Salomone: Special faces deserve special places |

Salomone: Special faces deserve special places

A day spent fishing the Fryingpan River is a day well spent

Michael Salomone
On the Fly
The author holding a brown trout caught on the Fryingpan River.
Me and a Fryingpan brown trout

When a special face shows up at your home, everything else all of the sudden seems irrelevant. The arrival of my brother spurned such a reaction. Plans for fishing were solidified, replacing the attention projects and jobs necessitated. We would make a trip down to the Fryingpan River. After all, special faces deserve special places.

The Eagle River has broken free from the canopy of ice that covered it for most of the winter. Water from the recent melt has colored the river an unattractive shade. With little chance of salvaging an outing on the Eagle, we opted to invest the time for the short drive down valley to access the Fryingpan River.

Trips in the past to this world-famous tailwater have proven successful. My brother greets any chance to fish the Pan as a good thing. After all, the fish there thrive in ideal conditions year round, making a day angling on the Fryingpan River a cherished experience for anyone.

The author and his brother Dan at the Fryingpan River during a recent trip this spring.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

The morning illuminated the accumulation of new snow. Thick stacks piled high on river rocks. Roadside plow piles hinted at the weight the storm delivered. But we drove on.

The road along the river grew increasingly narrow during our ascent up the Fryingpan River Valley. Snowplows tried to beat back the drifts. The turn off the main road to access the Toilet Bowl at the base of the dam had a two-foot high snow-plowed berm hampering our approach. Already in four-wheel drive, we punched through the obstacle and descended towards the river.

Support Local Journalism

No plow had given the tiny access road any thought. I jockeyed my Tacoma down the few sets of tire tracks that cut through the foot of new-fallen snow. Bouncing and sliding, we pushed to the parking lot, where a couple of other foolish anglers had left their rigs. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones who battled the snow storm to obtain a day of angling.

My brother loves to dredge Mysis Shrimp flies and the dam is one of the few places where anglers get the chance, but the Toilet Bowl was occupied. We watched for a few minutes as the angler in the Bowl lost a huge fish right at his feet. We tried not to giggle — we’ve been there too.

Not to be discouraged, we walked down river below the flats to the Bend Hole. Anglers were scattered about fishing in the shallow, flat water. One angler was near the top of the Bend, so we hurried down the road to cross the river before someone else claimed the prime spot.

Dan holds the rainbow trout that he caught fishing the Fryingpan River.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

Worried about the other anglers, I pushed the limits of my brother’s wading abilities. He tried to keep up. The result was a boot stuck in between rocks. During the struggle to free his foot, Dan pulled the sole off his boot. Snow and ice gathered under the arch of his foot, ultimately ending the day from chilly toes.

But for now, we were sight fishing. The fish were not coming easily as anticipated; we had to work a bit. As usual, the size of the fly was key. With visible feeding activity around us, we sifted through my selection of minuscule nymphs in a trial-and-error effort to determine the most attractive pattern. Once we determined the effective fly, it was all about presentation to seal the deal.

It was a game of finesse nymphing. Short leader lengths between flies and strike indicators paired up with a tandem of small emergers turned out to be the correct answer. We netted trout after trout just like we were kids catching bluegills for a fish fry.

It’s a given that brothers who grew up fishing never stop fishing. From one side of the United States to the other and from the northern boundaries to the southern and all along the spine of the Rockies — we have fished. There has never been a discussion about, “Do you want to fish?” It has always been “Where are we going fishing?”

We were in the midst of bliss, catching fish and netting each other’s catch when my brother exclaimed, “This is my favorite place in the state — no — the galaxy.” That will make you smile.

When certain people like brothers arrive, the focus life throws at you suddenly realigns your perspective. Opportunities for time on the water becomes the drive for extended stays, lengthy travels and new opportunities. After all, special people deserve special places.

The Fryingpan River never disappoints.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

Support Local Journalism