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Fly Fishing in Denver: Exploring Local Waters

Discovering the Hidden Gems of Fly Fishing

Denver is often associated with its stunning mountainous landscapes and crystal clear rivers that are a haven for fly fishing enthusiasts. However, there is a lesser-known side to this bustling city that offers equally rewarding opportunities for anglers. With a bit of creativity and hard work, fly fishers can experience the beauty of the western United States without having to venture too far from their front door.

One of the best-kept secrets is the Denver South Platte River. While the famous “dream stream” may be a bit too far from the city, the Denver South Platte section offers a plethora of fish species, including trout, walleye, carp, bass, and catfish. With approximately 750 fish per mile, there is no shortage of action to be found. Although the waters may not be as pristine as those in the mountains, the abundance of food and fish make it a productive fishing destination.

For easy access along the Denver South Platte River, anglers can utilize the South Platte River Trail, which offers 26 miles of accessible water. Whether you prefer biking, walking, or even taking public transportation, you can explore this stretch of the river and discover prime fishing spots. Start your fishing adventure near Johnson Habitat Park and work your way up or down the river, depending on your preference.

Another nearby gem is Clear Creek, located just 30 minutes west of Denver in Golden. With an abundance of public access points in the canyon and around Golden, fly fishers have ample opportunities to catch rainbow trout, brook trout, and brown trout. Although the creek can become crowded during the spring due to snowmelt, productive fishing begins in May when the water levels subside. Throughout the summer, the fish eagerly take dries, providing an exciting experience for anglers.

To explore Clear Creek, head to the “Golden Mile” section, starting above the kayak course near the whitewater park and flowing to Vanover Park in downtown Golden. This stretch of water offers excellent wading opportunities, allowing you to easily navigate your way along the creek.

If you have the ability to travel a bit farther north of Denver, South Boulder Creek near Boulder is a unique fly fishing experience that is well worth the effort. As a tailwater flowing out of the Gross Reservoir, South Boulder Creek is home to brown trout, rainbow trout, cutthroat, and brook trout. The stream is characterized by large boulders and deep pools, providing an exciting challenge for anglers of all skill levels. Although the fish can be easily spooked, their size and the clear waters make South Boulder Creek a must-visit destination.

To maximize your time on South Boulder Creek, focus on the tailwater section. Accessing the creek is easy from the South Boulder Creek Kayak Run, where you can park your vehicle and make your way to the creek. Whether you prefer boulder hopping or fishing along the shore, be cautious of the deep pools and practice safe wet wading.

When it comes to selecting flies for the Denver area, patterns may vary depending on the specific waters. However, a few patterns have proven to be successful in these waters. Worm patterns, such as the Squirmy Worm, are a favorite among the fish in the area. Additionally, the Crystal Bugger and Parachute Adams in size 18 are highly effective for landing fish in the region. These patterns have consistently produced results for anglers and are worth adding to your fly box.

In terms of gear, simplicity is key when fly fishing in Denver. A standard 9-foot 5-weight rod with a moderate to fast action is suitable for throwing dry flies, high sticking nymphs, and stripping streamers. For carp fishing on the South Platte, a heavier rig, such as a 7 or 8-weight rod, is necessary due to the size and power of these fish. Equipping yourself with weight forward floating line and a variety of leaders and tippets, ranging from 3x to 5x, will cover most trout fishing scenarios.

Before heading out to fish in Denver, it is essential to consult the Colorado Parks & Wildlife fishing page for information on locations and fishing license requirements. Additionally, joining fly fishing clubs like the High Plains Fly Fishing Club and the Colorado Women Fly Fishers Club can provide valuable resources and opportunities to connect with fellow anglers.

When it comes to fly fishing guides and fly shops in Denver, Trouts Fly Fishing and Ascent Fly Fishing come highly recommended. These establishments offer guided trips, gear, and a wealth of information to ensure a successful and enjoyable fishing experience.

Fly fishing in Denver offers a unique opportunity for anglers to explore the lesser-known waters of the city. While many flock to the mountains, there is an abundance of fish waiting to be caught close to home. By venturing into the Denver South Platte River, Clear Creek, and South Boulder Creek, anglers can experience the thrill of landing impressive fish while enjoying the beauty of the western United States. So, grab your gear and start exploring these hidden gems of fly fishing in Denver!

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