Fishing upper Fryingpan

In late August I spent a couple of days fishing the upper Fryingpan near Basalt. The water up there is beautiful and runs from very slow, broad, waist-deep sections just below the dam on Ruedi reservoir to shallow, fast-running riffles. I was up there during the week and while certain sections offered a ton of room to find a great spot, other sections had anglers almost every 25 feet.

Initially I drove all the way up to the dam just to get an idea of what the water looks like. It’s about 12 miles from the town up to the dam and the views of the river are frequent and easy as the road follows close by. There are a few people driving up and down the road all day. I would guess a car drives by every couple minutes,but traffic is mostly just something to be aware of if you’re walking the road between spots. The water sits down below the road in such a way that the road noise isn’t often something I was even aware of.

The fishing itself is incredible. I ended up fishing for about 6 hours total and only pulled a few fish out, but there’s definitely an ebb and flow to the fish based on whatever is hatching at the time or which section of the water happens to be active. I didn’t end up going to the “toilet bowl” which is the area just below the dam, known for having lots of record breaking fish. I mostly fished the public areas just south of that. There are lots of spots on the way up the river to fish, though they’re spread out between private waters. Private waters are all very clearly marked so there’s little risk of accidentally going where you shouldn’t be.

As far as which flies to use, the general consensus seems to be that anything will work if presented right. I had the best luck either nymphing with Copper Johns or keeping an Elk Hair Caddis floating on the surface. A dropper rig also seemed to work, but because of the inconsistent depth in most of the spots I was fishing, it was very hard to keep the nymph from sinking the surface fly.

Fryingpan is pretty easy to get to, not overcrowded, and great fishing. I’ll definitely be back.

Ruedi Dam Sign
The sign at the top of Ruedi Dam. Pretty view of the reservoir.


One of a few fish I pulled out


Another good sized fish