A last minute trip had Chad, myself and Matt headed out to the Pan late on Friday night. We arrived at a cheap motel around 9:15 in Glenwood Springs - grabbed the room key and then hit Village Inn for a quick bite. We were basck in the room at around 10:15 - had a beer or two, watched some Soup and then passed out. I was lucky enough to draw the floor - but hey, I controlled the heat in the room and kept the place at a nice 75 degrees!
We got up around 6am, hit the free breakfast at 6:30 and were on the river (after a nice 30 minte drive) around 7:15. The morning was, how do you say this nicely? Frickin freezing! Literally. It was 19 degrees when we left Glenwood Springs, and the Ruedi Canyon had to be about 5 degrees colder. We went straight for the dam - stopping at the bend pool. I fished the gage station to no avail - but honestly I wasn't all that upset since had I caught a fish I would have had to touch it and get my hands wet. The water was not the problem, as it was at least 34 degrees, it was the pain of having wet hands in the cold for even a few seconds. The water was emitting a nice little steam. I took this photo immediately when we arrived - it is the sun hitting the upper stretches of the canyon - this is probably about 800 feet above us.
I didn't catch a thing - I had switched from nyphing to streamers to even dry flies as the fish were hitting the surface on something other than a size 20 BWO. Matt had some luck, but spent most of his time down in the shadows - he said it took him 10 minutes to tie a single knot - so that wasn't much fun. The sun him the gage station first, so I was lucky enough to enjoy some warmth. Chad of course was catching everything, he had tons of luck on an 18 mysis pattern. This was a brown he fished out of hole just below the waterfall.
Around 11 am we moved down about 1/4 mile to one of our favorite holes. I started getting into a couple fish, but I did have a very large fish get off on me. I fished up and down this section with minimal luck. Chad and Matt headed down river and we met back at the car around 1pm. We moved down river again to one of Chad's favorite spots - a place where he had some great luck the last time we were here. He and Matt headed the opposite way again. I fished a deep channel with no luck. The water was way down this year - flows were about 70 cfs and that is very very low for this river. Avg flows are around 100+ cfs, and many of my familiar spots were very very shallow. Also, because the sun doesn't really get "overhead" in the winter the light was messed up, so you couldn't tell if the hole you were fishing to was 4 inches or 4 feet deep. That throws off a nymph fisherman pretty badly. I suffered through some slow times until I finally got the weight and indicator depth correct and then I picked up a couple of hits.
We moved down to our last stretch - it was getting "late" about 4pm. I could actually see CHad and Matt within eye shot. I was fishing this strange run that had a huge rock you could stand 10 feet above the water on, but the hole was practically unfishable due to a tree being down at the top of the pool, all the water pushed against the rock, and there were two or three large trees that were under water with branches make a deep nymphing style of fishing impossible. I floated my nymph rig through this section a few times, then said the heck with it - I put the rig right into the danger zone - and hook a pretty brown trout! The pic below is of the brown - he wasn't long (about 15 inches) but he was thick and fiesty, and his coloration was magnificent. He was almost an orange on his belly with deep blues and dark red spots. He had a small blue patch on his cheek - he was a really good looking fish.
I fished a few yards more down to the guys - who were picking up fish left an right on egg patterns. They were standing near each other standing on the huge red rocks that lined both sides of the river, casting streamers to hungry fish - I think they both caught 6 fish each in a half hour or so. It was about 5:30 and we called it a day. We stopped in Glenwood for Wendy's and then I made it home by 9:05pm. A long day, but it was gorgeous. Although the temperature may have hit 40 degrees in the canyon we were all chilled to the bone - I slept in front of an electric heater last night hoping to get the chill out.