With the crowds gone, the foliage in full color, and the fish hungry and frisky, expert anglers agree that fall in Colorado offers the finest fly fishing anywhere and they offer the top spots
Colorado is a world-wide destination for fly fishing, as there are thousands of miles of streams in the mountains and plains, and hundreds of ponds, lakes and reservoirs that offer fly fishers unparalleled access to the finest fresh-water fish on earth. Trout of every stripe, kokanee salmon, bass, muskie, crappie, catfish, walleye, splake - there's a challenge nearly everywhere in the clear, cold waters of Colorado.
And autumn is a particular popular season for the veteran fly fisher for a variety of reasons. First, of course, is the solitude: with kids back in school and the majority of summer tourists back home, even the most popular streams, reservoirs and lakes feature little company or competition. Then there's the weather: the fall in Colorado is spectacular, with warm sunny days, cool starry nights, and foliage colors unmatched in the West.
But of course, it's the fish that matter. In the fall, several species, including the venerable brown trout, are spawning in Colorado streams, and once finished with their labors they need to fatten up for the long winter. In this season all types of fish are especially hungry and frisky, which makes the angling possibilities endless and the fight well worth the effort.
Seasoned anglers mark their calendars for September, October and November in Colorado as possible the best fly fishing on earth.
Colorado offers many opportunities for excellent fly fishing, from remote back-country sites and guided tours for Colorado river fishing, to day trips from major cities and resort locales where the famous Colorado trout - rainbows, cutthroat, brownies, brookies and lake trout - are abundant and ferocious.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife (http://wildlife.state.co.us/) is an excellent source of information on available species and places to go, and of course the Internet is replete with fishing blogs, fishing guide sites, and a wealth of information that is a gateway to Colorado fly fishing.
Truth be told, in Colorado no one is ever more than a few miles from a great fly fishing spot, but here are five premier locations that expert anglers agree are among the very best locations for successful, memory-laden Colorado fly fishing:
Blue River: The Blue River is a medium-size river in the central part of the state near the Continental Divide, and one of the most scenic fishing spots in the state. Experts believe the best fly fishing on the river is from the Dillon Reservoir dam down to the Colorado River, between the town of Dillon to the Green Mountain Reservoir. While most of the water borders private land, there is 10 miles of public access between the two reservoirs. Look to land brown, rainbow, some brook trout, cutthroats and fall-spawning Kokanee salmon.
Gunnison River: The Black Canyon of the Gunnison River in western Colorado is renowned for the brilliant combination of deep canyons and sheer cliffs, beautiful terrain and fishing opportunities unrivaled anywhere. The Gunnison River is subject to many restrictions, but there are 26 miles of the river that are managed as a Gold Medal tailwater fishery, which veteran anglers says is among the most productive in the state. The open portion is equally divided: thee lower 13 miles, known as the Gunnison Gorge, is the most popular and most fished as its access is relatively easy;p the upper 13 miles, within the rugged Black Canyon National Monument, are more difficult to reach, as it requires descending more than 2,000 feet down eroded drainage gullies to the river to reach the prize. Anglers report landing slab-sided rainbows and browns from 13 to 18 inches, with larger trout occasionally taken.
West Elk Wilderness: The West Elk Wilderness, in the Gunnison National Forest in west central Colorado is not far from the popular mountain town Crested Butte. With an area of 176,000 acres about 15 miles in diameter, and with elevations up to 13,000 feet, the area features a couple of lakes teeming with trout, including golden trout.
Weminuche Wilderness: The Weminuche Wilderness, in the Rio Grande and San Juan National Forests in southwestern Colorado near Durango, offers several streams, including the Los Pinos River and Vallecito Creek which drain into the Vallecito Reservoir, and featuring such action as brookies, rainbows and cutthroats. The western portion of the wilderness area include the Needle Mountains with many peaks over 14,000 feet, and spectacular vistas from every vantage point.
South Platte River: The South Platte River, about an hour south of the heart of Denver, flows through Cheesman Canyon and offers broad, stunning views of the Front Range of Colorado within striking distance of the state's major population centers. The area was once subject to a dam proposal which would have wiped out 21 miles of pristine Gold Medal fishing waterways, but opposition from a variety of wildlife and environmental interests were successful is scotching the plans. Today, anglers enjoy catching large rainbows and browns, with fly fishing one of the favored methods.
While Colorado is a special place for fly fishing the year around, the most experienced anglers agree: there's better time and place to get out the flies than Colorado in the fall. For all your Colorado fall fly fishing needs, call on Trout's Fly Fishing, the west's premier fly-shop and outfitter. We can be reached at (303) 733-1434. Or visit us on the web, at http://www.troutsflyfishing.com.