Fryingpan River Report
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April 29, 2016
FLOW: 112 cfs
WATER CLARITY: Clear with ideal water levels.
OVERALL RATING: 7 out of 10 (8 out of 10 dry fly fishing) The dry fly fishing has been very, very good!!!
THE SHORT AND SWEET: Look for the midge hatch to begin around 10:30/11am. Just as the midge hatch begins to fade around 1/2pm, the blue wing olives will begin to hatch and come on. Lately, the baetis (BWO) hatch has been about an hour or two in duration. Despite it being a fairly short lived hatch, the midges make a reappearance just as the beatis fizzle out. Successful nymph patterns have included any small and dark baetis nymphs as a lead/point fly (PTs, BTS Baetis, Chocolate Thunder etc) with various midge larva or emergers (RS2s, Biot Midges, Blings etc) as dropper flies.
FOOD SOURCES PRESENT: Midges, Baetis, Winter Stones, Caddis, Sculpins
IN DEPTH REVIEW: As stated above, 95% of the fish are focused on midges and baetis. There have been a few random winter stoneflies fluttering around as well as some early hatching caddis. Of course, mysis shrimp are still of importance in the Toilet Bowl, but that's about it.. There's not too many fish lingering around in the Flats anymore (besides some spawning rainbows that you shouldn't be casting to anyhow) with the exception of the Bend Pool/Flats area transition.
Dry fly anglers should all be fishing with long leaders tied to 7X tippet (we strongly suggest fluorocarbon tippets for the added breaking strength - and it's too fine of a diameter for it to "sink" contrary to belief). The difference between fishing 6X and 7X tippet is night and day right now! You must really pay attention to whether the fish are eating midges or BWOs midday when the hatches are overlapping. The skilled dry fly junkie on the Fryingpan makes as few casts as possible to get the job done. Sit on the bank and pay attention to the fish, water type, insect and insect behavior. Afterwards, plan your stalk. Get into the best position possible prior to ever making your cast. Hunt the fish! Get as close as you can to the fish, thereby making as short of a cast as possible - which eliminates drag and micro currents, practically guaranteeing accuracy. On another note, invest in a bottle of Frog's Fanny (powdered floatant with a brush applicator) and a dry fly towel for your small dry flies. Compared to Dry Shake, Frog's Fanny allows you to "work" the floatant into the fly and its matted or slimed fibers/feathers, instead of just top-coating it. Your dries will float higher for much longer periods of time. Believe it or not, dry fly anglers have been accounting for the vast majority of big fish being caught recently (3-6lb fish). It seems as if the big rainbows are up on the surface with small brown accounting for the bulk of the catch when nymphing.
On the nymph side of things, keep em small and dark (#20's - 24's, black and gray) for the most part. Popular baetis nymph patterns for a lead/point fly include PTs, BTS Baetis, Chocolate Thunders and Tung Hoover Baetis in 20s and 22s. As far as dropper patterns go, we suggest midge larva in the morning hours (Gray Bling Midge, TC Red Midge Larva) and midge emergers in the afternoon hours (RS2s, Biot Emergers). Unlike our dry fly fishing, 6X tippets are satisfactory.
Most of us locals fish for the visuals, meaning that if they're not rising, we're chucking a streamer around. Keep them smallish and in more neutral colorations (tan, olive, brown, rust) for the best success. Go-to's include: Slumpies, Splendors, Clousers, Carton Banks, Sliders, Sculpzillas. Cover water!!!
Education: We have noticed a significant shift this winter in regards to anglers and spawning fish! Most locals would rather see the Bend, Flats and Bowl closed off during spawning seasons. What has been happening, thanks to efforts of anglers like you, is an increased awareness of spawning trout and avoiding them and their beds altogether. We have all noticed far fewer anglers walking across redds and snagging spawners repeatedly. Abuses still occur, but the changes are noticeable. Anglers like you are a big part of this, and we encourage you to politely and patiently educate anglers that may not know any better.
On another educational note, we suggest keeping a few fish here and there when you fish the Pan. The law allows you to take two brown trout less than fourteen inches per day. We're not calling for an all-out assault here, but catch and release has fostered too many fish sharing too little of river in this rare example. Catch and release is absolutely necessary for most places we fish, and justly so.
