Time: 4:00PM – 6:30PM
Location: Folkstead Spring upstream to MM 11
My fishing friend, Steve, invited me to join a group that was renting one of the Taylor Creek Cabins along the Frying Pan River from May 8 through May 10. Renting a cabin entitles the temporary residents to fish the Frying Pan Anglers’ private water across from the cluster of rustic log buildings. I readily accepted Steve’s invitation, especially when I heard that my share of the lodging cost for three nights was $140. The per night lodging cast barely exceeded the cost for a night’s stay in a national forest campground.
On Tuesday morning I drove to the Wooly Mammoth parking lot along Interstate 70 near Golden, CO, and there I met Steve and his friend Ed. Ed volunteered to drive, so I transferred my bags and gear to his Volvo station wagon. After navigating through some construction in Glenwood Canyon, we arrived in Basalt by 12:30, and here we met the other three members of our crew at the Stone Pony. We ordered our lunches, and I was introduced to the other members of the team; John, Steve and Bob. All were anxious to get a jump on three days of fishing, but after lunch we stopped at the Taylor Creek Fly Shop to obtain information and purchase a few flies. I bought four mysis shrimp, as these are prevalent on the Frying Pan River below Reudi Reservoir, and I do not tie the popular tailwater crustacean.
After we exhausted our questions and made last minute fly purchases, we continued along the Frying Pan River Road and checked into our Taylor Creek Cabin. Initially we were disappointed to learn that the temporary quarters contained only two bedrooms with two single beds in one, a double bed in the other, and a futon in the kitchen. Some quick math yielded the conclusion that two of us would need to sleep together in the double bed, but before total panic prevailed, Bob discovered a separate building that used to be a garage that was converted into another bedroom and bathroom combination. We were relieved by this discovery and stashed our belongings, and then Ed, Steve and I departed to fish.
The shop suggested that the river from MM 10 to 12 contained the best opportunity to encounter blue winged olives, so we chose that section as our destination. I was the most knowledgeable person regarding the stretches of the Frying Pan River, so I guided Ed to the parking lot next to Folkstead Spring, but once we exited the car and surveyed the river, I sensed that the water was too fast for their tastes. We piled back into the Volvo and continued for another .5 mile, where we parked near the upstream border with private water. This section offered quite a few nice pools, and this appealed to the other guys more than the water near the spring.
Steve and Ed fished a nice pool just below the private boundary, and I hiked down the road to Folkstead Spring. I crossed the river at the spring, and this was unusually easy, as a result of the relatively low flows of 114 CFS. Tuesday was a warm day with the temperature along the Frying Pan approaching the low eighties. The sky was perfectly blue without the hint of a cloud. These weather conditions are generally indicative of challenging fishing, and I was skeptical that the anticipated blue winged olive hatch would materialize.
Once I crossed the unusually gentle Frying Pan, I began working upstream for the next two hours. Given the low clear conditions I began with a size 16 light gray deer hair caddis, but after testing it in some very attractive runs with no positive results, I shifted to the dry/dropper approach. I opted for a yellow fat Albert, hares ear nymph, and RS2. I continued prospecting with these flies, but once again I suffered through a dry spell. I paused to observe, and I noticed occasional caddis touching the water, so I exchanged the RS2 for an emerald caddis pupa.
This three fly combination remained in place for the remainder of my time on the water. Before I quit at 6:30PM, I landed seven trout; three rainbows and four browns. Three of these trout favored the hares ear nymph, and the other four snatched the emerald caddis pupa. This suggested that the fish were opportunistic in the faster water and not selective to any single food source. All three of the rainbows were larger than the brown trout. The last fish of the day was quite obviously also the best, as it was a rainbow trout that measured sixteen inches. I landed this beauty, after I returned to rendezvous with Steve and Ed, and I fished a moderate run below their pool. Another ‘bow was thirteen inches, and the third was in the twelve inch range. Two brown trout measured out at twelve inches, and the remaining two were smaller cousins in the seven inch range.
The fishing on Tuesday was quite slow, and I was very pleased to land seven fish. Many spots that seemed to be sure things failed to deliver. Success required frequent movement and repeated casts, and I never identified the water type that was most consistently productive. It was a decent start to our three day visit to the Frying Pan River. Early May represented the earliest in the season that I ever fished the popular tailwater, so I was uncertain regarding what to expect.
Fish Landed: 7