Description of Frying Pan River:
Although there are some big trout just under the dam in an area called the toilet bowl,
the fishing further on downstream is what makes the river great. The fish below the dam
feed heavily on the mysis shrimp, a small freshwater shrimp stocked in the lake that get
through the dam. The mysis shrimp is thought to be the food that makes the rainbows
attain their huge size.
The entire stream has some very nice rainbow, brown, cutthroat and brook trout. It's
only disadvantage comes from the fact it's such a good stream. It can get crowded.
The "catch-and-release" regulations helps keep the large population of large trout year
after year. Make sure you check the current regulations that are always subject to
change prior to fishing the Frying Pan River.
The river begins near the continental divide near Mt. Elbert. The headwaters consist
mostly of pocket water. The trout are mostly small, and consist of rainbows, cutthroat
and brook trout. The river flows near Meredith, into Ruedi Reservoir. It terminates at
the little town of Basalt where it flows into the Roaring Fork River.
The tailwater section averages about fifty feet in width. The bottom discharge of water
from the dam is very cold. The river stays cold all the way to the Roaring Fork even in
the hot summer months.
The main feature of the Frying Pan River is its huge rainbow trout. They can grow to
very large sizes. Rainbows have been caught weighting over ten pounds.
Access to the Frying Pan River is easy and plentiful. It's so easy that its upper section
is often a crowded. Most anglers fish only the first few miles of the uppermost tailwater,
not its fourteen mile length. The lower end of the river is rarely pressured.
The discharge of water from the dam is so cold the water temperature changes the
further downstream you go. Different aquatic insects prefer different water
temperatures and consequently, hatches vary throughout the fourteen mile length of the
The first few miles below the dam is usually fairly fast moving water consisting of riffles,
runs and pools. The flows slow down and the stream gets wider further downstream.
The Frying Pan River is known for its huge Green Drake hatch but there's plenty of
other aquatic insects. In addition to the numerous species of aquatic insects there's a
large variety and large numbers of crustaceans available for the trout to eat.
The lower end of the Frying Pan is rather secluded and fished far less than the
uppermost section. A little effort is required to access the river in its lower section but it
is well worth it.
One great thing about the tailwater is the entire stream from the dam down to its
confluence with the Roaring Fork is classified by the state of Colorado as Gold Metal
Waters. That means fishing with artificial flies and lures only. All trout except the brown
trout (2 fish over 14 inches) must be released.
Recommended Tackle & Gear
5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 & 12 ft., 5 or 6X,
Nymphing: 71/2 ft., 3 or 4X,
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rods:
Perfect Fly Superb Five or Ultimate
For 5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
You can fish the river any day of the year and catch trout. The water is discharged
at a constant temperature and doesn't freeze over in the Winter.
Late winter is a great time for fly fishing the Frying Pan River.
The good fishing continues into the early spring when the water is low and the fish
can be spotted and sight cast to.
Fly Fishing Guide to the Frying Pan River:
We will touch on the fishing in the upper headwaters of the Frying Pan River but we will
be mostly concerned with the tailwater section.
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 very large.
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.
Frying Pan River Hatches and Trout Flies:
Our information on aquatic insects is based on our stream samples of larvae and
nymphs, not guess work. We base fly suggestions on imitating the most plentiful and
most available insects and other foods at the particular time you are fishing. Unlike the
generic fly shop trout flies, we have specific imitations of all the insects in the Frying
Pan River and in all stages of life that are applicable to fishing. If you want to fish
better, more realistic trout flies, have a much
higher degree of success, give us a call. We not only will help you with selections, you
will learn why, after trying Perfect Flies, 92% of the thousands of our customers will
use nothing else. 1-800-594-4726.
This beautiful river has several hatches that takes place that provides some excellent
dry fly fishing that would rival any trout stream in the nation. It is known for its selective
You will find midges hatching on most everyday of the year. They become more
important when there is nothing else hatching. That is why they are popular during the
winter months of the year.