DRIES: TC Fryingpan Emerger 20-22, TC Para Quill BWO 20-22, No Hackle BWO 20-22, CDC Transitional Midge 20-22, Bills Midge Emerger 20-22, Bills Midge Adult 22-24. HOH CDC Spent Midge 22, HOH CDC Midge Adult 24
NYMPHS: BTS Baetis 20-22, PTs 20-24, Tung Hoover Baetis 20-22, Chocolate Thunder 20-22, RS2's 20-22, Biot Midge Emerger 20-22, Bling Midge 20-22, TC Red Midge Larva 22, TC Epoxy Mysis 18
STREAMERS: Slumpies, Clousers, Sliders, TC Autumn Splendors, Sculpzilla
HINTS: Stay out of the river altogether when possible to increase your stealth factor.
MIDDLE RIVER FRYINGPAN
WATER CONDITIONS: Clear, cold and PERFECT.
FOOD SOURCES PRESENT: Midges, Baetis, Winter Stones, Caddis
OVERALL RATING: 6.5 out of 10 (8 out of 10 dry fly fishing)
THE SHORT AND SWEET: Same conditions as stated above. Nymph fishers can often times get away with 5X and 6X tippets down here. Dry fly anglers should still be using the requisite 6X and 7X. Lighter pressure and a bit more snow on the banks compared to the upper river.
IN DEPTH REVIEW: Same as above. Don't get sucked into the line of thinking that all the big fish (or fish) live right below the dam. For most of us, this is the sweet-spot along the river; great fishing and hatches coupled with less pressure. Like the upper river, hatches are consisting of mostly midges and BWOs, both of which are hatching midday into the early evening hours. Look for the best fishing to take place beyond 11am, as this water is a bit colder than immediately below the dam out of the gates during early mornings. The nymph fishing has consisted of PTs, RS2s and variations thereof in sizes 18-24. Big Hat, Eagle Pool and Rosie's are all great options in terms of access. Well defined fishing trails through the snow and/or dry patches of ground are readily available. It's spring time conditions now....see you next year Winter!
DRIES: Same as the upper river
NYMPHS: Same as the upper river - add in: Cat Turds Golden 8-10, 20 Inchers 14-16, Electric Caddis Olive 16, Prince 18-20
STREAMERS: Same as upper river
HINTS: Carrying a dry fly drying towel and use Frog's Fanny floatant for the best success when dry fly fishing.
WATER CONDITIONS: Significantly improved over the last two weeks. Bank ice and snow have greatly receeded too.
FOOD SOURCES PRESENT: Midges, Baetis, Stoneflies, Caddis
OVERALL RATING: 7 out of 10 in general with the dry fly fishing in select areas peaking around a solid 8 out of 10.
THE SHORT AND SWEET: Welcome to springtime in the Rockies! Gone are winter fishing conditions as midges and baetis are hatching daily now. If solitude outweighs high fish counts for you - this is your spot!
IN DEPTH REVIEW: Same bugs and hatch times as the middle and upper river. In fact, some of the best dry fly fishing on the entire river is being seen in this stretch (Town, Red Cliff, Seven Castles) right now. If you're like us and enjoy fishing tiny dries on flat water slicks to notoriously "picky" fish, you'll be right at home here. Don't be surprised if you see a few risers pushing the 20" inch plus mark!
DRIES: Same as above - with a few more caddis and winter stones being seen. Bare in mind that the fish are still figuring out that the caddis and stonefly adults are food sources; it's still much more midge and beatis oriented.
NYMPHS: Same as above - add in: Cat Turds 8-10, 20 Inchers 14-16, Electric Caddis 16, Buckskins 16-18, Z-Wing Caddis 16-18, Copper John 16-20, Prince 16-20
STREAMERS: Slumpies, Spendors, Clousers, Sculpzillas
HINTS: Fish down here!!! The results will more than likely surprise you.... A LOT! Let the masses fish the day use area below the dam.
Link to the USGS Real Time Flow Chart for the Frying Pan River