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Fryingpan River Report
March 9, 2014
FLOW: 168 cfs
WATER CLARITY: Gin clear.
OVERALL RATING: 8 out of 10
THE SHORT AND SWEET: The Fryingpan River is one of the West's best and most well known year-round tailwater fisheries. Hatches are limited to midges which takes the majority of the guess work out, unlike other times of year when multiple/complex hatches take place. Sight fishing to large rising trout in low and clear water with small flies and light tippets presents the ultimate challenge in light-tackle angling.
FOOD SOURCES PRESENT: Midges 20-24, BWO nymphs 20-22, Mysis Shrimp 16-22, Eggs 14-18,
IN DEPTH REVIEW: The Fryingpan has awakened with the renewal of spring and warmer temperatures. Gone are winter conditions with marginal hatches and few rising fish. Our famous Fifth-Season is in full swing! Midges are hatching in solid numbers now with rising fish again the rule instead of the exception. Beyond that, the nymph fishing has been very good too, both prior and thereafter the hatches. There's two big reasons to fish the Fryingpan: Colorado's best dry fly fishing and fish measured in pounds instead of inches.
The vast majority of the "crowds" (if you can call it that in the winter) will huddled into the Bowl, Flats and Bend Pool. All of these areas fish well (hence the foot traffic) but it leaves the remainder of the river and the fish virtually untouched. The Boulders, Guaging Station, Grassy Island, Bridge Pool, Old Faithful and Rosie's areas are ideal places to catch plenty of fish and not see nearly as many, if any, other anglers. Most of us are now foregoing the upper half-mile of river in lieu of solitude and better fishing.
Dry fly junkies can still get their fix midday when the midge hatch begins. Light fluoro tippets of 6x and 7x are required because it's proportionate to the size of fly being fished. Small, trailing shuck, surface emergers are key. Bill's Midge Emerger, Skittering Zelon Midges, and Morgan's Para Midges in sizes 20-22 are killer patterns. If all else fails try some HOH Spent Midges and HOH CDC Wing Midges in sizes 22-24. This is fly-fishing!
Shallow and light, two-fly nymph rigs are generally best no matter what part of the river that you are fishing, assuming that you are between hatches. As the browns finish their spawning efforts, the rainbows begin theirs. The brown trout on the Fryingpan spawn from November through January, while the rainbows generally spawn from January through March. Because of this, egg patterns (either yarn or peg styles) are highly productive, in addition to them serving as viable sub-surface strike indicators. At times, select fish will also key in on mysis shrimp shrimp. It goes without saying that if you are fishing in the Toilet Bowl it's all about mysis shrimp. Many of the fish in the Bowl are hovering near the waters surface. You can dredge with piles of lead and foul-hook fish, or you can sight fish unweighted/lightly weighted mysis and catch every fish in the mouth.
On the nymph side of things, keep things basic. Egg patterns are great lead/point flies, while small and dark midges are effective droppers. Our Mini Flashtail Hot Eggs in size 18 in OR Cheese, Champagne and Orange are all fishing well. Generally speaking, I have a tendancy to fish the muted/lighter colored eggs during sunny days and the brighter colored eggs during overcast days. PegEggs in 4mm and 6mm are good bets also. Our favorite colors include Glow Roe, Milt Roe and Chartreause. Small, size 16 or 18 hooks are best below your PegEgg. The TMC 2499SP is a wicked hook for this! Egg patterns are jokingly referred to around here as either the crutch or the clutch depending on how you look at things.
During the morning hours most fish are keying in on midge larva and small baetis nymphs. As the day rolls on, look for fish to shift their focus to midge pupa and emergers. During this switch, the fish will also transition from the deep and slow pools to shallower riffles and eddies. Some of my favorite larva patterns include the TC Red Midge Larva, Disco Midges, Flashdance Midges and Bling Midges. For pupa and emerger patterns we prefer Medallion Midges, RS2s, Flashwing WD40s, and Biot Midges. Sizes 20-24 are best for imitations.
Beyond midges, the other insect of importance to fly anglers includes small and dark BWO nymphs. Unlike most blue wing olive nymphs found elsewhere, the BWO nymphs of the Fryingpan are very dark olive, nearly black in color. Because of this, many of our flies are tied darker than most commercially available patterns. Our Black Poxyback Baetis, BTS Baetis and Jujubaetis are viable players. The old guide trick of carrying a black Sharpie marker and coloring traditional olive BWO patterns black (like Pheasant Tails) will work too.
