If you took a poll to name the five most popular rivers in the West, the Fryingpan would definitely be on everyone’s list. The fabled tail water section of the Fryingpan attracts a gaggle of anglers to fish Colorado who are trying to test their mettle on her monster trout. The incredible insect life and mysis shrimp present an all-you-can-eat menu to the monster trout and for Breckenridge fly fishing trips an all-you-can-fish opportunity.
Locally known as the Pan, the river’s name stems from a local legend. The legend says that Indians attacked two early settlers while trapping beavers on the river. One settler escaped. When he returned with help, the only remnants of his wounded partner was a frying pan hanging from a tree. Today, the only remains of defeated Breckenridge fly fishing anglers are the tandem flies hanging in the willows.
The famed waters of the Fryingpan pour out of Ruedi Reservoir, which offers a consistent, clear, and cold flow. The river is fishable above the reservoir; however, public access is limited. The tail water section is designated Gold Medal Water and is strictly catch-and-release. The unsurpassed beauty and trophy trout potential clearly deserves its national reputation and continues to attract anglers far and wide to fish Colorado.
While we think every angler should experience the “Toilet Bowl,” many of the lower stretches of the Pan offer excellent trout habitat and prime dry fly fishing water. The Pan has prolific hatches throughout the summer, and many times the hordes of people on Breckenridge fly fishing trips ignore the lower sections passing up exceptional fishing opportunities.
As one of only three tail waters in the state offering mysis shrimp (also including the Blue and Taylor Rivers), nymphing is the most productive option for dredging up a monster trout. The local fish are now extremely educated because they are under almost constant fishing pressure from anglers attempting to fish Colorado water. Only a perfect drift and a large dose of luck will coax one of the brutes into sharing its magic. Finally, once you hook one of the behemoths, there is no guarantee you will land the trophy.
Flowing into the Roaring Fork River, the Fryingpan’s proximity to Aspen and Snowmass results in a constant influx of people with Breckenridge fly fishing companies competing with Aspen and Glenwood for fishable water. Even the bitter winter months boast large crowds and weary trout. While every angler should test their skills on the Pan, only the most skilled anglers will find success.