Time: 12:15PM – 4:00PM
Location: The segment below the spring; mile marker 10.5.
Fish Landed: 15
The Weller method of washing camp dishes is often held up for ridicule by the younger members of our family. The steps involved are heating water in a coffee pot until boiling and then dumping into a white plastic dish bin containing liquid dish washing detergent. Once the dishes are scrubbed with a washcloth, the soapy water is dumped, and the dish bin is rinsed with fresh water. This water is then used to refresh surrounding shrubs before more clean water is added to the dish bin. The soapy dishes, pots and utensils are then rinsed by swishing in the dish bin. The final step is to dry the dishes and return them to their proper place in the plastic car-camping storage bins. The rinse water is then returned to the soil near the campsite.
Why am I explaining this detailed process to my readers in a fishing blog? On Thursday evening my daughter, Amy, volunteered to execute the dish washing steps as outlined above. Unfortunately she neglected to remove a spoon from the bin before dumping the soapy water. She was extra diligent about disposing of soapy water away from the campsite and elected to toss it over a sharp bank at which point she heard the ringing sound of a metal spoon landing ten feet below. It was almost dark at this point, so she resigned herself to be a camping litterbug.
Friday morning however brought fresh light to the situation, and feeling bad about her inadvertent trashing of the environment, Amy resolved to retrieve the $.50 utensil. Five feet to the left of the spoon a large log angled from the lip of the bank to a point beyond the spoon. Amy used the knobs and broken branches from the large tree trunk to secure her position as she carefully picked her way down the steep eroding bank. Once she was across from the spoon, she carefully slid across some loose dirt and snatched the prize spoon and thus cleansed the environment at Bogan Flats Campground. A few more sidesteps brought her back to the tree, and then it was not long before she pulled herself back to the brim of the embankment with the sought after spoon firmly gripped in her hand. My daughter is an amazing person.
Since we were unable to stay at Bogan Flats on Friday night , we strategically packed the Santa Fe with all our camping, biking and fishing gear. We were careful to place the biking and fishing items near the one accessible door, as we required these components for the planned day’s activities. Fitting everything in the Santa Fe while maintaining access was a significant accomplishment.
Feeling quite proud of this feat, we departed the campground and drove to the spring between mile marker 10 and 11 along the Frying Pan River. This trip took roughly an hour, and we arrived at the large pullout by noon. I quickly prepared to fish, while Jane and Amy readied their bikes for a ride on the road that follows the Frying Pan River to Basalt. The sky was a rich blue, and I expected to enjoy a beautiful sunny day on my favorite Colorado river.
I intended to hike down the road to the downstream border with private land, but two fishermen were already in that vicinity, so I was forced to cut in farther upstream than I desired. I also wanted to cross to the other side, but the shallow wide area was close to the downstream fishermen, so I resigned myself to working up along the roadside. I began with a Chernobyl ant trailing a salvation nymph, and in a short amount of time I landed a small eight inch brown on the salvation.
I continued prospecting the pockets and hooked a nice brown trout that raced downstream and eventually shed the hook, and I surmised that his fish may have been foul hooked. Next I hooked a large rainbow in a deep slot towards the middle of the river, and this fish fought valiantly before also escaping my hook. Some dark clouds began to gather in the southwestern sky, and they were accompanied by the sound of thunder.
I moved up along the left bank to an area where a thicket of shrubs and branches extended over the water. I carefully tossed the Chernobyl ant fifteen feet directly above me, and it drifted back within six inches of the branches. When it nearly arrived at my feet, I spotted a subtle flash in the glare on the surface and immediately reacted with a hook set. What a surprise to be attached to an eighteen inch rainbow with vivid color and distinct spots!
After releasing the prize rainbow, the sky grew darker, and it became increasingly difficult to follow the yellow spot on the Chernobyl, so I decided to use this time to return to the car and eat lunch. I fished from 12:15 to 12:45, so it was actually lunch time, and it made sense to eat during the less than optimal weather conditions. Initially I was planning to sit by the river to eat, but large raindrops appeared, so I retreated to the Santa Fe and ate there while sheets of rain descended for fifteen minutes. I gave some thought to driving down the road to check on the girls, but they took raincoats along, and I was hopeful that they avoided the storm cell.
The thunderstorm scared off the competing fishermen below me, so after lunch I hiked downstream along the shoulder to the spot just above a small island where it was shallow enough to cross to the opposite shore. I executed my initial plan and worked upstream on the south side of the river for the remainder of the afternoon and landed an additional thirteen fish. One change I enacted was switching the Chernobyl ant for a tan pool toy when I reached the stretch of water above the spring. The Chernobyl was not producing, and I wanted a more buoyant fly that could suspend two beadhead nymphs. This adjustment of course allowed me to add a beadhead hares ear as a second dropper with the salvation.
I kept expecting a pale morning dun hatch to develop, but I never spotted more than a handful of mayflies, and as a corollary to this circumstance, no rising fish. By 3:45 I reached a point where the strong current ran tight to the south bank, and in order to skip this stretch, I was forced to fight through the trees and wade tight to the overhanging branches. I hoped to end by four o’clock in anticipation of the long trip back to Denver, so I reversed direction and waded back downstream along the edge and crossed just above the spring. Jane and Amy were just returning from their bike ride and an afternoon spent exploring Basalt.
The post-rainstorm action consisted almost entirely of brown trout in the 7-11 inch range, although I did land a chunky thirteen inch variety and two twelve inch fish. Roughly half of these fish nabbed the salvation nymph, and the other half grabbed the hares ear. The best results came from the mid-section of slots and pools just as the speed of the drifting dry/dropper began to accelerate.
Friday was a sub-par day compared to most of my time on the Frying Pan River, but the timing was between the spring hatches and the dense summer emergences. I’m not sure where the big browns and rainbows were hiding, but I did manage to land one big boy. I cannot wait to return later in the summer when the green drakes, pale morning duns and blue winged olives are emerging and cause the big fish to abandon their fear.