drake hatch on the Roaring Fork and Fryingpan
is a historic event. Anglers migrate to these rivers
from all over to try their luck on some of the huge
trout that come to the surface for this large mayfly.
The hatch migrates upstream with time like it does
on many other rivers. However, the migration of this
mayfly on the Roaring Fork and Fryingpan is more noticeable
and usually lasts longer. The "key" is to follow the
hatch upstream as time wears on. The hatch usually
begins on the Roaring Fork in late June or early July
and migrates up the Fryingpan until it has reached
the dam sometime between late August and mid September.
Other significant hatches on the Fryingpan are blue-wing
olives, pale morning duns, tricos, caddis and golden
stones. Midges and terrestrials are also very important.
Although the hatches are great and the dry fly fishing
can be outstanding, nymphs take the majority of fish
on the Fryingpan. Mysis shrimp patterns, scuds, hares
ears, zug bugs, brassies, etc. catch a large share
of fish. Most of the time light tippets are necessary
to fool fish and spotting the trout before you cast
is a frequently practiced technique.
Planning a trip? The Fryingpan would be an excellent
choice for the novice and skilled angler alike. Its
consistent flows help make it a dependable trip (there
are always exceptions) then some others may be. Large
trout, quality hatches, clear cold waters and beautiful
scenery make for a wonderful experience.