Best places to fly fish in Colorado
With high mountain ranges and long, majestic rivers, Colorado is a paradise for any fly fisher. There is an abundance of quality spots for fly fishing in this state, each located in incredibly scenic, beautiful regions that offer the tranquillity that we all seek while casting a fly. If you’re planning a fly fishing trip to Colorado, you may be overwhelmed by the sheer number of options on offer throughout the state. To make things easier, we’ve compiled a small list of some of the best places to experience fly fishing in Colorado. Don’t forget that you will need to obtain a Colorado fishing license before you head out.
The Arkansas is a long and powerful river, and great fishing can be found in many of its lengthy stretches. It can be difficult to know where you should fish the Arkansas, but generally the Upper Arkansas provides excellent, reliable fishing for most of the year. After the Arkansas drops 5000 feet in elevation through bouldered canyons and irrigated fields, it transects a high-desert environment at Bighorn Sheep Canyon. This part of the Arkansas has around 40 miles of public fishing access, and a healthy population of wild brown trout and introduced rainbows. Wading the Arkansas is one of the best ways to fish it, and also to be able to take in the beautiful scenery on offer in this region of Colorado. Float fishing is also an option for many stretches of the Arkansas.
Thought that Denver was just another city with stores, people, parking lots and restaurants? You’d be wrong. Just outside Denver, the north fork of the South Platte River has some spectacular fly fishing on offer, and it’s oh so easy to access. The north fork of the South Platte River around 50 miles from north-western Park County to several small mountain communities, where it merges with the south fork of the South Platte and forms an important water supply for Denver and the Eastern Plains. The best fly fishing on the North Fork is found just downstream of Roberts Tunnel region, where both rainbow and brown trout can be found in abundance, as well as some aggressive brook and cutthroat trout. Unfortunately, much of the access is through private property, so you will either need to make some friends, fast, or seek out the public access portions.
If your visit to Colorado is part of a family vacation, there is something for everybody to enjoy at Lake Meredith, located in south east Colorado. With water skiing, bird watching, hiking and jet skiing all on offer, you’ll have plenty of time to sneak off with the fly rod without your loved ones even noticing. Although it is a popular vacation spot, there are some quieter areas of Lake Meredith, and some good fishing to be had. There are some large browns and rainbows in the lake, though the condition of these fish does vary depending on the time of year. Primitive lakeside campsites mean that it couldn’t be any easier to hit the water at dawn, dusk, or anytime in between, and make Lake Meredith the perfect spot for introducing a youngster to the wonderful world of fly fishing.
In 1965, the Gunnison River in south western Colorado was dammed and Blue Mesa Reservoir was created. This is now Colorado’s largest body of water, and the perfect destination for any fly angler. 96 miles of shoreline make the reservoir perfect for wading, but it is also easy to launch a boat and explore the outer reaches that way. Hungry rainbows, brown and brook trout can all be found in this waterway, and will all put up a solid fight for you to have fun with. If you’re chasing the browns, your best bet is in a boat in the deeper water, whereas the rainbows and brook trout are more commonly found around the shore and in the streams that feed into the reservoir.
If you are looking for some good fly fishing guide outfits, there are a number to choose from. I usually recommend guides from the Blue Quill Angler or the Colorado Angler when chatting with friends. They are personable and always put people on the fish. If you have other guides that you would add to the list, connect with me on Facebook or Twitter and let me know your thoughts. I would be happy to recommend them if they are reputable and provide a good value for their service.