Angler's Delight: The Lowdown on Fishing the Roaring Fork and Frying Pan Rivers

By Kelly J. Hayes | February 11, 2021 |


Aspen may have been founded as a silver-mining town, but Basalt is based on gold, for it’s in the heart of town that the Gold Medal Roaring Fork and Frying Pan rivers converge. There are over 9,000 miles of trout streams in Colorado, but just 322 qualify as Gold Medal—a designation that defines waters that produce 60 pounds of trout per acre, with trout at least 14 inches. Browns, rainbows, cutthroats and brookies are all on offer in both rivers, and the best spots can often be lined with anglers looking to catch (and release) a trophy. Valuable waters indeed. And fly-fishing in Colorado is a four-season sport. While the fishing season typically peaks between April and October, early- and late-season weather can change rapidly, and water depth and temperature can fluctuate. As warmer weather typically lures more people to the river, try heading out earlier, or later, in the day. Cold weather brings its own challenges, but some folks consider the quiet rivers (and hungry fish) to be a boon. In any case, checking weather forecasts, and considering appropriate gear, clothing and flies for the conditions, will help your fly-fishing experience soar. Local shops offer everything from guide services to tips on river conditions and gear. Consult with the pros at Taylor Creek Fly Shop (183 Basalt Center Circle, Basalt, 970.927.4374, or Frying Pan Anglers (231 Midland Ave., Basalt, 970.927.3441,

Photography by: JAN FILLEM