On the Fly column: Help the Fryingpan River by keeping that next fish | PostIndependent.com

On the Fly column: Help the Fryingpan River by keeping that next fish

The Fryingpan River is the lifeblood of Basalt. If you live here, you probably know it intimately. If you are visiting, this little river will spoil you compared to your home waters. Those of us who know it intimately see vast numbers of smaller brown trout throughout the river. Brown trout have been thriving here for years; they reproduce prolifically compared to their rainbow and cutthroat cousins. Shocking surveys this year confirm the fact that the Fryingpan is loaded with trout. Especially browns.

Many resident and visiting anglers practice catch and release on the Fryingpan. I’m here to tell you this doesn’t always have to be the case. The law allows adult anglers to harvest two brown trout per day, less than 14 inches in length. Browns haven’t been stocked here in the valley in recent memory, and they have no problems with whirling disease or reproductive health. Do you have those days when it seems all you can catch are smaller browns? Let’s start thinning the herd.

Larger, dominant brown trout could be a reality riverwide if we all started keeping a few here and there. Kendall Bakich, aquatic biologist for the Colorado Parks and Wildlife, has recently compiled the data from this year’s shocking survey. She is presenting her data to the Roaring Fork Valley Fly Fishing Club at 5:30 on Tuesday, Dec. 17, at the Basalt Library, and I highly encourage you to attend.

The fact of the matter is that the Fryingpan has too many small brown trout. Most of you remember the numbers of big fish in the river years ago. Competition for food (aided by whirling disease) has changed this dynamic, and brown trout seem to have taken over. Most anglers would rather have shots at bigger fish versus higher numbers of fish, plain and simple. Catch and release is a very good thing, and keeping fish is usually a pain, but harvesting a few here and there is perfectly legal and will benefit anglers and trout alike.

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at (970) 927-4374 or taylorcreek.com.

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