Mysis Shrimp are not insect, of course, but are one of the most imitated sources of
food on the Frying Pan River. These little crustaceans get through the dam from the
deep water of Ruedi Reservoir. They are more abundant just below the dam than far
The first mayfly to hatch on the Frying Pan River is the Blue-winged Olive. The hatches
start about the first of February and last through the month of March. This is a
bi-brooded hatch that occurs again from August and into the month of November. It
consist of several species including baetis.
The huge Salmonflies start hatching about the first of May. This hatch usually last from
two to three weeks. During the months of July and August the Little Yellow Stoneflies
hatch. These are called Yellow Sallies by most anglers.
Pale Morning Duns begin to hatch around the first of July. The hatch can last through
August and into the first of September. The Western Green Drakes start hatching
about the same time and it too can last well into September. The Red Quills start
hatching around the end of August and can last through the month of October.
There are several species of caddisflies that hatch on the Frying Pan River. Probably
the most important of them are the Spotted Sedges. These caddisflies can hatch
from June through September, depending on the particular species. There is also a
short hatch of their Little Sisters that takes place in July. Green Sedges are fairly
plentiful on this stream. Imitations of their larvae, called Rock Worms, are effective
flies to use. There's also an October Caddis hatch that occurs during September and
Terrestrial insects, including ants, beetles and grasshoppers, are important insects to
imitate during the summer. They become important staring about the middle of June
Streamers are effective flies to use, especially during the times the water is high or
slightly off color from rains. The river has plenty of sculpin and various species of
minnows and baitfish.
We hope you will give our "Perfect Fly" line of trout flies a try if you haven't done so
already. They are the most realistic and effective trout flies you can purchase.
Several of our patterns have proven effective at catching trout on the Frying Pan
Summertime produces some great hatches including the Green Drake hatch the
stream is known for.
Fall baetis hatches (Blue-winged Olives) brings on some great dry fly fishing.
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of
our fly suggestions. Please allow up
to 24 hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will
help you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us
with a budget for flies and we will
select them to match the budget and
get them to you in time for your fly
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The river continues to be in good shape and the few anglers fishing are catching good
numbers of trout and often some good ones. Blue-winged olives, Cream and Red midges
with the larva and pupa fished in tandem continue to work. Winter stoneflies are starting
to hatch. The upper river near the dam is a little warmer than the lower section. Sculpin
streamers continue to catch the larger trout.
(Fishing Report Archives At Bottom Of Page)
10/16/15 The weather is turning much cooler
and more fall like. There is only a little rain
forecast and currently the stream levels are
down and in good shape to wade. Lots of
October Caddis are hatching. Brown trout are
in the pre-spawn and spawning stage and
very aggressive. The bottom discharge of
water from Ruedi Reservoir stays in the low
fifty degree range at the highest.
10/23/15 I goofed and left this part out for the
first three days. I'm getting use to this new
format. October Caddis are hatching big time.
Blue-winged olives are getting going again and
in two sizes, 20 and size 16. It is best on
cloudy, overcast days. Midges will always
catch trout in the Frying Pan. Brown trout are
very aggressive and in the pre-spawn stage.
10/30/15 Blue-winged olives have been
hatching very good the past week. You can
always catch trout on midges, the blood or
red ones and the cream ones are hatching.
October caddis are hatching in the lower
section of the river. Spotted Sedges are about
gone. Don't forget the pre-spawn brown trout.
The Brown Sculpin fly will get their heart rates
11/06/15 The weather is getting colder by the
day. There is some snow in the forecast this
next week. This changed the aquatic insects
you will need to be imitating. Blue-winged
olives and midges will become the most
important insects to imitate for the next few
weeks. The river flows are low but they are
always subject to discharging some water.
11/13/15 Stream levels are low and
discharges slow right now. Melting snow will
sometimes change them but odds are they will
remain that way for a while. There is some
rain/snow forecast for the first of next week.
