Here in Colorado we are lucky enough to have a ton of water to fish. However certain stretches of river are more crowded than others. Lots of anglers do not know the proper etiquette when they are out fishing. Personally, I have run into countless people fishing way to close to each other. We have plenty of water to fish so give people space. Check out the video below to get some more insight on proper river etiquette.
The small stretch of South Platte connecting Spinney and 11 Mile reservoirs can be the place where your dreams come true. Cutties and ‘bows push the tape measure to 25 inches and above during February through April. Brown trout weighing in at 8 pounds and above make the rounds on social media from September through November. The river has an abundance of scuds, midges, baetis, and caddis. The trout here are as big and strong as ox. Yes, this really is a dream of a stream.
But with all that said, each parking lot can look like a Costco on a Saturday morning. Friendliness and civility can be replaced by combat fishing. High-holing and low-holing your fellow angler can be more the norm rather than the exception. Yes, this really can be a nightmare of a stream.
There are those that love the Dream Stream and those that loathe it.
Regardless of your personal feelings on fishing the Dream Stream, the only thing that matters is that it’s fished in an ethical manner. Large cutthroat and rainbow trout from 11 Mile Reservoir move into the river for their annual spawning process anywhere from February through April. Brown trout from 11 Mile do the same during late September and lasting until early November.
As responsible anglers, we must respect the spawning process of our trout. This will ensure a naturally reproducing eco-system and help maintain the overall health of the river. To do so, we should follow these four simple rules during the spawning months:
- Never fish to trout on Redds
- Never fish to trout that are in pairs anywhere near a Redd
- Limit your wading across the river
- Stay away from the river at nighttime
A Redd is a clean patch of river bottom where the female trout lays her eggs to be fertilized by the male trout. Fishing to trout on or near them, especially if they’re paired up, should be avoided like the plague. Walking across a Redd will destroy the eggs on it so it’s something for us to avoid at all costs. And as much pressure as these trout get it’s a good thing to stay away from night time fishing as well. Avoiding nighttime fishing will help because if trout are over-pressured it will negatively affect their body’s spawning behavior so giving them that nighttime break.
Love it or leave it. Fish it or don’t. The only thing that matters during these spawning months is that we anglers fish the Dream Stream in an ethical manner.
The colors are starting to change and the air is cooling off. This means Fall is here and brown trout are starting to spawn. As anglers we all get temped to target big fish in shallow water but please resist the urge to target these fish. Here is little video from Redington explaining this topic.
The guys over at Colorado Trout Unlimited produced this great chart showing when is a good time to fish for trout and when its just too hot. We have been experiencing very warm temperatures across the state and we have been seeing scary warm water temps. Please buy a thermometer if you don’t already have one and measure the water temperatures throughout the day. A great alternative is to hike up to a high mountain lake or chase some warm water species. Give the trout a break!
Temperatures along Colorado’s Front Range are soaring well into the 90s and in some cases into triple digits. This is 100% having an affect on our trout population in our local streams and rivers, in particular the South Platte river.
A combination of very low water and hot outside temperatures has the water temperature of the Deckers and Cheesman Canyon stretches of the South Platte reaching 66 degrees Fahrenheit. That is right on the border of where we should not be fishing.
Warmer water contains less oxygen so trout are already stressed. When we hook them and put them through a good fight they have a much tougher recovery ahead of them because of the lack of oxygen in the water.
Please avoid fishing mid-day when the water is at its warmest. Rather, fish Deckers and Cheesman Canyon in the early mornings and late afternoons when the water is colder so we can have a healthy trout population when the flows come back up.
Whether you’re new to fly fishing or a seasoned veteran it’s important to know what a Redd is in the river. Redds serve an extremely useful purpose– they are spawning beds for trout. In otherwords, the hanky panky us humans get down on in the bedroom is the Redd that trout use for their reproduction. A Redd is a trout spawning bed in the river that is characterized by it’s clean, bright gravel that is typically in an oval shape. Often times a Redd can be seen easily in clean water because the color of it is going to be in stark contrast to it’s surrounding riverbed.
Simply put, the trout that are spawning over their Redds today are going to be the trout we see next year.
Trout that are paired up over a Redd, or trout that are 5-10 feet down river of the Redd should never be fished to because these are the trout that are actively spawning.
Fly fishing for trout during the spawning season (Rainbows and Cutthroat spawn during the Spring while Browns spawn during the Fall) can be incredibly productive but we must do it in an ethical manner. For the sake of the river and natural reproduction, please avoid fishing to trout on Redds and also be mindful of wading across the river during spawning season. Wading directly upriver of a Redd will throw a lot of sediment into the water and trout need the water to be crystal clean for the eggs to be fully fertilized. And walking over a Redd will, as you can imagine, cause a lot of damage.
