Time: 12:00PM – 4:00PM
Location: Above guide lot
Jeff and I spent Saturday night in the tent at Lottis Creek and although it was quite chilly on Sunday morning, we didn’t think it was as cold as Saturday morning. We were anxious to get an early start for the Frying Pan River and the drive entailed a trip over Cottonwood Pass and then Independence Pass, so we rolled up the tent in a damp condition and ate some quick breakfast foods that didn’t require any stove or cooking. As we traveled up the Arkansas River and then over Independence Pass we encountered some thick clouds and heavy rain.
The rain abated somewhat in Aspen and when we reached Basalt there was no precipitation, but the sky to the north and west was quite dark and foreboding. We stopped in Basalt for gas and purchased ice and then visited the Taylor Creek Fly Shop and then moved on and drove up the road that follows the Frying Pan River. The flows were at 115 cfs and the water was crystal clear. We quickly decided to park in a pullout on the opposite side of the road from the river .5 mile or so above MM12 and quickly prepared to fish while the rain held off, but with each passing moment the wind kicked up and the sky darkened.
My rod was still rigged with the nymphs that were on my line from the end of the day on the Taylor River, a beadhead hares ear and a salvation nymph. I walked down the road a bit until I was somewhere between the Santa Fe and the large “guide lot” across from Jewel Pool. Jeff continued on down the road a bit further and found some nice water with respectful distance between fishermen above and below him.
Almost immediately an eleven inch brown hit the beadhead hares ear on an upstream cast, but the nymphs stopped working and the water seemed a bit shallow at 115 cfs for this approach so I converted to a green drake and began to prospect. My first green drake was a size 14 parachute version and before long a 15 inch brown smashed my offering. At this point I was pretty excited about my early hot streak, but the sky was very gray and the air temperature hovered in the low 60’s.
Next I spotted some nice fish in a smooth pool behind a current break and noticed they were sipping something quite small so I put on a CDC BWO and after quite a bit of casting I induced a nice 13 inch brown to rise and take the BWO. As I progressed upstream I encountered water with faster current as well as slower smooth water so I continued to switch back and forth between the parachute green drake in the riffles and runs and then the CDC BWO in the placid water. The BWO got ignored in the next two slow water situations, however, the green drake picked up two smaller browns.
When I reached five fish landed a nice brown rose to the green drake in a current seam, but it broke off when it went into heavy current and needless to say I was quite disappointed with this turn of events. Another medium size brown slid into my net after slurping the green drake and I was now pleased to have landed six fish on the afternoon. Unfortunately at this point it got quite windy and began to rain fairly heavily so I crossed the river and returned to the car for 5-10 minutes until the rain subsided. I felt it wasn’t worth getting drenched when it was nearly impossible to cast in the stiff wind blowing across the stream.
After the wind and rain subsided I returned to my exit point and resumed fishing just below some overhanging tree branches on the road side of the river. The branches forced me to wade up the middle or south side of the stream and fish back toward the north bank. After covering this area with no success I prospected along the left bank by popping the green drake into all the narrow pockets between the bank and the heavy current. This approach yielded two more trout including a rainbow and a brown that probably measured thirteen inches. The last pocket before the raging chute with no fishable water contained at least four fish working in a small space, and when they flashed their sides they appeared to be rainbows.
Unfortunately these fish ignored the green drake so I tried a light gray comparadun and that was equally uninteresting to these trout so I gave up on them and decided to walk back down the road to see if there was an open space with rising fish. Sure enough I found Jeff stationed in a nice riffle area and joined him. Fish were rising everywhere and just as I arrived Jeff began to have success with a quill body parachute green drake. Prior to this, however, he insisted that the naturals on the water were mayflies larger than pale morning duns, but smaller than green drakes and he was ill prepared.
Based on his description of the naturals on the water I tied on a size 14 comparadun with a yellow body and landed a small brown, but then Jeff began landing fish on the quill body green drake so I quickly clipped off the comparadun and tied on the parachute green drake that had performed admirably for me earlier while I was in prospecting mode. Unfortunately the fish in this part of the river did not favor my green drake imitation, so I switched to a green drake comparadun and this resulted in a thirteen inch brown for my tenth fish of the afternoon.
At this point the hatch faded and the rain continued to fall steadily and it was 4PM so we decided to call it a day and returned to Basalt and found a room at The Green Drake. We draped our wet clothes on hangers in the bathroom and visited the Riverside Cafe for dinner. We survived some difficult weather conditions on our first day on the Frying Pan River, but did experience some decent hatching action and looked forward to Monday.