Midges are by far the most important hatches
taking place and that won't be changing very
much for the next several weeks.
11/20/15 When conditions seem to be bad
just about everywhere in Colorado, you often
can go to the pan and catch plenty of trout.
The water temperature and flows stay almost
constant throughout the winter months.
Hatches consist of Blue-winged olives and
midges mostly. Lately, the Brown Sculpin
streamer has been the big fish producer.
Fly Fishing On The
Frying Pan River In
The Frying Pan River is one of the finest
tailwaters in the country. Although you
can fish the freestone section of the
river, it is the tailwater section below
Ruedi Reservoir Dam that provides
fourteen miles of great trout fishing. The
Frying Pan River is a tributary of the
Roaring Fork River. It's a cold water
river with huge hatches of aquatic insets.
11/27/15 If you love fly fishing for trout, you would love fishing the Frying Pan river.
It is a small stream paradise. The weather is going to be decent with snow through
Sunday then clearing. By the way, blue-winged olives will hatch on mild, snowy
days, so snow isn't that bad. The bottom discharge keeps the water in good shape
regardless of the air temperatue.
12/04/15 The Frying pan is in great shape. The water stays about the same
temperature all winter long as long as you are within three to four miles of the dam.
The bottom discharge keeps the tailwater in good shape and the trout active. You
can catch trout on midges all winter long. Fish the pupa and larva imitations in
tandem. Fish the adult imitation of the midge only when you see trout feeding on
12/11/15 The conditions are very good for fly fishing on the Frying Pan this coming
week. There is snow in the forecast everyday but that shouldn't affect the trout at
all. It shouldn't affect anglers because they do a great job of keeping the roads for
access to the river clear of snow. Notice we added Winter Stoneflies to the list of
flies. They have started hatching. Keep track of what is happening on our above
linked weekly updated Frying Pan River fishing report.
12/25/15 weather continues to be cold and of course, that is normal. The good
news is the water will stay about the same temperature coming from the bottom of
the Ruedi Reservoir. You can catch trout all winter long on the FP. Sometimes,
getting there is a bigger problem that catching trout. There is a winter storm
warning in effect, so hav e the right vehicle. Midges and Winter stoneflies are the
insect you need to imitate.
01/01/16 The Frying Pan River should be a good fly fishing destination for this
coming week. The weather will be clear with no snow or rain in the forecast, and
the roads in good shape. Midges and Winter stoneflies are the only insects you
need to be imitating. I would fish the White Belly sculpin or Brown Sculpin streamer
early and late in the day. They have been catching some big trout.
01/08/16 Conditions are as good as they get in January on the Frying Pan. Fish
within two or three miles of the dam for the best results. Cream and Red, or
blood, midges are working great. So are Winter stonefly nymphs. The snow should
end today and there shouldn't be any travel problems by tomorrow afternoon. The
stream flows are great for wading.
01/15/16 The pan is still in very good shape thanks to the bottom discharge from
the deep Ruedi Reservoir. The water stays a constant temperature all winter long.
Midges and winter stonefly nymphs are the main flies you need to use. The White
Belly sculpin streamer fly works great when there is low light conditions and that
will be the case with cloud cover all week.
01/22/16 One of the best fly fishing destinations in the state in January is the
Frying Pan River. The roads are cleared of snow very quick, so access isn't a
problem. The water temperature is never lower than 39 degrees coming from the
bottom discharge. Fish within a mile of two of the dam for the warmest water.
Midges, Winter stonefly nymphs and the White Belly sculpin are the main flies you
need to be using.
01/29/16 Few fish were caught in the stocked section of the upper river mainly
because few are fishing. The water is cold but they can be caught using the right
flies and tactics. A few trout were reported caught in the Wild trout section of the
02/05/16 The weather is clearing up for the next week after a slight chance of
snow today. The weather will be a little warmer but that makes no difference to
the trout in the upper part of the river. Flows are very low and you will need to use
some stealth to keep from spooking the trout. You can actually sight cast to many
of them, if you keep a low profile.
