Hoping to beat the packs of children awake, we packed quickly and quietly the morning of July 7th.  Our accommodations were not as secluded as we had grown accustomed to, so we all were a little cranky and ready to get back to a more wilderness setting.  Equipped with a plan, we skedaddled out of the campground, and headed to our next destination. 

In our haste to get on the road no one bothered to check the map.  After driving for awhile, someone finally had a stroke of genius and checked the map.  Alas, we were headed in the totally opposite direction from our desired spot.  This was not good news, until Matt “eye spied” a waterfall.  This seemed to lift spirits, at least temporarily.


IMG_1129 Trees grow in the darnedest places


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After Brooke and I played in the waterfall, we decided to head the RIGHT way.  Our destination – The Frying Pan River and Ruedi Reservoir.  Frying Pan Anglers in Basalt was our first stop so we could load up on flies.  Once again, we had much difficulty finding a place to camp.  For a moment I thought Brooke was going to drive us into the lake.  The consummate negotiator, Matt, finds us a place to camp and appeases Brooke’s nerves.  All of us were so sick of driving around aimlessly.  As luck would have it, I found a map of campgrounds in the bathroom.  Yep, in the bathroom.  Turns out earlier in the day we were headed right for one of those campgrounds, but oh well.  It was just a thing of ironic beauty at that moment. 

Hoping to calm some nervous and generate some smiles, we headed to the Frying Pan to fish.  Where had this river been the whole trip?  Calm, clear water with just the right amount of riffles appeared as we drove down the access road.  All of us anglers, thought FINALLY a place that we are 100% comfortable fishing.  Not only was the water considerably slower, we could see the trout hiding behind our legs, resting from the current.  These were not small fish either, but big beautiful ‘bows, browns and cutthroats.  We all froze, the water temp was 40 degrees.  Brooke took some time out to go spend with Matt, but by god I wanted her to catch a fish.  I went up and grabbed her, and told Dustin to put her on some trout.  Perhaps he is a guide in the making, because he succeeded!  Brooke caught her first fish of the trip, and it also happened to be her first brownie!  YAY!  All of us had pretty good luck that first night, even though we froze our collective tails off. 

IMG_1136 IMG_1139 Brooke’s first Brownie!

IMG_1140There’s a smile under that hat as Brooke releases her brownie

IMG_1138They grow them beautiful in the Frying Pan

Deciding it was time for me to stop fishing, after all I had just almost fell in because my feet were completely numb from the cold, I headed out of the water to go grab a drink with Brooke and Matt.  On my down to get Dustin out of the water, I run into the guy I saw nabbing fish all evening.  Turns out, he is a guide, one cool dude and is named Matt (go figure…we meet guides named Dustin & Matt).  He invites us all to hang with him and his buddy.  He even feeds us, and lets us in on some Frying Pan secrets.  We spend all evening laughing and exchanging stories.  Originally from Montana, Matt left his day job to pursue his passion.  As is always the case, he hasn’t “worked” a day since.  His friend, Nick,  was also hoping to do just the same.  Leaving all his possessions, and steady paycheck behind in Athens, GA, Nick hit the road with his pup to chase all the western hatches.  Nick’s decided he loves the Frying Pan, and wants to call it home.  Matt, being the awesome guy he is, has taken this dude under his wing and is getting him started.  I told you, this Matt guy is one cool dude. 

Several rum lemonades and beers later, we decide we have to get back to camp.  Dustin and I tried to hang for a bit, but we were beyond exhausted.  Brooke ended up passing out on Matt as he was cooking dinner; this was in remarkably similar fashion as she does at home 🙂 It was a good night, and came just when we needed it. 

If you are going to be in the Aspen area, call Matt for a guided fishing trip.  For two days, we watched this guy show his clients the honey holes, and they hammered fish…big fish.  I am guessing you’ll have the time of your life.  I know when we go again, we are spending a day on The Pan with Matt!  Find his website here.

Hoping to hit The Pan again soon,


PS: We leave for Canada in 6 days!!!! 

Written by Stephanie Mullins

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