Please be aware of spawning fish and their redds (beds). Give these vulnerable fish a wide berth and resist the temptation to cast at them. Always cross downstream of beds to prevent covering eggs with river mud and vegetation!
DRIES: TC Bill's Midge Emerger, Skittering Zelon Midges, Morgan's Para. Midge, CDC Spent Midge, and Griffiths Gnats
NYMPHS: TC Flashtail Mini Eggs, TC Black Poxyback Baetis, Jujubaetis, PTs, BTS Baetis, TC Red Midge Larva, Disco Midge, TC Stott's Night Rider Midge, RS2s, Flashdance Midges, Biot Midge, Rojo's, Black Beauty Emerger, TC Tim's Mysis, TC Sands' Epoxy Mysis
STREAMERS: TC Autumn Splendors, TC Stingin' Sculpins, Slumpies
HINTS: Pay attention and read the rise form to catch numbers of fish near or on the surface.
MIDDLE RIVER FRYINGPAN
WATER CONDITIONS: Gin-clear water conditions
FOOD SOURCES PRESENT: Midges 20-24, BWO nymphs 20-22, Eggs 14-18
OVERALL RATING: 6 out of 10 Stay above mile markers 6-8 for the best winter fishing. The rating is 6 out of 10 due to the middle river being more weather dependent. On warmer days, this ranking could easily reach as high as an 8, while on bitter cold days this section of river can seemingly feel fishless warranting a rating of less than 6.
THE SHORT AND SWEET: During periods of warmer weather, the middle river has been fishing fairly well. That said, the most consistent fishing has been taking place closer to the dam.
IN DEPTH REVIEW: Same flies and techniques as the upper river. Some of the the better water to fish includes: Big Hat, Eagle Pool and Rosie's. Big Hat and Rosie's will get more sunshine and warth compared to Eagle Pool, so fish accordingly.
DRIES: Same as upper river
NYMPHS: Same as upper river
STREAMERS: Same as upper river
HINTS: Fish with a fixed amount of line to minimize ice build-up.
WATER CONDITIONS: Vastly improved, just a little ice and snow here and there on the edges.
FOOD SOURCES PRESENT: Stonefly nymphs 8-10, Baetis Nymphs 18-22, San Juan Worm 10, Midge nymphs 20-24, Eggs 16-18
OVERALL RATING: 6 out of 10.
THE SHORT AND SWEET: These fish are officially moving out of deep winter lies and are fanning out in search of food. The beauty of the lower Fryingpan is that you can fish bigger bugs on heavier tippet!
IN DEPTH REVIEW: As mentioned above, the lower miles of the Fyingpan are turning on! Only a few weeks ago we would have told you to skip this section and head up to the dam, but this is the time of year for these fish to instictively put the "feed bag" on and load up on some calories after the skinny winter diet. Recommended flies consist of small, blonde stonefly nymphs, tiny beaded Princes, dark baetis nymphs, midges and San Juan Worms. Streamers are rolling a few fish here and there as well. Not a lot of dry fly activity as of yet, but we are warming up nicely here in the valley and the hatches will only improve from this point onward.
DRIES: Not a lot of dry fly activity, but if you see risers.... Bill's TC Adult Midge 20-22, Morgan's Paramerger 20-22, Idyl's Adult Midge 20-22, Roy's Fryingpan Emerger 20-22, Sprout midge 22-24, TC Sparkledun Baetis 20-22
NYMPHS: Cat Poop Stone 8-10, Spanflex Stone 6-8, Twenty Incher 10-12, Beaded Tungsten Prince Nymph 18, Tungsten Ready Baetis 20-22, RS2 20-22, Sands' STD Dark 20-22, Zebra Midge 20-22, Kingery's Cap'n Hook 20-22, Flashtail Egg 16-18, San Juan Worm 10
STREAMERS: Sands' Stingin' Sculpin 6-8, Slumpbuster 6-8, Sculpzilla 6-8, Crystal Wooly Bugger 8-10
HINTS: Cover a lot of water, some spots will be barren and others loaded up with willing fish. Find water that gets some sun on it over the course of the day.
Link to the USGS Real Time Flow Chart for the Frying Pan River