02/12/16 The Frying Pan is in very good shape except the low water level may
bother some that don't use extra precaution. You have to stay hidden from the
trout. The watter is clear and low and you have to keep a low profile or spook the
trout. The weather is going to be great but will actually affect the water very little
except the lowest part of the river. We don't suggest you fish anywhere but the
upper third of the stream.
02/19/16 The warm weather is going to continue for a few more days. It actually
warmed up some of the lower sections of the river and got the water out of the
almost frozen state. Some water is up to the low to mid forties but most still in the
mid and high thirties. Midges, both cream and red, will still work, but more
emphasis should be put on the Blue-winged Olives. They could hatch this coming
02/26/16 Another week of great warm weather is on the way. There's almost no
chance of rain or snow. The warm air is melting a lot of snow in the water shed
and keeping some of the sections of water stained and high. Midges, Winter
stoneflies and little Blue-winged olives will continue to be the main insects you
need to imitate. Streamers will work best where the water is stained.
03/04/16 We keep being ask and getting request for Mysis Shrimp flies. We have
check the water many times at this time of the year and found almost zero Mysis
shrimp. It is the product of a local ripoff, in our opinion. At times, these shrimp
represent a major part of the diet but not at this time of the year. Midges, little
BWO nymphs and sculpin represent the majority of the most available and plentiful
03/11/16 What a good time to fish the Frying Pan. The weather is very warm and
nice with almost no chance of rain or snow. The stream levels are good with Blue-
winged olives and midges hatching. There are very few people fishing and you
have a lot of water to yourself. What more could anyone ask for.
03/18/16 Great conditions continue. There is little to no rain and no snow in the
forecast and it will be a little warmer than normal. The discharges and stream
levels are just fine. March Brown mayflies are hatching in the lower end of the
river. Blue-winged olives and midges have been hatching good, but do better on
cloudy days. Conditions are just good all the way around.
03/25/16 Same story, second verse. It is still cold even though it is the first of
Spring. When it does get warm, it melts the bank snow and keeps the water
temperature down low. That will be the case until after the runoff. Fish near the
dams. The tailwater is the warmest. Midges, little BWOs and maybe some March
Browns will be hatching.
04/01/16 The good fly fishing report on the attached link looks like an April fool
joke but it isn't. Conditions are about as good as they get. The discharges and
resulting stream levels are fine and wading possible about anywhere. There is no
rain or snow in the forecast for next week. Several insects are hatching and
everything about as good as it gets pre-runoff time in Colorado.
04/08/16 Stream level is up a little above normal. There is rain in the forecast
everyday for the next week. Little Black Caddis and March Browns are starting to
hatch in the lower end of the river. Conditions will be good as long as the water
doesn't get too high.
04/15/16 The river has been producing some nice trout and large numbers. The
midges, little BWOs and March Browns have been hatching good. There is a
heavy round of colder weather and snow coming as I'm sure you know, so the
further you fish downstream, the colder the water will be. We recommend staying
within a mile of the dam.
04/22/16 This may be the best fly fishing destination in the state this coming week.
Good stream flows, mostly clear water and some March Brown, Blue-winged
olives, midges, and Little Black Caddis hatches beginning to take place. There is
little rain or snow in the forecast for this coming week. Conditions should just keep
improving. The entire river, dam to the lower section is in good shape.
04/29/16 The river is in good condition in spite of the weather and melting snow.
Little Black Caddis are hatching big time and our customers are catching lots of
trout feeding on the emergers and egg laying females. There is a lot of rain and
snow in the forecast this coming week but otherwise, conditions should remain
good. The water clarity is clear in most sections.
