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Fryingpan River Report
Febuary 26, 2015
WATER CLARITY: Vodka Clear. Ideal winter flows!
OVERALL RATING: 6 out of 10 but gaining in strength daily
THE SHORT AND SWEET: Hatches are consisting of primarily midges. Best dry fly activity has been midday, anywhere from 11:00am - 3pm; warmth and overcast offer the best conditions, otherwise seek out the shade. The streamer bite has been fairly decent (weather dependent) and obviously the nymph fishing is solid all day long.
FOOD SOURCES PRESENT: Midges, Baetis nymphs, Mysis Shrimp, Sculpins
IN DEPTH REVIEW: The Fryingpan is a true pleasure to fish during our coveted and wildly popular "Fifth-Season", offering up good midge hatches, light crowds, and shots at some big fish. Nymphing (or streamer fishing) is the name of the game until later in the afternoon but you should always be prepared for anything.
Midge activity is certainly increasing weekly. With the low flows, it is time to think about stealth in your presentations; light leaders coupled with 6x and 7x flourocarbon tippets are the name of the game. If you are getting refusals on your dry fly offerings, be sure you're using fluoro, and most importantly, throw your dries in a downstream presentation.
Subsurface midge larva imitations generally fish best during the morning hours (RIP Red Midge, TC Bling Midge, TC Red Midge Larva), with midge pupa/emerger patterns (TC Knight Rider, TC Biot Midge Emerger) dominating during the afternoons when the hatch begins.
Mysis shrimp spill out of the reservoir on a daily basis where lately the "hatch" has been steady. Mysis are clear when they spill into the river, and begin to turn white or opaque as they begin to expire drifting down with the river. They are of importance only in the upper half mile or so of river. Hint: the really big rainbows of the Pan eat shrimp (and streamers) more readily than the egg for an attractor pattern and vice-versa for the brown trout generally speaking.
The browns are still on the backend of spawning and the rainbows are just now starting to undergo their spawning rituals, thus we strongly encourage you to not fish to spawners. Plus, there's plenty of fish out there that are not preoccupied with sex! Over the past five years we've noticed an increasingly large number of anglers fishing the "Flats" during the spawning seasons of November to April. So much so in fact that more often than not, you'll find twenty dudes in the Flats with the remaining fourteen miles of river literally empty. It's saddening to see so many miseducated anglers out there harasssing actively spawning fish (and we're equally at fault for it's popularization). We're not living in the 20th century anymore when fishing pressure was virtually nonexistant during the winter months and the fish were more protected. Just because fish aren't directly on top of a redd does not mean that they aren't actively spawning. There's only two reasons that fish are in the Flats; one is to spawn and the other occurs during high flows when mysis are prevelent in large numbers. Really, how hard is it to catch trout on a "bead" egg in super skinny water over a spawning trout? Let's change this dynamic together; guides included!
Weekend fishing pressure has been high along the upper half mile below the dam. If you want solitude, stay below mile marker 12.
DRIES: TC Fryingpan Emerger 20-22, TC Bill's Midge Adult 22-24, Skittering Zelon Midge 20-24, Foam Stillborn Midge 20-22, CDC Transitional Midge 22, HOH CDC Midge Adult 24, HOH CDC Spent Midge 22
NYMPHS: RIP Midge Larva 22, TC Knight Rider 22, TC Red Midge Larva 20-22, TC Bling Midge 20-22, TC Black Poxybiot Baetis 22, Sparkle Wing RS2 22, Chocolate Thunder 20-22, Medallion Midge 20-22, Desert Storm 20-22, Black Beauty Emerger 20-22, TC Flashtail Hot Egg 18, TC Epoxy Mysis 16-18, TC Tims Mysis 16-18, WD's 20-22
STREAMERS: TC Autumn Splendors, TC Stingin' Sculpins, Slumpies, Peanuts, TC Foxee's, TC Trout Slider
HINTS: Sight fish. Don't even waste your time blind fishing!
MIDDLE RIVER FRYINGPAN
WATER CONDITIONS: Clear and perfect.
