Time: 12:00PM – 4:30PM
Location: Folkstead Spring
There is no denying that I had high expectations, and I was disappointed with my first day of a two day fly fishing trip to the Frying Pan River. I am repeatedly attracted to the Pan because of the consistent hatches in an intimate tailwater environment. An explanation for my subpar day on August 28 is difficult to formulate. A drop in air temperature occurred on Monday night, and generally this results from a cold front or high pressure system. Historically I have not experienced many solid days of fly fishing the day after a front moves through an area, so perhaps Tuesday’s results were attributable to this weather situation.
I left Denver at 7:30, and this enabled me to arrive at the wide parking area by Folkstead Spring by 11:30. By the time I climbed into my waders and rigged my Loomis five weight, I was ready to fish. Another angler arrived, as I was gearing up, and he asked which direction I was heading. I intended to go downstream a bit, but his presence caused me to start directly across from the spring.
I launched my day with a size 14 parachute green drake, as I hoped that the fish were accustomed to seeing the large olive mayflies. It did not work. I prospected for twenty minutes with nary a look, so I migrated to a tan pool toy with a beadhead hares ear, and a salvation nymph. This combination was also not effective, although I did manage to net a six inch brown trout to eliminate the possibility of a skunking.
As the start to my day was evolving, a different angler charged across the quality run thirty yards upstream, and he began working along the right bank. He appropriated my intended path! Some undisturbed quality water remained, before I overlapped with my nemesis, so I continued, but the lack of response to my dry/dropper offering caused me to revert to the parachute green drake. I noticed a sparse number of blue winged olives in the air, so I concluded that the water temperature elevated enough to generate increased mayfly and trout activity.
Before tying a tiny blue winged olive fly to my line, I decided to go large. The strategy paid off, when a gorgeous rainbow inhaled the green drake in a long deep trough in the center of the river. The striped stream resident measured fourteen inches, and I was quite pleased with this fortuitous turn of events. Eventually I would discover that this was the highlight of my day.
I conjectured that perhaps I reached a turning point in my day, but despite some scattered refusals, the drake could not repeat its magnetic impact. I downsized to a size 18 light gray comparadun, when I observed some pale morning duns, but only a refusal or two resulted from this change. Next I stepped up to a size 16 comparadun, as the visible duns appeared larger than the size 18 on my line. Again I was thwarted.
I now speculated that the trout were following through on blue winged olive emergers, so I switched to a pool toy, salvation nymph and RS2. It was a great idea, but it appealed to fishermen and not to fish. I also experimented with a 20 incher to imitate a green drake nymph during this phase, but this ploy was yet another disappointment.
Finally I progressed to a point where the river morphed into a fast water chute, and the only attractive locales were pockets along the right bank, and this was water that the upstream angler disturbed. I abandoned the spring area and walked downstream a considerable distance, and I reverted to the parachute drake. The green drake provoked a pair of refusals along a band of slow water next to the bank, so I once again forsake the dry and returned to a dry/dropper. The water ahead was fast and consisted of a large quantity of pockets and deep runs, and these conditions are more suited to the dry/dropper approach.
During the 2-3:30PM time frame I cast a yellow fat Albert, hares ear nymph, and several versions of a pheasant tail nymph. I finally earned some consistency and built the fish count to ten. Unfortunately this included three more browns in the 6-7 inch range, but also a muscular thirteen incher joined the mix along with some wild browns in the 10-12 inch range.
By 4PM I found myself across from the spring again, but the less than torrid catch rate subsided to inactive status. I jumped in the car and moved to mile marker 12, where I made a feeble effort to add to my fish count. It did not work, and I abandoned my efforts at 4:30 and secured a campsite at Little Maude.
Tuesday may have been my slowest outing ever during the July – October time frame on the Frying Pan River. I applied considerable effort to my approach during the afternoon to reach double digits, but the size was lacking. Consistent hatches of green drakes, pale morning duns, and blue winged olives are the hallmark of the Frying Pan River, but they were absent or meager compared to historical standards on Tuesday.
Fish Landed: 10