05/20/16 The stream levels are low and wading possible just about anywhere. This
is very much subject to change because the headwaters are in a full runoff mode
and they will be keeping the lake at the right level. Right now, conditions couldn't
be better. Lots of insects are hatching and our customers are catching trout in
good numbers. The stream is producing from the dam to the Roaring Fork
06/03/16 The Frying Pan is one of the top fly fishing destinations during the
Colorado spring runoff season. The discharges are usually steady but can be high
at times, and even then, the river can still be fished in many places from the bank.
Right now, it is in great shape with lots of caddisflies hatching. There are still a few
Salmonflies hatching in the lower section of the river.
06/10/16 Currently, the discharges and stream levels are high, about as high as
they get during the runoff. This may change, so you just have to keep watching.
Often it is one of the best places in the state of Colorado to fish during the runoff.
You can fish most of it from the banks and at times the discharges are low enough
to safely wade some sections.
06/17/16 The Frying Pan discharges and resulting stream levels are way down,
wading possible and insects hatching in huge numbers. There is a large diversity of
the bugs, and dry fly fishing is excellent right now. The stream is a little busy with
anglers but they all seem to be doing well and catching trout. There is plenty of
room on the lower end of the river, so you can still find some solitude.
06/24/16 The stream is in good shape with lots of hatching insects. The ones that
use good imitations of the naturals are catching a lot of trout. The flows are
running about normal and the water clear. There are trout being caught from the
uppermost section just below the dam to its confluence with the Roaring Fork river.
There are lots of caddisflies and Pale Morning duns hatching.
07/01/16 The Frying Pan is in great shape as usual. There are a lot of insects
hatching and our customer are giving some good reports. They are catching trout
throughout the river from the dam to the confluence with the Roaring fork. The
stream levels are fine and the water clear as a crystal. Lots of Pale morning duns,
still some Green Drakes on the lower river and lots of caddisflies are hatching.
07/08/16 The stream is in good shape with lots of hatches still taking place. Pale
Morning Duns and Spotted Sedges are probably the most plentiful and important.
The early morning spinner falls of the PMDs is providing action for those who fish
the stream early with the PMD spinner fly. Late afternoon little Yellow stonefly and
Spotted sedge egg laying activity is also producing a lot of trout. The coming week
indicated it it is going to be another good one for those fishing the Frying Pan.
07/15/16 The river is still producing a lot of trout for those fishing it. They are
catching trout from just beneath the dam to the lowest end of the river. Pale
Morning duns, Spotted sedges, and Little Yellow stoneflies are the main insects
that are hatching. No, we don't recommend going to the terrestrials just yet. There
are still plenty of aquatic insects in the water. Fish late in the day for the best
07/22/16 The river is in good shape with low discharges and good stream levels
well suited for wading. You have to stay hidden from the trout and make good
presentations. There are still some good hatches of Pale Morning duns, Spotted
sedges and little Yellow stoneflies. The best time to fish is late in the day near
dark. That is when the caddis and stoneflies are depositing eggs and bringing trout
to the surface to feed on them.
07/29/16 Not many anglers fish the Frying Pan during the middle of the summer.
That can be a mistake because it is still as good as any stream in the state of
Colorado. The water stays cool from the bottom of the lake and hatches continue
to take place. The few number of anglers fishing gives you plenty of water to
08/05/16 The river is in very good shape. There are flash flood warnings out for
today and you would probably get wet but otherwise, you should catch plenty of
trout. There are hatches still taking place and stream levels are in good shape.
There are lots of Pale Morning Duns and two species of caddisflies hatching.
Tricos are also starting to hatch.
08/12/16 Conditions remain about the same as last week except there is no
chance of rain for the next seven days. We received some good reports from
customers this past week. There are still plenty of hatches taking place. The cool
tailwater temperature makes the Frying Pan a good destination during the hot
summer months. Fish early in the morning and the last two or three hours of the
day to avoid the heat.
08/19/16 Customers continue to send in some good reports. They are catching
plenty of trout fishing the caddisfly hatches and egg laying the last two or three
hours of the day. Early morning streamer fishing is also turning out some fish.
