Fly fishing the Colorado River is like taking a trip through geological history. The Colorado is the principal river of the south west United States and begins its journey at La Poudre Pass east of the Never Summer Mountains in the Colorado Rockies. The river runs south before turning west below Grand Lake, the largest natural lake in the state. After passing Kremmling, it cuts a series of narrow canyons, including Gore, Glenwood, and De Beque. The Colorado emerges from the mountains at the Grand Valley, where it is joined by the Gunnison River before arcing northwest into desert Utah.
The mighty Colorado River begins it’s journey in the heart of Colorado. The Colorado River is born in the high peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park and gradually grows in size as it flows through the Colorado River Valley. Most fly fishers split the Colorado River is split up in into two main sections, the upper and lower river. The upper river is known as “Middle Park” and encompasses the Frasier Valley, Kremmling Valley and Vail Valley. The Lower Colorado River consists of the water in and below the Glenwood Springs area.
Many fly fisherman feel the Colorado River fishes best when fall arrives. My experience as a guide on the river since the mid- eighties is that the Colorado River conditions are the most consistent during the fall season, namely late September, October and early November. A side benefit to the fly fishing near Vail on the Colorado during autumn is the river is never crowded and on some days you may not see another boat or angler.'
Several factors contribute to the consistently good we traditionally find on the Colorado River stretching for sixty miles between Kremmling and Rifle, Colorado during the late season.
Water temperatures between 46 to 54 degrees Fahrenheit provide everyday Baetis Mayfly (BWO sizes 18 to 20) action from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. Dry fly and emerger action can be extremely visual, as you float from one large fish pod to the next.
Water clarity is the best it will be all year, with several feet of visibility typical well beyond Glenwood Springs. The surrounding topography can put a good bit of sediment into the river after heavy rains, putting down bug hatches and making it hard to identify trout habitat but the river usually clears within 24 hours. Fall is when we have the least chance of big rains and ambient day temperatures usually hover between 45 and 60 degrees.
Water flow measured in cubic feet per second is usually between 600 and 1000 cfs below Kremmling and twice that below Glenwood. This flow rate offers float fisherman a perfect level to access one of Colorado’s finest trout streams. Access current stream flows .
The majority of the trout found in the river are wild Brown Trout. It is no secret that Brown Trout are very aggressive pre and post spawn and that most of them will spawn between October first and November 15th. Fishing from a boat during this time and fly casting large brightly colored streamer patterns to the banks can be deadly.
The 2013 autumn season fly fishing outlook is looking extremely good on the Colorado River this year. We have had a lot of rain recently but no significant flooding anywhere in the Colorado River drainage. Let’s not forget that besides offering the year’s best float fishing opportunities, fall is also the best time of the year to view Central Colorado’s vivid fall foliage. So, give the guys at Vail Valley Anglers a call to book your on the Colorado River. Right now we are running our FreaknFish fall special for guided floats.
Fly Fishing Guide, Colorado Master Angler, Member and
Spring time fly fishing on the Lower Colorado River has been excellent and will continue this way until the high water comes. Heck who wouldn’t find the fishing less challenging during the spring in a river about to go from a flow of 2000 cfs to a flow of 20,000 cfs. Water temperatures are inching up daily (43 to 46) causing more bugs to hatch every day. Spring time has Glenwood Springs turning green already, at an elevation near 5,000 feet above sea level, spring arrives in April most years.