Every serious angler should experience fly fishing on the Yampa River, a prolific and diverse Colorado fly fishing destination. The Yampa River originates in the Flat Tops Wilderness where locals refer to the stream as “The Bear” river. In the Flat Tops, the Yampa is a classic head water stream supporting healthy populations of rainbow, brown, brook and cut throat trout. A light three weight fly rod and a box of buoyant dry flies is all that is needed to explore the beginnings of this wonderful stream. The Yampa then flows from the Flat Tops to Stagecoach Reservoir where the stream meanders through hay fields in a never ending series of deep ox bow bends where rainbows and browns grow to trophy sized proportions.
Below Stagecoach, the Yampa may be the finest tail water in Colorado. Fish populations are amazing and the average sized rainbow trout is between 14” and 20” as well as many larger fish. The fish feed predominately on a variety of small midges and mayflies and conventional tail water nymph fishing tactics. Sight fishing is the key to success, crowds can be dense on the Stagecoach Tail water but there are more than enough fish to go around.
This little stretch is reminiscent of fly fishing in Alaska with colorful and healthy rainbow trout and the occasional big brown trout. The trout in this tail water tend to feed more readily than other pressured tail waters in Colorado. The Yampa can be fished year round but the Colorado Division of Wildlife closes the road after the first of year, so the only access is by cross country skis, snowshoes or snowmobile. But the trek in to do some Yampa River fly fishing is most definitely worth it...nothing beats a sunny day in February when you have one of Colorado's most amazing fisheries all to yourself!
Due to “Catch and Release” practices, fly fishing through down town Steamboat can be amazing! Many of the largest fish of the year are caught by guides and outfitters on the town stretches of the Yampa. Great insect hatches can be seen throughout the summer months and during higher flows this stretch can make for some great float fishing. Be sure and do your homework before floating as many of the bridges and man-made rapids and white water parks can be extremely difficult and dangerous to navigate.
Below Steamboat the lower Yampa is a great fishery for trophy trout, northern pike and small mouth bass. Most of the river is private but there is some public access in the form of state wildlife areas and BLM land. Float fishing this river can be epic, just be sure to obey all Colorado float fishing regulations and make sure you are putting in and taking out on public land.