Frying Pan River – 09/24/2013

Time: 10:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: Deadfall pool and upstream to MM12

Fish Landed: 8

Frying Pan River 09/24/2013 Photo Album

After a great day on Monday I was anxiously anticipating our last day on Jeff’s fishing trip, Tuesday, September 24. The high temperature for Tuesday was forecast to be in the high 60’s with sunshine and no precipitation. These were certainly good conditions for fishermen, but what about the fish? Could I replicate my success from Monday and how crowded would the river be with a lack of cancellations due to inclement weather?

We woke up early and packed the car, made lunches, checked out of the hotel and visited Saxy’s for tea again and put ourselves in position to begin driving the road toward Reudi Reservoir by 10AM. Once again we parked at the large guide lot as this was a nice central point that allowed us to work upstream or down. By 10:30 we were fitted out in our waders and had our rods ready for action. Once again I decided to walk downstream beyond MM12, but instead of stopping at the long island I continued to the stretch of water just above the boundary with the private water where a dead tree spans 2/3 of the river and touches a small island.

Jeff Next to Our Jam Packed Travel Vehicle

Jeff Next to Our Jam Packed Travel Vehicle

The sky was a brilliant shade of blue and totally void of clouds and the temperature was in the low 50’s as we began the day. I wore a fleece all day and was never overly warm. As is my custom I tied on a Chernobyl ant and a beadhead hares ear and then a RS2 as my third fly. In order to warm up I began prospecting along the left bank with the three fly combination but generated only a few looks from trout. As I was reaching the top of the run I noticed two fishermen walking my way so I hustled back to the base of the pool to reserve my space. As the pair came into view I realized it was a man and woman and they set up to fish roughly half way between the fast water at the head of the run and my position at the tail.

I focused on my fishing and prospected over some fish at the tail with no success so I clipped all the flies off and resorted to the size 14 green drake. This also did not attract any interest and concurrently I began to notice a very sparse BWO hatch so I added a CDC BWO as a second fly behind the green drake. Again I couldn’t entice the visible fish hovering near the surface to take either of my offerings. The other fishing pair seemed to be established at their initial stopping point so I gambled they wouldn’t move down to my area and dropped below the deadfall and worked downstream along the channel closest to the road.

When I reached the bottom tip of the tiny island I encountered a deep pool and within the pool two rainbows worked in a circular manner sipping something small periodically. Unfortunately I could not provoke them to sip either of my flies despite fifteen minutes of casting and futile attempts to anticipate their direction and counteract the variable currents in the eddy. After awhile I became frustrated with these challenging conditions and also I worried that I’d lose my prime position at the tail of the deadfall pool before a significant hatch commenced so I moved on. The concern over holding a good position in deadfall pool would repeat itself throughout the day and probably served as an impediment to having a better day.

Nice Hidden Pool Below Deadfall Pool

Nice Hidden Pool Below Deadfall Pool

I moved up to the small hidden pool at the top of the right channel, but didn’t observe any rises nor could I spot any fish subsurface in this area that typically holds 4-5 actively feeding fish. I looked upstream and spotted another fisherman working down the right side toward the tail of deadfall pool so I quickly abandoned hidden pool and moved back to the tail of deadfall but I was now on the south side away from the road and opposite the male and female pair that continued to fish from the midsection of the run and pool.

The other fisherman above me worked the right edge of the river and passed below me to hidden pool and then downstream. By now the BWO hatch had abated and the sun was quite warm and bright and nothing was hatching so I sat on a rock and ate my lunch at approximately 1PM. After lunch I began to fear there wouldn’t be a hatch due to the bright blue sky, warmer temperatures, and lack of cloud cover so I decided to rig up for nymphs and tied on a 20 incher to imitate the green drake nymph and added a RS2 to match the BWO nymph.

I began migrating up the river but stopped to try a tiny pocket where the main river flow angled toward the bank and amazingly a nice fat 13 inch brown nailed the 20 incher and I had my second fish of the day. I had landed a small brown on the green drake comparadun at the tail of deadfall pool just before lunch. Perhaps the deep nymph strategy would pay off. With renewed enthusiasm I advanced beyond the couple along the roadside bank and began working the riffles at the head of the run and on my side of the strong current that split the river. Over the next half hour I enjoyed great fun as the fish attacked my nymphs. Normally I don’t enjoy fishing nymphs as much as dry flies, but when the fish are aggressively attacking them on upstream casts, twitches and mends it can be a lot of fun, and that is exactly what evolved.

