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The Toilet Bowl: Closed FOREVER?
Fly Fishing News Vail Colorado

The Toilet Bowl: Closed FOREVER?

Mike S.

Latest Update from the CPW:

Ladies and Gentlemen this Toilet Bowl is closed. While this might not be the headliner most people would focus upon, this is different. This is The Toilet Bowl, known world wide for the massive fish that inhabit the depths of its reaches and for the dispersal of a misunderstood food source. Located at the tailwater for Ruedi Reservoir sits the beginning of the World class trout fishery known as the Fryingpan River. Gold medal waters in Colorado are a special treat and the Fryingpan River is a favorite on most anglers’ lists with the Toilet Bowl as the crowning jewel.

From the base of the dam bubbles forth a frothy mix of cold water, Mysis shrimp and huge trout. Anglers have for years plopped their heavyweight flies into the strong current with the hopes of hooking and landing a possible fish of a lifetime. All that is changing under the frozen guides and colorful airlock strike indicators of anglers standing on the banks in the cold shadows found at the top of the Fryingpan Canyon.

Wait What?!

Firsthand reports have been trickling in from anglers’ runoff of Sheriff Deputies enforcing the trespass laws at the base of the dam. Despite being located in the middle of White River National Forest, the privately owned dam facility has chosen to have the public locked out of one of the most famous fishy spots in the United States, a place where anglers have gathered for decades.

Part of the Legacy

Interwoven into the psyche of fly fishers, this area has been the catalyst for iconic fly patterns developed to deal with the highly educated trout. Will Sands created a fly pattern spawned from the high protein, Mysis shrimp that are regularly flushed through the dam into the tailwaters. Charlie Craven another Colorado based fly tyer has a Mysis pattern too that addresses the same issues. Roy Palm is known for the midge pattern he designed for the Fryingpan trout as well. Not just hallowed waters anglers revere but the practice field for fly design and development.

The Facts

It seems a series of events have spurned the recent enforcement. Reports of a Recreational Vehicle exploding at the base of the dam during the past summer have raised concerns that the dam is a target for homeland security to protect. Knowledgeable anglers with their thumb on the pulse of social media will undoubtedly recall videos of scuba divers and Stand Up Paddleboarders floating around the toilet bowl without remorse for their effects, pushing the envelope of acceptability. Some of the concern is certainly warranted for without the first hand working knowledge of a hydroelectric dam poking around the depths at its base in scuba gear has to unnerve certain individuals. Having the audacity to float a SUP serves to only infuriate wading anglers who have for years conducted themselves with civility and poise in a somewhat crowded venue. Only a few times since 1992 have I witnessed guides with little to no tact when it comes to crowded fishing conditions. Most of the time anglers located at the Toilet Bowl are jovial and friendly to share the spot and their heater with whomever asks.

What We Know

Recent phone calls to both Pitkin County and Eagle County Sheriff offices have lead to conflicting enforcement protocols. The lowdown is that according to the Eagle County Sheriff’s office there is to be no trespassing within 100 feet of the base of the dam a “designation that has been in place for sometime.” Eagle County sheriffs are patrolling the area twice daily, when possible. Firsthand accounts of Deputies warning anglers and recording personal information have been reported. Local fly shops have confirmed these reports.

 So whether it is the cumulative affects of borderline acceptable practices or the true to life dangers this site poses as a target for Homeland Security to defend - one thing for certain is that the closing of this Toilet Bowl will be noticed. Anglers will miss what has been the chance to catch the “fish of a lifetime” swimming within sight of your wading boots and willing to eat a well-presented fly. Only time will tell if the enforcement will wane or if the adverse affects of loosing one of the prime fishing locations on the Fryingpan River will force even more congestion into the downstream access points and river stretches.

read more blog posts from Mike S.
  • semajsr
     1/14/2018 12:26:48 AM
    what was the result of the Jan8th meeting with CPW,Dam operators and LE
  • tomrosh
     12/17/2017 2:55:38 PM
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