SEPTEMBER 18 (continued - sorry for the delayed post!!). I met up with my pals from the Michigan Fly Fishing Club (MFFC) yesterday. This morning we’re fishing the Frying Pan River tailwater just below Ruedi Reservoir Dam. The Michigan gang is upstream sight-fishing the flats for the large trout we all know inhabit them. Some of those trout are already rising to midges. Tiny midge pupa imitations are usually the ticket, but a #12 Green Drake dry fly can work wonders, too. There’s still a few green drakes coming off up and down the river and the trout don’t easily forget the good eats even though they are rising to a midge hatch.
It’s already getting a little crowded on the flats. I go downstream and squeeze in behind three or four fly fishers gathered at the top of the Bend Pool. They are casting tiny midge emerger imitations to dimpling trout. Midge imitations will do for now, but we’re all secretly hoping for a Blue-winged Olive hatch. I stand around for a while just watching the trout rise. I know trout will rise hundreds of times this morning and I’ll drift any number of different artificial fly imitations over them. I’ve fished here before and I also know that if I hook two or three fish it will be a good day.
I spot a very nice rainbow trout rising in a steady feeding rhythm six inches out from a mat of gooey algae next to the opposite bank. I can’t keep myself from watching him. I’m thinking this will be my trout today. I tie a stillborn midge pattern to the end of my 6X tippet and ask the trout for the next dance. …The trout completely ignores every presentation I make with every different fly I try for the next hour all the while never deviating from what has become a hypnotically steady feeding rhythm.
Two hours later the trout is still rising. He’s exhausted all my resources. I know I will not catch him today, but I’m obsessed. How can I not catch such a steady riser? But I can’t go on. I meet the Michigan guys at 2 PM and we head back to the cabin for lunch.
SEPTEMBER 19. I have to leave for home at noon today. The Michigan guys are heading way upstream past Ruedi Reservoir to fish for cutts and brookies in the high country. I’ll stay behind and fish the Pan for a few hours and then head back home.
It’s early, but I drive upstream to a pullout to check things out. Most of the water is still in the shade, but across the river the morning sun lights up a riffle that spreads out into a small pool. I see a trout rise. There are Blue-winged Olive duns on the surface. By the time I suit up and wade into casting position more trout are rising. I note that there is a larger brown trout against the opposite bank. I tell myself I will fish to it eventually, but why wade over there now with so many other rising trout between us? The sun lights the larger brown trout up. The tail and adipose fin are the indescribable orange that some Frying Pan River brown trout exhibit. That ups the ante. Throughout the morning I sneak glances at the trout. I am obsessed….again.
So it has to be. At the end of my fishing day I wade unsteadily through heavy current and slick streambed rubble into casting position. The larger orange-tail brown trout is rising in a steady rhythm to the supply of “olives” that the current carries its way. I try not to think about the similarities to yesterday’s very nice rainbow trout up on the flats. I’m going to cast a size 22 Snowshoe Hare BWO Emerger to this trout. Jim Cannon showed me this fly pattern many years ago. It’s a great fly imitation.
My first presentation isn’t exactly drag-free, but doesn’t spook the trout. In fact, the trout doesn’t miss a beat in its steady feeding rhythm. My second presentation is better. The orange tail brown trout tips up and casually takes the imitation just like it’s been taking the naturals. I hook up and land him. It’s a beautiful trout.