Author: Trouts Staff
When you ask somebody to tell you what comes to mind when you say “Colorado Fly Fishing”, most people would mention 2 things: the Rocky Mountains and Trout. The reality is that fly fishing in this state is very closely associated with the resident trout (Rainbow, Brown, Brook, Cutbow and Cutthroat), and not the many other species that fill our local ponds, lakes, reservoirs and rivers. Yet every Fall, the Kokanee Salmon make their annual migration out of a few or our states reservoirs, and essentially goes from being a complete anomaly to fly anglers to being a highly sought after species. Yet there still remains a large number of fly anglers who are completely unaware of this species, particularly how much fun they can be to catch on a fly rod.
The Kokanee Salmon is essentially a land-locked Pacific Sockeye Salmon. These fish were first introduced to lakes and reservoirs in the interior US starting in the early 1900’s, and these stocking programs continue today. Because they don’t venture from saltwater to freshwater, Kokanee Salmon are much smaller than their androgynous brethren, and only get to be about 1lb – 3lb. It’s also important to point out that except for a few exceptions, Kokanee don’t ever successfully spawn. As a result, local fish and wildlife agencies have to do annual stockings to maintain adequate population numbers. Yet although these fish don’t successfully spawn, it is during the spawning period where this species becomes accessible to fly anglers as they will seek out gravelly shore lines in reservoirs, or small tributary streams to swim up and “spawn”. Just like any other salmon species, once they begin their spawn these fish stop eating and will eventually die.
For anybody well versed at fly fishing in the Rocky Mountain West, there is little doubt that Fall is one of the best times of year for fishing. The mountains are lit in vibrant shades of yellow, orange and red, river flows are low and clear, trout are hungry and aggressive in anticipation of winter, and crowds are typically non existent. Yet despite the long list of advantages to fishing this time of year, a successful day on the water isn’t always a certainty. This usually has not to do with poor fishing conditions, but rather simple misunderstandings on the part of the fisherman. In hopes of providing some wisdom on this issue, as well as maximizing your time on the water, here are a few suggestions for any angler venturing out during the Fall.
The Early Bird Doesn’t Always Catch the Worm: while being the first angler on the water is a proven advantage during the summer months, this strategy won’t always prove as successful during the fall. The reason being that as we progress into fall, night time and morning temperatures begin to fall, leading to much colder water temperatures during the early and late times of day.