Overall River Rating:

4/5

Frying Pan River Fishing Report

River Information

The Frying Pan River is arguably one of Colorado's most popular rivers. This 42 mile long tributary of the Roaring Fork is home to some of the largest trout in the state but they do not typically come easy. Light tippets, long leaders and small flies is the rule here, but the rewards can very realistically be the trout of a lifetime. Generally running very cold and crystal clear, sight fishing opportunities abound here--frequently with dry flies. The Frying Pan is a very buggy river with it's Trico, PMD, BWO, Caddis and Green Drake hatches bringing in anglers to the valley from near and far throughout the year. The river offers anglers quite a bit of variety as it flows down stream. The higher you go towards the dam (14 miles from Basalt) the river fishes very much like a tailwater. Mysis shrimp being generated out of Reudi reservoir are a high protein food source the trout readily feed on. The river is generally flatter in the upper miles compared to down lower and is no secret to anglers. If you're hoping to have the river to yourself, you should look elseware.  As you get closer to the town of Basalt, the river gets more canyon-esqe and fishes slightly more like a freestone. Focusing on the pocketwater through this stretch with stoneflies, caddis and streamers can be very productive. It's often much easier to find a stretch of river to call your own in the lower section as well. 


Recommended Flies

Winter/Spring: Midges, Baetis

Summer: Midges, Caddis, Stoneflies, BWO's, PMD's, Red Quills, Green Drakes, Terrestrials, Small Streamers

Fall:  Midges, BWO's, Red Quills, October Caddis 


Seasonal Conditions

Without a doubt, one of the biggest attractions to anglers is the fact that dry flies are consistently fished 12 months a year here. With winter and spring comes consistent midge and baetis activity. By summer the river comes alive with various Mayflies, Stoneflies and Caddis (particularly down low), and a Green Drake hatch that can make the fish go absolutely crazy. There's nothing better than spending a summer day sight fishing a size 10 or 12 dry fly to rising fish! Terrestrials patterns- ants, hoppers and beetles are always a good bet in the summer as well. By fall the streamer game can really become productive for the spawning brown trout, however I've caught just as many rainbows on a small bunny fur streamer as I have browns. There are still plenty of mayflies around in the fall as well, particularly Baetis and Red Quills.     


River Access

The Frying pan originates east of Aspen in the Hunter Fryingpan Wilderness and flows northwest to Ruedi Reservoir. Below the reservoir, the river travels another 14 miles before converging with the Roaring Fork at Basalt. The portion of the river from the dam to its confluence with the Roaring Fork has been designated as Gold Medal and has great fishing access throughout (total of 8.5 miles public lands and easements).

The best water for monster fish is between the Dam (the Toilet Bowl) downstream to 20 inch pool (1 mile) but the fisherman hatch is prolific in this section. Every single section of the river has a name so it is best to get a fishing map of the area for more detailed instructions. Some of my favorite upper sections include: 20 inch pool, mean Joe Green, Baetis Bridge, Bend pool, The Flats and the Toilet Bowl. Some of my favorite lower sections include:  Red Rock Canyon, Taylor Creek and Rose's.

Access:

  • Take Fryingpan Road east out of Basalt. The road follows the river the whole way and public access is clearly marked throughout.
  • For more solitude fish the lower river access points or fish above Rudi Reservoir.