Winter reasserted itself this past week with clear skies and freezing overnight temperatures. A couple of nights below zero tested out the plumbing with little or no snow to provide even rudimentary insulation.
By the weekend the temperatures began to climb a little as some cloud cover came in bringing with it a little snow overnight and during the day. The prediction is for a continuation of the snow for the next five days. The snow will be welcome on the ski slopes and the cloud cover will keep in a semblance of warmth and maintain the temperatures at a passable range up to the 30’s.
The cold during the week created a lot of ice, particularly in the Fork and the Colorado making access to the river a problem. That resulted in a little more activity on the Frying Pan up near the dam. With the latest snows building on the ice, the ice dams will be starting to develop along the Fork. The Pan is quite clear although there was some evidence of anchor ice on the coldest days lower down towards Basalt.
With the prediction of ongoing cloud cover, a little snow and some reasonable winter temperatures the fishing on the Frying Pan should be excellent during the coming week.
Current Flow: below the Dam 78cfs. (if you want more uptodate figures check out current readings on our "Links" page)
The freezing cold meant that only the hardiest souls were prepared to get out onto the river this week. Caps gave way to fur hats and gloves it was so cold. It was hard to recognize anyone so rugged up were the fishermen out and about. But give them credit. The hard core fishermen who ignore the cold and stride forth. Ice in the guides? A mere trifle. Lines freezing in the air? Irrelevant. Flies that freeze when lifted out of the water into the freezing air? So what! The ice melts off when the fly is back in the water.
The Frying Pan is a remarkable river. One of the few rivers where one can catch fish on dry flies 365 days a year. During the week, the fish took #20 -#24 parachute Adams, small adams #26 and gray midge dries #28. On Saturday there was a strong hatch of midges and a few BWOs coming off. The fish took #18 and #20 parachute Adams fished on the edge of the faster water. Just to see what would happen I put on a #14 parachute Adams and fished it in some rougher water between some rocks. Up came a big rainbow and rolled over it.The freezing weather of the past week is giving way to some relatively warmer cloudy weather with the expectation of some snow. So the dry fly fishing should continue to be excellent. Dress for the cold and the snowfall. Take along something to warm you in a thermos and take time off to sit in the car if it gets too uncomfortable.
Recommended Flies: As the days are getting shorter and colder those sections of the Pan which get shade in the afternoon slow down before the sunnier areas.
We are now down to BWO and midge hatches. For baetis try the FPA sparkle baetis #20-#22, FPA emerging baetis #22 - #26 and small pheasant tails #20 - #24. When they start to emerge try loopwing emergers, rs2's, and gray and olive biot patterns. When they get up on to the surface use Parachute Adams, gray special emergers, olive body dries such as the matthews sparkle dun olive #18 - #22, the cdc comparadun, parachute blue duns and gulper specials.
The midges will come off during the day, particularly if it is sunny. So try WD-40's #20, red and black chironocones #20, brassies #18 - #22, midge larva patterns #18 - #22, copper johns #18 - #22, black polywings #18 - #22 and garcia's rojo midges # 18 - #22. Mike reported great success this week on smaller black midges such as the miracle midge.
As they come off try the gray loopwing emergers #20 - #22, the FPA special emergers, biot emergers both with and without the trailing shuck and gray RS2's #18 - #22. In addition try dry patterns such as the z-wing real midge, suspended midge and any similar dry black and gray patterns in sizes from #20 through to #26, loopwing emergers #20 - #22 and FPA special emergers #20 - #26.
The freezing temperatures over the past few days, have caused a lot of ice buildup and rendered access difficult unless one is extremely careful. The snow this week will continue to build up on the edges.
Ice dams are now beginning to build up and heavy snow falls will make them heavier and increase the risks when they eventually break. So take care on the Fork for the moment and check in at the shop if you are coming up to give you our latest view.
Recommended Flies: Although there will still be some bwo's and midges coming off the most reliable results now will be nymphing with eggs, princes and other attractor patterns.
For streamers try the autumn splendor, the yellow madonnas and the olive woolly buggers. Try streamers with stinger hooks. This will help solve the short striking problem of big browns.
Like the Fork the ice buildup on the Colorado has been quite dramatic with the last few freezing days. Now with the forecast of snow for the next week, a significant depth of snow along the edges and on the ice will call for the greatest caution.
Recommended Flies: eggs, attractors and midges. Try streamers such as the autumn splendor, the yellow madonna and woolly buggers.