Fall presents the best time for fly fishing in Colorado
Low stream flows, uncrowded rivers, beautiful color, and hungry fish combine to make fly-fishing in the fall the most spectacular season of the all
Fly-fishing in Colorado is, really, a year-round activity, with each season presenting its own set of challenges and benefits. Fall, however, can be especially spectacular, not only with the autumnal color that lights up the mountains and the plains of the Centennial State, but also with the spawning trout species eager for a fight and just about every great fish looking to fatten up for the lean, cold months ahead. In any case, the fall months are favorites among the most experienced anglers.
Of course, fall is a tough definition for Colorado, depending on where you are. The season itself is, of course, Sept. 22 to Dec. 22 on the calendar, but in Colorado those dates will run the gamut from summer to winter. Up in the far reaches of the high country, winter begins to set in by early October, and in the plains of southern Colorado summer temps can last well into November. In between, in all areas, there will be wintery days, summery days, heat, cold, rain, and snow as the storms and pressures ridges move through. About the only thing you can really count on from year to year is that the sunrise and sunset will increasingly limit the daylight hours.
But there are a few things about autumn that are important factors in fall fly-fishing throughout Colorado.
The best among these is that the streams and rivers of the state, fed as they are in large part by snow melt, will be at their lowest run of the year in the fall months – unless, of course, you hit a stream just down below a reservoir that a thirsty town below is tapping for extra water late in the year. These low stream flows, coupled with the bright blue Colorado sky, will make for a visual presentation that is nearly impossible to find any other time of the year. Experienced Colorado fly anglers take some extra gear with them in the fall: pen and paper. The stream is low and the rapids are in a gentle phase, making this the best time of the year to take notes on one’s favorite fishing spots, noting the ledges, boulders, sunken logs and other underwater features that would be less visible in the summer. Mapping this out in the fall can help any angler navigate the river better, documenting the shallows and deep spots, and hoping the data gathered will pay dividends in the height of the warm season next year.
Another advantage of fall fly-fishing in Colorado is solitude. Gone are all of the kids to school, the summer tourists back to their flat-lander pursuits, and the fair-weather casters who would never dream of dressing in multiple layers to fish. Those left on the river, should you run into any of them, are the experts – they are there for the beauty and quiet. They will avoid sharing top spots, or making inquiries to others - fall fly-fishing in Colorado is about fish, the angler and his/her own thoughts.
The biggest draw, however, is the fishing itself. Kokanee and brown trout spawn in the fall, and -- without disturbing the spawning action -- the run, particularly right after the spawn, is an excellent time for landing large ones as they are especially hungry and beefing up for winter. Additionally, the fall sees the emergence of midges, mayflies, caddis flies, stoneflies, minnows, eggs and aquatic earthworms – all part of Mother Nature’s plan to help the fish prepare for winter and to help the angler take a lasting memory of success into the drudgery of winter.
The best flies to take on a Colorado fly fishing adventure in the fall will vary by stream type, species type and, most importantly, altitude. The kind of food sources abundant in the stream or streamside could vary widely over even a few miles if the stream changes elevation rapidly. And even up high, when it appears that winter has set in, that great fall weather – and food sources – can emerge from an early frost and snow to present some of the best fly fishing possible for several weeks. There are many places in the state famous for “Indian Summer”, and these periods can be especially wonderful times for fly fishing.
Check with us here at Trout’s Fly Fishing, the West’s premier fly fishing shop, online resource and educational center. We can help with fly selection, location scouting, and anything fly fishing. Call 877-464-0034 for complete details.