Time: 10:00AM – 5:30PM
Location: Four spots along the Frying Pan River between MM3 and MM10.5
Jane met Brenda Price through tennis, and they became steadfast hiking and golf buddies. By coincidence Brenda’s husband, John, is a fly fisherman; so we made plans for a joint camping/hiking/fishing trip to the area around Reudi Reservoir. Jane and I arrived on Monday July 25 and set up camp, while Brenda and John stationed their Casita in the campsite across the road at Little Maud Campground.
On Tuesday morning John and I set out for a day of fly fishing adventure. The Taylor Creek reports suggested that green drakes were present in the lower one-third of the Frying Pan River, so we began our quest for trout there. Supposedly pale morning duns were emerging throughout the river corridor, so with this knowledge, we agreed to begin on the lower river and work our way upstream and thus avoid the crowding that inevitably frustrates a fisherman on the upper four miles below the dam.
Our starting point was mile marker 3, and I crossed the river at the tail of a run, and then I began fishing up along the right bank until a point just above a huge eddy where a small side channel entered the main river. The weather was actually overcast and cool in the morning, but I did not feel the need to wear an extra layer over my fishing shirt. From a flow perspective the river was near ideal levels at 250cfs. This enabled comfortable wading, but the water was high enough, so that fish were not abnormally skittish.
As I rigged with a size 8 Chernobyl ant, 20 incher (green drake nymph proxy), and zebra midge; John began fishing along the roadside bank. After fifteen minutes with no sign of fish, although the water quality on my side of the river was marginal at best, I abandoned the tiny zebra midge and switched to a salvation nymph. Finally in a slightly more attractive short pocket along the bank I landed a twelve inch brown trout that slurped the large foam indicator fly.
In the unusual wide eddy where a small side channel reentered the main flow, I foul hooked a small rainbow trout. The water above the eddy was unfavorable for fishing, as the fast current rushed tight to the bank, and John continued to prospect the juicy shelf pools farther downstream, so I cross the river at a shallow riffle to reach the bank next to the road. Here a narrow five foot wide ribbon of slow moving water existed between the fast current and the bank, and I began to cast my three fly dry/dropper. I was excited to land four fish from this nondescript section of the fabled Frying Pan including a fifteen inch brown that smashed the Chernobyl ant. The other three fish grabbed the hares ear and salvation, as they trailed the lead fly.
At the top of the narrow ribbon I encountered another section of fast whitewater next to the bank, so I retreated to John, and we decided to moved to another location. We jumped in John’s Chevy truck and migrated upstream to the massive pool at MM4.5. Much to our amazement it was unoccupied, so after gulping my lunch, I crossed at the tail and moved to a wide deep run and riffle that angled toward the opposite bank. The dry/dropper was ignored, and John reported some looks to his green drake, so I made the switch to a parachute green drake size 12. On the first cast the large paradrake elicited a splashy refusal, but that was the extent of the action. I cycled through some different variations of the drake including a Harrop deer hair drake and a size 14 comparadun, but the changes were fruitless.
John shifted positions and once again announced some refusals, so I returned to a parachute version, albeit a size 14. Finally at the top of the riffle on the right side of some strong current, a fourteen inch brown trout sucked in the green drake. I speculated that this was the beginning of a more significant emergence, but this turned out to be wishful thinking. I sprayed numerous drifts over the delightful run and riffle, but to no avail, so I reverted back to the dry/dropper approach with the Chernobyl, 20 incher and salvation nymph. The change allowed me to land a small brown to reach a fish count of seven, as the fish grabbed the salvation when it began to swing at the end of the drift in some swirly water.
John and I finally abandoned the giant pool and moved up the right side of the river to two short faster pockets that contained some depth. Although these areas appeared promising, neither of use landed fish, but as I returned downstream, I observed two decent fish in the shallow water at the end of the return current in an eddy. Just prior to this I spotted two crumpled pale morning duns along the edge of the river, so I suspected that the pair were hovering just below the surface, as they looked for PMD’s. I tied one of my size 18 cinnamon comparaduns to John’s line, and he landed one of the spotted fish. It turned out to be a fourteen inch brown trout.
After John departed I attempted to fool the large rainbow, but it was resolute in ignoring my fly. I gave the big fish a salute, and John and I crossed at the tail and once again moved to a new location. This time we only drove .3 mile to the huge pool in front of an island at the Seven Castles area. We languished here for an hour, but our efforts were largely thwarted. I did manage to land a small rainbow trout that mistook my cinnamon comparadun for a natural fly, but this event was apparently an aberration. Despite fairly frequent although sporadic rises in the area, I was unable to repeat my early success. I was certain that a size 18 black ant would be the answer, but that fly was likewise treated like inedible flotsam. John reported similar frustration in the smooth flat pool farther upstream, so we once again pulled up stakes and moved.
We debated quitting since it was nearly four o’clock, but we decided to stop at the spring for one last ditch effort. By now some thick clouds appeared in the west, so we agreed to fish until the rain chased us from the stream. We hiked downstream on the shoulder of the road, until we were just below a small narrow island. John jumped in at the top, and immediately witnessed a green drake refusal, while I moved below the downstream point of the island. I thoroughly prospected the attractive pockets below the island and along the south side with no response from fish, and then I bumped into John in some sweet deep riffles near the middle of the river.
As I observed, two fish refused the green drake, and then another gulped it with utter confidence. I congratulated John and then reconsidered my approach and made a change. You guessed correctly. I abandoned the dry/dropper trio and tied a size 14 parachute green drake to my line. To give John space I moved to the pockets along the road and added six additional brown trout to my fish count before we retired at 5:30. The fish were in the 8-12 inch range, but they were aggressive toward my green drake, and they chomped it with confidence. In fact they cut the parachute hackle on the first imitation, and I was forced to tie on a new version for the last two fish. During this time period I spotted my first and only natural green drake of the day.
In summary I landed fourteen fish including a fifteen and fourteen inch brown trout. On average however the fish were smaller than my historical experience on the Frying Pan River. It was fun to find a new fishing buddy, and we were pleased to avoid competition from guides and other aggressive Frying Pan fly fishermen. We returned to the campground weary and hungry, as Jane and Brenda rolled out appetizers and delicious tamales. July 2016 continues to be a fabulous fly fishing month.
Fish Landed: 14