Time: 10:00AM – 5:30PM
Location: Above Reudi Reservoir between Meredith and Thomasville
On day two of our fly fishing trip to the Frying Pan River, John Price and I decided to avoid the crowds and fish the upper Frying Pan River above Reudi Reservoir. We agreed to spend the morning there, but if we were dissatisfied with the action, we could return to the tailwater in the afternoon. The upper Pan is a freestone stream and not a tailwater like its cousin below Reudi Reservoir. On Wednesday July 27 the flows were 130 cfs compared to 250 cfs on the tailwater. The presence of large and deep Reudi Lake makes the two segments of the river fish like two separate streams.
Unlike Tuesday the sky was blue and the sun was bright all day, and consequently the high temperature reached the low eighties. Since John fished the upper Pan more than me, I allowed him to lead, although the water we chose to fish was essentially the same that I fished several times in the past. We began below a concrete bridge just before Thomasville, and we each landed one trout, although we quickly encountered a stretch of very fast whitewater and changed locations.
Although the flows were clear and very comfortable for fishing, they remained higher than normal mid-summer levels. I was able to cross at wide points, but I exercised a high degree of caution due to the swift current. John did not carry a wading staff, so in all locations that we fished, I accepted the task of crossing, so we could fish somewhat in parallel. I began my day with a gray stimulator, but this did not generate any interest. Next I shifted to a tan pool toy, with a beadhead hares ear and salvation nymph. These flies remained on my line for the entire time I fished on Wednesday, and the reader will discover why by continuing to follow this post. The first fish landed early in the day was a small brown trout that consumed the salvation nymph near the bank in a narrow band of slow water.
When we abandoned the first spot, we returned to John’s truck and reversed our course a short distance and pulled into an angled two track dirt lane. The water here was wider, and wading and fishing were much more manageable. I crossed at a very wide shallow area and then went downstream a moderate distance. In order to avoid disturbing some appealing bank side pockets, I exited the river and made difficult progress through bushes on a steep loose bank. It paid off to some degree, as I landed three small fish in a nice pocket of moderate depth next to the bank, as I fished my way back up to the crossing point. Another fish that felt a bit larger rose and slammed the pool toy next to a protruding rock in this same pocket, but it quickly shrugged free of the hook.
When I caught up to John, the fish count was at seven, as three more small fish found my net, as I worked the pockets between our two positions. John was entrenched at the tail of a gorgeous deep pool, and he had already landed six fish on a dry fly. He beckoned me to join him, and I accepted his offer. I was grateful for John’s generosity in relinquishing the productive pool, as I landed three additional fish from the bottom portion on the salvation nymph bringing my count to ten. These three fish were some of the best on the day and measured in the 11-12 inch range.
I backed out of the pool and continued progressing up the left side and added seven more fish before lunch, but these required more work in the form of repetitive casts through especially attractive deep pockets and runs. At around 1PM we returned to the truck and drove another .5 mile downstream, where we parked in a pullout across from a lot with several sheds and a for sale sign. We took our lunches to the edge of the river, but the mosquitoes were ridiculous, so John and I lathered up with more repellent.
At this location I angled across the shallow tail of some riffles and then walked through a pasture for thirty yards, before I cut back to the north bank of the river. In this case the extra effort was hardly worth it, as the thirty yard section was marginal and required difficult wading. I may have landed one fish in this entire escapade.
I caught up to John, and fortunately for me the water on my side was higher quality than along the bank next to the road. Between 2 and 4 I moved the fish counter from 17 to 40. It was ridiculous fast paced fishing, although the fish were all in the 7-12 inch range and primarily rainbows. I established a nice rhythm and began popping casts to every possible fish holding lie. I am not sure if there were a lot of PMD nymphs subsurface, but the fish absolutely pounced on the salvation. 75% of the landed fish in this time period snared the salvation, and the remainder nabbed the hares ear.
The fish were small, but the action was fabulous. Every spot that looked like it might hold a fish, did. In many instances a fish snatched the nymph as soon as it touched the water. I am always amazed by this phenomenon. By four o’clock we reached another section of very fast water, and it was quite warm and the action slowed slightly, so we agreed to tentatively call it a day.
As we drove back to the reservoir, however, we spotted a sketchy lane consisting of two bare tire tracks, so we could not resist exploring. John guided the truck over some large protruding boulders, and we parked and assembled our rods and followed a shaky seldom used path to the river. We found ourselves above the bridge just above the inlet to Reudi. The water here was wide and relatively shallow with lots of pockets of moderate depth. We spread out a bit, and I worked up the left bank and added three fish to the counter. I probably hooked and lost an equal number, and the salvation and hares ear continued to be productive.
What a fun day on the upper Frying Pan River! We saw one other fisherman during our entire outing, and he was below the bridge just above Reudi, and he did not appear until the last half hour before we quit. We had the Frying Pan River to ourselves, and when can you say that? The fish were small, but they aggressively attacked my nymphs. I love the scenario where a fish emerges from nearly every likely holding spot, even relatively short shallow pockets in the middle of the river. That was the case on Wednesday, and I reveled in the action. I only regret not switching back to dry flies in the afternoon to determine if the fish were selective to subsurface offerings. July 2016 continues to impress.
Fish Landed: 43