frying pan river colorado

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Frying Pan River in Colorado

When searching for a Gold Medal fly fishing destination with year round access and plenty of hatches, the Frying Pan River, located east of Basalt, Colorado in the White River National Forest, is a perfect choice.

Here you’ll find wild trout -- Browns, Rainbows, Cutthroats and Brookies -- amidst serious anglers determined to catch them.

Nicknamed the Pan, the Gold Medal section of the river flows west for 14 miles from below the Ruedi Reservoir dam to the Roaring Fork at Basalt. Along the banks of the scenic canyon through which the river flows are beautiful tall evergreen pines and red sandstone formations.

Dry Fly Action on the Frying Pan River in Colorado

Best Places to Fish the Frying Pan River

There is ample access to the fine fly fishing to be found at the Pan. The river runs through land owned by the state or that is part of the White River National Forest.

The 14-mile Gold Medal stretch that runs from the dam to the town of Basalt includes 8-9 miles of public access. Public access points are shown on the map below.  Click the map icons to get driving directions.

Frying Pan River Map and Fishing Access Sites

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Fryingpan River (Colorado): 39.369473, -106.854187
FRYINGPAN RIVER NEAR RUEDI, CO.: 39.365541, -106.825595
Fryingpan River (North Fork Headwaters): 39.358060, -106.514254
Fryingpan River (South Fork Headwaters): 39.162477, -106.561289
Fryingpan River (Headwaters): 39.164441, -106.527858
Fryingpan River (Confluence): 39.368511, -107.035761
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.373046, -107.019807
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.376109, -106.978713
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.379604, -106.968869
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.376467, -106.943093
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.379119, -106.917277
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.375112, -106.869827
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.370833, -106.867788
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.365457, -106.845895
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.362548, -106.845565
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.362896, -106.829773
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.363837, -106.822676
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.385113, -106.797659
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.367265, -106.786385
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.363319, -106.776005
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.362334, -106.741088
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.361266, -106.737751
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.355140, -106.740463
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.363344, -106.715618
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.352896, -106.691526
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.347648, -106.680948
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.343091, -106.668505
Fryingpan River, North Fork: 39.344323, -106.614169
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.316072, -106.642635
Fryingpan River (White River National Forest): 39.298020, -106.605840
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.268745, -106.604164
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.256304, -106.597284
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.238964, -106.590246
Fryingpan River (Hunter-Frying Pan Wilderness): 39.244485, -106.530347
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.347574, -106.587017
Fryingpan River (Fishing Access): 39.359532, -106.539568
Frying Pan: 39.363700, -106.823200
Fryingpan River (Frying Pan River SWA): 39.379727, -106.937713
Fryingpan River, North Fork: 39.344183, -106.614120
Frying Pan River: 39.361500, -106.830600
Frying Pan River SWA: 39.378759, -106.939150

Download the DIY Fly Fishing App to get turn-by-turn directions to access points shown on the map above. 

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Frying Pan River Flow and Current Conditions


  • Flow: 239 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 2.03 ft

Best Time to Fish the Fryingpan River

In summer, from the end of June to September, the Green Drake mayfly is prolific, and so are the crowds. Look to dry fly fish from afternoon to evening. Autumn months bring beautiful mountain vistas of fall colors and big fish, too -- it’s the favorite season of local guides.

During winter some of the best fly fishing and the largest fish catches occur. Crowds are smaller but midge hatches are big every day. Spring is the scene of new hatches of Caddis and Blue Wing Olive flies and the trout tend to feed out in the open.

Frying Pan River Fishing Tips

Look to Green Drake flies through the summer months and Blue Winged Olives in the spring and fall. During winter it’s Midge fishing time, and in the tailwater, Mysis shrimp, if you’re in the first mile of the spillway. Use dry flies for Brookies.

For fishing all but the upper headwaters, a 5 or 6 weight fly line is preferred, as are 5 or 6 weight fly rods. A 7.5 foot leader will serve you anywhere along the river except when you are fishing streamers, though there may be times you’ll want to go as high as 12 feet. Bring extra tippets, sized 0X to 6X. Don’t forget the waders.

If your budget includes funds for employing a professional guide service or you’re in need of some expert tips in the fine art of casting a fly, there are ample services along these lines, though you should thoroughly research them and be sure to book early. If you arrive and discover the equipment you brought with you is lacking in any way, there are local fly shops available with the latest and greatest equipment for you to purchase.

Frying Pan River Fishing Reports

There are a number of area fly shops and on-line retailers that publish Frying Pan River fishing reports. A few to check out are listed below.

Frying Pan River Fishing Regulations

In addition to your fishing gear you’re going to need a fishing license, either as a Colorado resident or as a non-resident. This can be purchased online either as a one-day, five-day or annual license.

It’s also a good idea to review the Colorado Fishing brochure from Colorado Parks & Wildlife to make sure you’re current on regulations covering limits and size requirements. Due to the high elevation, bring suitable clothing to keep you warm regardless of the season in which you choose to visit.

Planning Your Trip To Frying Pan River

If you’re flying into Colorado, the closest airport is the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport in Aspen, some 17 miles southeast of Basalt. From either Glenwood Springs or Aspen take Highway 82 to Basalt, then Road 105 to the Ruedi Reservoir.

During summer you can get to the river from the east beginning at Hagerman Pass. You’ll take Road 105, starting in Leadville, and pass through Turquoise Lake on your way to Ruedi Reservoir, but be advised this is not an easy drive. If traveling by air be sure and book your flight early.

You’ll find affordable accommodations in Basalt, a town standing at an elevation of 6,600 feet and with a population of around 4,000 residents. Whether you’re looking for lodging with multiple bedrooms or mountain style single rooms, there’s plenty of hotels and cabins available, some even located right along the banks of the river.

Restaurants are locally owned and offer varied fare at a good price. Though the economy is centered around fly fishing, the town is also a hub for mountain biking through the Roaring Fork valley, and for its extensive network of cross country and downhill skiing trails branching out for 15 miles up and down the valley.


Looking for more places to fish? Visit our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in Colorado.

About the Author Ken Sperry

Ken is an avid fisherman of 40+ years who loves to explore and is on a quest to map the best places for fly fishing in America. He created the DIY Fly Fishing App to share this information and help you find new places to fish.