Sure, we haven't seen the best water conditions this summer in Colorado. But, that doesn't mean there's not quality fishing to be had. In fact, the amount of fishable water far outweighs the number of untouchable waters (namely the Yampa, the Eagle below Wolcott, the Colorado from Two Bridges to Rifle, and the Roaring Fork from Carbondale to the confluence with the Colorado). Without further adieu, here are our Top 10 places to fish during this low water summer.
With the flows around 370 cfs, as of July 18th, the South Platte below Cheesman Reservoir has ample flow to keep water temperatures low throughout the day. Good water temps means good hatches and we're still seeing PMDs, Yellow Sallies, Tricos, and Caddis coming off and the fishing is as good as you would expect it with these healthy flows. With the higher flows, don't be shy and throw some leeches, buckskins, Pat's Rubberlegs, and worms for a good tug or two.
See Deckers - good flows, good water temps, good hatches...good fishing.
3. Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park has about 50 lakes and 150 miles of streams that hold trout. Just so happens that those lakes and streams are at elevation...which means colder, more hospitable temperatures for trout. The Summer is an amazing time to explore the high country. The cutthroat, brookies, and browns that live in RMNP need to eat as much as possible before the snow starts falling...which, if we're being honest, shouldn't be that far off. Mayflies, damselflies, midges, and terrestrials are on the menu all day long in the high country.
4. 11 Mile Canyon
While the Canyon is seeing very similar flows to Dream Stream, it's a canyon and won't see direct sunlight throughout the day. Therefore, it's seeing cooler water temperatures throughout the day. If you like fishing late summer dry flies like Tricos, 11 Mile is your place.
5. Blue River
Whether it's below Dillon Reservoir in Silverthorne or below Green Mountain Reservoir, the Blue River tailwaters will fish well through these dog days of summer. Don't be afraid to throw hopper-dropper rigs on both sections. We'll continue to see caddis, tricos, and terrestrials to be productive below Green Mountain Reservoir with healthy and elevated flows at 440 cfs. Through Silverthorne, worms, eggs, caddis, midges, mysis, and general attractors will catch fish consistently.
6. Williams Fork
If you can survive the mosquitoes, the Williams Fork is an amazing place to spend a summer day. It's terrestrial, caddis and trico season on this Colorado tributary. Plenty of eager, healthy trout live in the short two-mile tailwater section and a good day of fishing on the Fork in the summer can be one to remember. Definitely pick up a Bugstopper Hoody before you head to the river though.
7. The High Country - One of 11 National Forests
We're lucky to have access to 11 National Forests throughout this great state. Spend a little time on Google Maps, perusing through your Colorado Atlas, or read a couple chapters of the Fly Fisher's Guide to Colorado's Lost Lakes and Secret Places and then put a couple of miles between you and the roadside anglers. Chances are you'll find some eager high country trout looking to put on some weight in advance of that long, dark winter they're staring down.
8. Denver South Platte
While water temps are too high for trout fishing through the DSP, the carp fishing and bass fishing has been lights out. If you haven't chased carp on the fly, you're missing out. They're a challenge to fool, they pull line, and they are measured in pounds, not inches. Stop by the store for fly selection and presentation tips.
9. Warmwater Options in the Denver Metro
Like fishing in the high country, good fishing on warmwater ponds in and around the Denver metro are best found with Google Maps and a little bit of angling time on the water. There are some urban gems out there with all sorts of warmwater species living in them and they are worth the angling time you invest in them. With more parks than you can shake a stick at in the city, do some pre- and post-work reconnaissance and you'll be happy with the eventual payoffs.
10. Colorado, Arkansas, Roaring Fork, Dream Stream
Get on early, get off early. Just because we're seeing high water temps earlier on in the afternoon on these waters, doesn't mean that there isn't good fishing to be had. Getting on the water between the hours of 5 and 7 AM and getting off the water by 12 PM to 3 PM will give you a productive fishing window. The new guys Alex and Jack had some solid streamer fishing on the Roaring Fork this past weekend and recent guided trips on the lower Colorado have been super productive with Hopper-Dropper rigs with Chubbies and princes getting a lot of action.