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The Best Public Places to Fly Fish in Colorado

Exploring the Beauty of Colorado’s Rivers and Lakes

Colorado offers some of the best fly fishing opportunities in the country, with over 200 rivers and countless lakes teeming with fish. As an avid fly fisherman with 15 years of experience, I have had the pleasure of exploring numerous fishing spots in Colorado. In this article, I will outline three of my favorite public places to fly fish in the state, and provide some great advice for a successful fishing trip.

The South Platte River: A Paradise for Anglers

The South Platte River is a true gem for fly fishing enthusiasts. With its numerous sections of pristine fishing water, it is hard to choose a specific stretch of river as a favorite. The South Platte River boasts over 15 public access points and is home to a variety of fish species including rainbows, brown trout, cutthroats, cutbows, suckers, carp, bass, and kokanee salmon.

What sets the South Platte River apart is the incredible variety of water it offers. Whether you prefer fishing the technical water of Cheeseman Canyon with its pocket water behind massive boulders or casting your line at Dream Stream, where the river meanders between two reservoirs, you have the opportunity to catch some of the largest trout in the state.

When fishing the South Platte River, keep in mind a few key pieces of advice. Firstly, for tailwater sections, opt for smaller flies such as size #22 or #24 midges and baetis patterns. It may be outside your comfort zone, but you’ll be surprised by the number of fish you can catch using these smaller flies. Secondly, be patient. The South Platte River is home to up to 3,000 fish per mile in certain stretches, so take your time to explore and find the perfect fishing hole.

Indian Peaks Wilderness: Pristine Wilderness and Abundant Fish

For those seeking a true wilderness fishing experience, Indian Peaks Wilderness is a must-visit destination. This area boasts an array of lakes, inter-connected streams, and untouched landscapes. It is renowned for hosting one of the largest concentrations of greenback cutthroat trout in the state, along with other species such as cutthroat, brown trout, rainbow trout, grayling, lake trout, and even the rare albino trout.

The golden rule of Indian Peaks is simple: the further you hike, the bigger the fish. With so many lakes and streams to choose from, you can spend years exploring and catching fish in this picturesque wilderness. Crystal clear waters make for challenging presentations, but the reward of landing a beautiful greenback cutthroat or rainbow trout is well worth the effort.

To make the most of your Indian Peaks fishing adventure, remember timing is everything. Many lakes in this area are above 9,000 feet, so plan your visit between June and October for the best weather conditions. Dry fly fishing is highly recommended, as there is something special about catching a native greenback cutthroat on a dry fly you tied yourself. Lastly, be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions by dressing in layers and bringing appropriate gear.

The Upper Colorado River: A Hidden Gem

The Upper Colorado River often goes unnoticed by anglers, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. This section of the Colorado River, stretching from Granby to the Pumphouse near Avon, is dominated by brown and rainbow trout. The water quality here is exceptional, making it ideal for throwing a fly and expecting a fish to bite.

When fishing the Upper Colorado River, stoneflies are your go-to flies. These insects form a major part of the trout’s diet, and using stonefly nymphs or dries can lead to excellent fishing opportunities. Additionally, fishing early in the morning or late in the evening tends to yield the best results. Spring and fall are also great seasons to fish this area, as the fish are more active during these times.

Explore Colorado’s Rivers and Lakes

If you’re eager to discover even more fishing spots in Colorado, you’re in luck. There are 125 river guides available that provide detailed information, including hatch charts, recommended flies, tips on fishing techniques, and weather reports. By utilizing these guides, you can enhance your chances of success and make the most of your fishing adventures in Colorado.

In conclusion, Colorado offers an abundance of incredible fishing opportunities. Whether you choose to explore the South Platte River, Indian Peaks Wilderness, or the Upper Colorado River, you are bound to have an unforgettable fly fishing experience. So grab your gear, hit the water, and immerse yourself in the beauty of Colorado’s rivers and lakes.

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