I landed four fish on the nymphs with a couple in the 13 inch range and had two additional fish that felt heavy but escaped my efforts to net them. The second one broke free suddenly and the pressure I was exerting on the fish caused the flies to rocket back over my shoulder. To prevent entanglement in the bushes and trees I quickly initiated a forward stroke, but I was too late and I snapped off both flies on something. I spent a few minutes scanning the brush but couldn’t spot any dangling monofilament or flies embedded in a branch so I wrote them off and tied on a fresh pair. During this time period the fish were attacking the flies at the top of the riffle, slamming them when I lifted to recast, and snaring them as they began to swing at the end of the drift.

But change is constant in fly fishing and just when I thought I had things figured out with my nymph set up, the river came alive with green drakes and rising fish so I returned to the tail of the pool and removed my nymphing flies and gear and tied on the size 14 comparadun but this went unmolested in spite of quite a few green drake naturals on the water surface. The green drakes on the water appeared to be larger than the ones I observed on Monday so I gave the parachute green drake a try. This fly was visible and looked great on the water, but the fish apparently didn’t agree. In a fit of frustration I dropped back down to the faster water below the deadfall and managed to land a 12-13 inch brown along the edge of the heavy current toward the base of the pool.

Despite this success there were at least four additional fish rising in this small area and  they exhibited no interest in the paradrake. This prompted me to return to the tail of deadfall pool where I noticed some fairly regular risers, but again my fly was looked upon with scorn. I decided to ignore these picky eaters and moved up a bit as I felt the good hatch slipping away with my failure to participate. How about the purchased green drake that duped the 19 inch rainbow on Monday? I tied it on to my line and cast it above a pod of rising fish, but again the fish weren’t impressed.

For a short period there were 5 or 6 trout rising in the shallow flats along the right side and just 10 to 15 feet above me, but this was in the shadows and the fly was difficult to see. Nonetheless I popped some casts over this pod of risers and not a single fish responded. Yesterday’s joy shifted into Tuesday’s frustration. Once again I waded up the pool a bit and targeted some risers more to the center of the river in the sunlight and now I noticed quite a few PMD’s joining the green drakes, and I began to wonder if the fish had switched away from green drakes to PMD’s?

First I tied on one of the size 16 cinnamon comparaduns that I purchased at Taylor Creek Fly Shop, but this fly looked too large so I moved to a quill body melon dun that I’d also purchased in a size 18. This looked like a much more representative imitation on the water to me but apparently not to the fish. Finally I resorted to my bedraggled size 18 one fly wonder that produced twelve fish on Monday, and the fish snubbed this fly as well. At this point I decided to abandon the tail to seek faster more forgiving water so I began to move back to the faster riffles on my side at the head of the run. On my way there I switched from the PMD back to the purchased green drake cripple and dropped a cast into another small pocket along the bank where the river angled away from the main channel. Thwack! A brown rose and took the green drake so maybe my luck was improving.

I proceeded to the top and I was now just above the male member of the fishing tandem who was sending out long casts across the main center current to the riffles on my side. I got off a few casts and then the crazy wet wading fisherman who was showing off his long ineffective distance casting shouted out that I caused him to lose a fish. It wasn’t clear to me how I caused him to lose a fish, but I realized I was dealing with a lunatic so I apologized and moved upstream beyond the fast water via the woods which made for some difficult bushwhacking.

Next I was across from tree rock again and spotted two browns feeding in the low smooth water so I placed some decent green drake casts over these fish but again they appeared to be sipping something minute. I waded below tree rock pool to gain a better casting position and then tried a money fly but this didn’t produce. I looked closely at the water but couldn’t really see any food source that could be prompting the sipping rises so I gave up and focused on the angled riffle in the later afternoon shadows. I had great difficulty seeing the money fly in these shadows so switched back to the green drake but to no avail.

I gave up on this area as there was another fishermen 20 yards above me and crossed to the road and then hiked up to the top of the island across from rectangular rock pool. The river was totally in shadows here and no bugs were on the water and nothing was rising so I decided to try nymphing again. I returned to the 20 incher and combined it with a yellow caddis pupa after having seen quite a few caddis dapping the water. I worked the nymphs upstream through some juicy pockets on the left side above the island and then covered all the slack water between the bank and the swift current in the chutes area before exiting at MM12.

I was now quite chilled from cold feet and being in the shadows and the air temperature was dropping rapidly so I returned to the car and waited for Jeff. My attention now turned to the long drive back to Denver. If I had Tuesday to do over again, I would not focus on saving my position in a single pool and instead would move about and fish more obscure locations. This worked on Monday so I’m not sure why I obsessed with holding my spot at the tail of deadfall pool.

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