Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide to the Frying Pan River Colorado
The upper headwater streams above the Ruedi Reservoir are purely freestone
streams that depend on snow melt for their water. The small streams have plenty of
small cutthroat and brook trout and some brown and rainbow trout in certain areas.
They are a lot of fun to fish. The upper Frying Pan River, along with the water from its
many tributary streams, flows from the White River National Forest into Ruedi
Reservoir. There are three campgrounds in the area.
As we said in the introduction, the main attraction of the Frying Pan River is its
tailwater section that is approximately fourteen miles long. Most new anglers get
caught up with trying to catch the huge trout just below the dam. They are easy to
spot but difficult to catch. They can be caught but spending a lot of time there takes
away from the excellent fishing the river has everywhere else.
Also as mentioned, the stream has four species of trout - brown, brook, rainbow and
cutthroat. It is possible to catch a Western Grand Slam there. These fish have seen
about every fly that has been sold or tied. They are not pushovers, yet they can be
caught if you do things right. You need to get good drifts, stay hidden from the trout
and in many cases it is necessary to match the hatch. These trout can and do feed
selectively on one insect at times. Matching the hatch isn't easy, especially during July
and August when there are multiple hatches occurring.
We think the best time to fish the river is during late winter and early spring prior to
the runoff. The runoff doesn't directly affect the flow. It is controlled by the dam
discharges but the melting snow has to be discharged at one time or another through
the dam. The water levels do affect the fishing. During the late winter and early spring
the discharges are low and the trout can be spotted. This makes for some excellent
and exciting fishing because you can sight fish to individual trout, some of which are
The Frying Pan is a river that challenges the angler but doesn't punish him or her if
everything is done well. Even though it is relatively small, it is still one of the best
tailwaters in the nation.
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Frying Pan River Colorado