Frying Pan - Autumn
In the opinion of many, this is the best time of year to fish the Frying Pan River for a number of reasons. The hatches are fantastic and varied and the crowds have gone. The days are glorious with that refreshing nip of cold in the morning. The colors are changing. The fishermen now are more experienced and courteous. This will carry on through October.
Don't be fussed by a little rain. It is refreshing and will bring on great hatches of BWO's size #18 through #24 and PMDs size #14 through #18. These hatches will occur in the afternoon and into the evening. Carry a variety of patterns. Don't forget to carry some cripples. Watch how the fish are rising and try and determine whether they are taking the Duns or the emergers. Often times fishermen mistake the rise and fish with a dun rather than an emerger. Use a dun with an emerger to get the best of both worlds.
A smaller spinner fall occurs in the morning and the more significant one occurs in the evening. So after the bustle of the day, you might find the river to yourself and a great evenings fishing.
There will also be caddis hatches in sizes #16 through #12. Use olive bodied flies. However, orange or yellow stimulators (#16 and #14) will work as well. It emulates more than merely a caddis. It also represent a western crane or a PMD giving you more options. The October caddis is a little larger and the yellow bodied stimulator will work as an imitation.
Hoppers and ants will also work if things slow down. However terrestrial activity slows down as the weather cools.
The fish will have been beaten over the head with green drakes and nymphs by now so it doesn't hurt to try a little variety. In my view ants, hoppers and beetles are vastly underrated patterns. These terrestrials are present all of the time during summer and the early fall, particularly near the banks and if it is a little windy.
In addition, sometimes where there is a large hatch going on, it is sometimes difficult to see your fly at a distance amongst the naturals on the water. Furthermore, if the fish have time to look at the insects on the water and your pattern and/or presentation is not perfect, the discerning trout might avoid it and frustratingly take the adjacent naturals slapping your fly on the way down. Try and plop a terrestrial on the water emulating an ant or beetle which has fallen off a shrub or a grasshopper which has misjudged its landing or been blown onto the water.
There will also be other hatches to consider. There will be the small western crane fly, Yellow Sallies and the seratella (found only on the Frying Pan). The BWO's are also hatching at this time and will continue to hatch through the fall.
Most of the foregoing discussion has been directed to dry flies and emergers. There are always great opportunities for nymphing. While waiting for the hatch to start remember that under the surface the nymphs will be moving about preparing to emerge. So rather than just waiting for something to happen, try midge larva as well as PMD and Baetis nymphs. These will work well into the hatch as well, so don't switch to early. And even then, stay with the emergers for a time.
Also fish with 2 flies unless the hatch is prolific. If it is a little slow, a PMD or Stimulator with a small baetis nymph dropper will work.
In addition remember that the best fising comes on the dull days in the middle of cloudburst. As Autumn develops it will get cold quickly so be prepared to dress warmly and stay out through the rain. Don't underestimate the changeability of the weather. Particularly by October, be prepared to dress for winter conditions. The BWOs will hatch in waves so stay on the water and watch and wait. Be prepared to change flies quickly as they switch from PMD's to BWO's and even drakes up towards the Dam. To do this efficientyly you must be warm, dry and comfortable.
As Autumn progresses the principle hatches will be midges and BWOs. Although other hatches will be about, the predominantly successfull patterns will be from those two groups. Be prepared to experiment and use any pattern which you consider might resemble the locally advised flies. Remember that by that time of the year, the fish will have seen almost everything about. So sometimes, a fly which is just a little different might work for no good reason.
The Pan will slow down in October. It will have been running higher since the middle of summer but by October, the calls on the water should have finished and the flow will drop to around 100 - 120 cfs depending on the conditions. This is both a blessing and a curse. The slower water makes it easier to wade most places and hence most fishermen can access it safely. However, as the level of the water drops, the larger fish will move back into deeper holes for protection and therefore will be a little harder to pinpoint unless you know the river. The lower clear water also makes fishing tough on a bright sunny day. Use 7x and up. We now carry Varivas tippet material which is excellent and ranges from 8x to 12x! The 8x (2.05lb test) is twice the strength of other 8x (generally 1lb test) and is excellent giving an added advantage if you are prepared to fish so light. The bright light in the middle of the day will generally call for you to look for BWO's in the shade or fish deeper with nymphs. Maybe take off the middle of the day for a rest and then fish into the evening.
In addition in October the browns will begin to move to the redds. You should see some beautiful sights as bright red trout leap about expending energy at this time. However keep clear of the redds when the fish are stacking up on them.
This is indeed a lovely time of year. The last vestiges of warm air. The hatches seem to become more frantic but of less duration. It gets darker early so unless you like to fish by feel, you will squeeze as much fishing as you can into the fading daylight. As the pressure comes off the fish, they will be a little more approachable. There will be mornings when there is no-one else on the river. The fishing will be fantastic and you will have it all to yourself.
Here are some great fish taken in the last weeks of October 2008 on the Pan.
baetis #20 and smaller;
for further ideas on flies refer to the archives of the weekly reports. Each week our guides made suggestions for flies which were working that week which might be of some interest.