Fly Fishing in the Colorado Rivers

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Ruedi reservoir colorado

When I think of fly fishing, my mind always goes back to those beautiful scenes from the 1992 Robert Redford directed movie, “A River Runs Through It”. I know it was set in Montana and not in Colorado, but there are such amazing scenes of the river glistening and alive. I can still see Brad Pitt (obviously the rebel son) standing beside his brother, and the fluid movement of the fly rod playing over the water.

So, what is it about fly fishing? I’ve heard it called the Contemplative Man’s Recreation, by biographer Izaak Walton (who also wrote a book called The Compleat Angler,so I guess he would know!).  Personally, it conjures up pictures of timelessness. I see visions of rapidly flowing water reflecting the golden sunlight. I see men mostly, dressed in thigh-high waders, patiently flicking their fly lines over the water. I know they make most of their lures, or flies, by hand and I have seen this in process. It’s quite a tricky business.

So, where can one do fly fishing in Colorado and what is one actually fishing for? It seems there is a distinction between cold and warm water species, but for the most part in Colorado one will be trout fishing (although salmon is also a favorite).

Talk to Colorado fishermen and they go all starry-eyed as they describe in detail to you about the North Fork of the South Platte River, and how the best fly fishing happens just outside the Roberts Tunnel. Here you will find a whole range of fisheries catering to every whim. Some of the areas are restricted and can only be fished by license, but there are areas that are open to public fishing.

Colorado has dozens of blue ribbon fisheries, so finding a place to fish is not a problem, but each fisherman is sure to tell you about a spot that is just perfect for rainbow trout or for wild brown trout. One of the places that has proven popular and where the trout grow really big is The Frying Pan, a tailwater below the Ruedi reservoir dam. They get really big because they feed off the mysis shrimp sent down from the reservoir.

Other popular spots are the Colorado, the Arkansas, the Yampa and the Taylor Rivers. For really big trout year round you can also try the Gunnison or the Rio Grande, but be careful because it can be freezing in winter!

In the end, it’s all about what suits you. There is plenty to choose from, so get some flies tied and pinned to your hat; get your waders out and get yourself down to the river for some serious contemplating!

Photo credit: Cliff Williams via flickr

This is a guest post from Aaron Garcia, a fishing and travel enthusiast who enjoys fly fishing on the Elk River.  His top three travel spots are Steamboat Springs, Colorado (which offers great fishing and other outdoor vacation opportunities), Sedona, Arizona, and Chicago.

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