Terrestrials, like ants, beetles and hoppers are also working.
08/26/16 Conditions remain about the same. Few anglers are fishing but those that
are catch good numbers of trout. Early morning streamer fishing is good. Use our
Brown or White Belly sculpin. Late afternoon, meaning the last three hours of
daylight, is when the caddisflies are depositing eggs. This brings trout to the
surface to feed. You can catch more fish then that the entire rest of the day.
09/02/16 The Frying Pan is in very good shape and our customers are reporting
some nice trout being caught. Early morning streamer fishing us our Brown and
White Belly Sculpin produced most of them. Fish streamers early and late in the
day for the egg laying caddis. You can catch trout all day though. There are still
plenty of hatches taking place.
09/09/16 The river is very low but still okay to fish. You just have to make sure you
don't spook the trout. Stay low, make longer, better presentations. Use lighter
leaders and tippets. Dress to match the background. Fish early and late in the
day. LIttle Yellow stoneflies are hatching along with cinnamon caddis, Slate
Drakes and others. Terrestrial imitations are working good as well.
09/16/16 The discharges are up and the water flowing strong. It can be waded but
you need to be careful selecting the places to wade. Caddisflies are still hatching
strong along with lots of Mahogany Duns. Terrestrial insects imitations are working
as well - Ants, beetles and brown hoppers.
09/23/16 The stream levels are about normal and in good shape. Wading is easy
in most places and fish are being caught in good numbers. There are several
hatches taking place and terrestrials are still working good according to our
customers. Conditions are very good yet there are relatively few anglers taking
advantage of it.
09/30/16 Good conditions exist throughout the river. Few anglers are fishing but
those that are fishing are catching some very good numbers of trout. There are
several hatches taking place, good stream levels and active trout. It doesn't get
any better at this time of the season. By the way, brown trout are aggressive and
in the pre-spawn stage.
10/07/16 The river is in very good shape for the first part of October. Our
customers are catching lots of larger size brown trout. They are entering the
spawning stage and becoming territorial and aggressive. The Brown sculpin and
White Belly sculpin streamers work good for this. The Matuka sculpin patterns,
both the Olive and Black versions, also work.
10/14/16 The discharges and resulting stream levels are low. There has been little
rain in the watershed. You have to stay hidden from the trout. There are still plenty
of hatching insects. The weather forecast is a good one except there is no rain in
the forecast. Dress to match the background and make longer, lighter
presentations using Perfect Flies which imitate the naturals much better than the
10/21/16 It is a very good time to fish the Frying Pan river and few anglers are
doing so. There are some big Blue-winged olive hatches taking place. Brown trout
are spawning or in the pre-spawn stage. The water is low and you can wade
about anywhere but please don't wade through the redds.
11/04/16 I don't see how conditions could get any better for the first part of
November on the Frying Pan. There are some excellent hatches of Blue-winged
olives taking place. The stream levels are at a normal level and the with some rain
ending tomorrow. It is nice and relatively warm and our customers are catching
lots of trout. Few anglers are fishing.
11/12/16 The river remain in very good condition. Discharges and stream levels
are low, but that is normal at this time of the year. Our customers are catching
some very large brown trout. Two were taken last week over 20 inches on the
Brown sculpin streamer. Blue-winged olives and cream midges are hatching and
you can still catch trout on the surface when they emerge.
11/19/16 Although there are some very cold nights ahead for this coming week,
the water temperature of the tailwater will change very little, especially in the
upper sections of the river. There will still be some very good Blue-winged olives
hatches and lots of midges, especially the cream midges. Fish the larva imitation
and the pupa imitation in tandem with the pupa the top fly. This works great on the
11/25/16 The Frying Pan river continues to be one of, if not the best fly fishing
destination in the state at this time of the year. The water temperatures at the
discharge stay almost constant. There are almost always some hatches taking
place. The stream levels usually allow some good wading opportunity. Blue-winged
olives and Cream and Red midges are hatching good.