Fishing the Frying Pan River Above Basalt, Colorado | Fly Fishing Colorado
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Fishing the Frying Pan River Above Basalt, Colorado

The Frying Pan river is a renowned river for fly fishing throughout Colorado. The combination of gold rated waters, easy access, and beautiful scenery makes for some of the best fishing not only in Colorado but the world.

Fishing Colorado

Most land along the river is publicly owned allowing for several access points along the river. The river originates east of Aspen, Colorado in the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness area and flows south until the Ruedi Reservoir.

Where to Fish the Frying Pan

It is from the dam that the river becomes gold rated until it meets up with the Roaring Fork.  This is the section of river that you are going to want to fish if you are going for numerous big fish. Autumn and Winter are the best seasons to fish this river due to the large crowds that it attracts in the summer. During the fall, changing colors create beautiful vistas to enjoy during your time on the shores of “the Pan”. Winter time is best for pulling lots of big fish because so many fish happen to be hatching at that time.

What Fish You’ll Catch in the Frying Pan

Brown trout are the most common fish pulled from the Frying Pan River. Rainbow Trout, Cutthroats, and Brookies may also be caught along the Pan, but the Browns are going to be the largest that you will pull – sometimes over 14 inches! The waters below the dam offer the largest fish, but the only drawback is the crowds you’ll see there. This zone is called the ‘toilet bowl’ by locals, due to its deep waters and often crowded shores.

Our insider tip: Head to the river at the crack of dawn… the early bird gets the worm, after all.

Brown Trout Colorado Fishing

If this doesn’t sound like the quiet, peaceful experience that fishing was supposed to promise, try making your way upstream of the reservoir for some less crowded small stream fishing. If you’re a first-timer for angling, this quieter and smaller stream will make it easier to practice casting. Artificial lures and flies are required, as well as catch and release for all fish but Brown Trout, which are limited to two fish per person.

Where to Stay When Fishing the Frying Pan

The Pan is centrally located to several tourist destinations. First and foremost is Aspen. Aspen is recommended for those looking for top notch amenities including lodging, eating, and guiding. Glenwood Springs is a great middle-of-the-road option.  It’s not too far off the beaten path and is a bit more affordable than Aspen. Glenwood also offers the option of some hot springs, which are excellent after a long day on the river.

If you are looking for something a bit more adventurous bring your camping gear and find a spot on any of Colorado’s public lands. This will allow you to get on the river earlier, save money, and truly immerse yourself in the outdoors. There are several campgrounds and RV parks scattered throughout the area that are worth checking out if that is more your style.

If you aren’t comfortable taking on the river alone yet, or you don’t have the necessary gear to do so, call Fly Fishing Colorado.  Our guided tours on the Upper Colorado River will have you set up in a fishing framed raft and your guide knows all the secret spots at any given time of year to try to catch a monster.


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