FOOD SOURCES PRESENT: Midges, Baetis nymphs, Sculpins
OVERALL RATING: 7.5 out of 10 due to increased hatch activity, lack of crowds, and less picky fish. On bitter cold days (below 25'f) you'll still be best off to fish the first two miles below the dam.
THE SHORT AND SWEET: This is the current sweet-spot along the river. Expect more opportunities at rising fish, increased streamer activity and much less in the way of fishing pressure.
IN DEPTH REVIEW: The fish along the middle Pan are focused on midges predominately (same flies/techniques as the upper river). That said, baetis activity will be picking up in the coming weeks which makes fishing small baetis/bwo nymphs effective lead/attractor flies, especially prior to and after the midge hatch. There's no need to fish 7x tippets down here unless if you're fishing dries on flat water. Tandem dry fly rigs are preferred utilizing a high-vis midge (TC Fryingpan Emerger, CDC Transitional Midge) trailed by a less visible, more exact midge as the dropper (TC Bills Midge Emerger, CDC Spent Wing Midge).
Like the upper river, the best fishing takes place during the afternoons into the evenings. Streamer diehards have actually had great success on the river as of late, due greatly to the abundance of overcast and warmth that we've had lately. Fishing a single streamer looped onto a 2x tippet is generally more than sufficient. Keep those streamers small (6-8), and focus on bland colors like tan and brown. Swinging or jigging your streamer is best; don't strip the fly. We like to swing when the fish are active and jig when the fish are more neutral.
DRIES: TC Fryingpan Emerger 20-22, TC Bill's Midge Emerger 20-22, HOH CDC Spent Midge 22, Biot Wing Midge Adult 22, Skittering Zelon Midge 20-22, HOH CDC Midge Adult 24, CDC Transitional Midge 20-22
NYMPHS: TC Biot Midge Emerger 20-22, Tungsten Hoover Baetis 20-22, Sparkle Wing RS2 22, Flashtail Egg 18, Slinky Midge 20-22, Flashdance Midge 20-22, TC Red Midge Larva 22, TC Black Poxybiot Baetis 22, TC Knight Rider 22, TC Bling Midge 20-22, Chocolate Thunder 22, WD's 22, TC Flashtail Hot Egg 18, PT's 18-22, Prince 18-20, BTS Baetis 20-22
STREAMERS: Same as upper river
HINTS: Stick to single dry midge imitations NOT clustering versions like a Griffiths Gnat. Save those clusters for April!
WATER CONDITIONS: Clear but cold. Better conditions are to be found upstream.
FOOD SOURCES PRESENT: Midges, Baetis nymphs, Winter Stones, Caddis larva
OVERALL RATING: 3 out of 10. It's fishing for sure, but nearly as well as the middle and upper river. Warm days can yield much better fishing than the 3 out of 10 rating... Be prepared to post-hole it through the snow to gain access.
THE SHORT AND SWEET: In general, head on up higher along the river to find the best fishing (or fish the Fork/Collie).
IN DEPTH REVIEW: If you are planning on fishing through the lower river, stay above or below the Canyon stretch. Miles 3-4 have had plenty of risers in it lately. This is spring creek like flat water and probably one of the most difficult pieces of water to dry fly fish successfully. Then again, it's also one of the most rewarding pieces of water too! If you enjoy challenging dry fly fishing like I do, you'll fall in love with the water here. Bring your A-game, bust out the 7x, Frogs Fanny, accurate casts, and you'll have a ball.
The confluence of the Pan and Fork (on the Pan) has been nymphing fairly well too using winter stones, baetis and midges.
DRIES: Same as above
NYMPHS: Add in some winter stoneflies and caddis larva into the mix down here. Tung. Black Winter Stone 18-20, TC STD's 18-20, TC BLM's 18-20, Princes 18-20, Electric Caddis 16-18, Caddis Candy 16-18
STREAMERS: Same as above
HINTS: The better fishing is certainly up higher on the Pan or down on the Fork and Collie.
Link to the USGS Real Time Flow Chart for the Frying Pan River