If you see an angler fishing to trout over a Redd do not go up to them in anger in a confrontational manner. Chances are that the person simply does not know any better. Explain to them what a Redd is and how vital the spawning process is to the eco-system. Educating an angler goes a lot farther than yelling does.
You may or may not know this but the guides that bring you this fine fishing website also guide on private water at Lincoln Hills Fly Fishing Club. Lincoln Hills Fly Fishing Club has 5 miles of beautiful, pristine water on South Boulder Creek. It is also home to some of the state’s biggest trout!
We guide clients ranging from the solitaire angler there to catch a trophy trout of a lifetime, couples celebrating their anniversary, and large groups of 45 anglers and above. We have two clubhouses that sit right on the river, a wold-class chef that prepares an amazing lunch, and a seasoned Pro-Staff guide roster. All things combined make Lincoln Hills Fly Fishing Club a top destination for any angler.
We also have corporate rates for any group of 10 people and above. We are now taking bookings for the 2018 season and availability is currently open but it won’t last forever. Please feel free to reach out to to book a trip of a lifetime!
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Over the next couple of months we will be publishing a series of quick helpful tips to help you get the most out of your winter fly fishing experience. Please feel free to reply to any of these posts with your own advice and best practices. Stay warm and tight lines!
Trout do not feed as much in the cold winter months as they do in the dead of summer, and when they do feed, their takes can be extremely subtle. Trout’s metabolisms slow down which allows them to selectively feed on a passing meal rather than opportunistically munching down on everything flowing down river. In other words, trout do not feed as aggressively during the cold winter months as they will during the other seasons. Even to the most seasoned angler, a consequence of subtle feeding can end with a foul hook-up, otherwise known as accidentally snagging a trout. The subtler the feeding is the more difficult it is to read the take on the strike indicator.
Nobody wants a foul hook-up. Not only does it add extra stress to the fish, which is our primary concern, but it also gives you that wah-wah-wah feeling when you thought you hooked a 22 incher only to find out it’s a fouled 11 incher!
From time to time every one of us will foul hook a trout, but here are a couple of recommendations to cut down on the foul hook-ups.
- Sight fishing is an art all onto its own. This includes getting the right polarized shades, getting on the correct side of the river so the glare is at your back, and understanding fish habitat so you know where to look before you even wet your line. Once you have spotted your trout, you are looking for a white open mouth or a gradual side-to-side movement as your patterns go by. Either the open mouth or side-to-side movements are the trout feeding and that is when you set the hook. As you become more proficient in your sight fishing game you’ll realize how many fish you never detected from a strike indicator alone!
- Whether the water is too dirty or you’re on a freestone river that offers little visibility, sight fishing is not always an option. In this case, we suggest that you move your strike indicator closer to your patterns. The farther away your strike indicator is away from your flies the less sensitive it is. So, by lowering your indicator to 24-36 inches above your lead fly this will help you detect the ultra-sensitive takes which will in turn cut down on the foul hookups.
- Another great method for reading the subtlest of takes is to place a bright colored egg pattern (traditional yarn and trout beads both work) or brightly colored red worm pattern as your lead fly on your nymph rig. Both eggs and worm patterns work fantastic on any river in Colorado but it’s real intended use is that of an underwater strike indicator. We like to use an 8 mm chartreuse trout bead as our lead fly trailed by about 20 inches of tippet and then your two smaller, more natural patterns. The key is to focus on and track the egg pattern as it drifts down the river. As soon as the egg, or worm for that matter, pauses or twitches or does anything other than drift down stream we set the hook. So, in essence, it is treated exactly like a normal strike indicator. You will notice that that this method is exceptionally effective but it will also greatly reduce your foul hookups.
Winter Steelhead Season is in full swing and while it has been beautiful in Colorado I certainly miss visiting the Pacific Northwest this time of year. Scouring multiple rivers in hopes of finding a Wild Pacific Steelhead is not for the faint of heart. You have to be a hearty angler to pursue these magnificent fish and if you pay your dues, chances are you will be rewarded with a handful of chrome.
For those of you who are thinking about making a journey to Steelhead Country, be sure to bring the following items.
A Good Rain Jacket– This is a must. The chances of precipitation in the rain forest is about 100% and when it rains it rains hard. Have and outer shell that is waterproof and durable. This is not an area to skimp. It can be difficult to bite the bullet and purchase solid rain gear. It is expensive and if you live in Colorado you do not need it that often. But if you plan on angling for steelhead year after year, treat yourself to a good rain jacket.
Dry Bag – Key item for storing dry clothes, cameras, snacks and anything else that you want to keep dry. The backpack variety are a good choice. being able to strap a dry bag on your back allows you to trek along the river keeping your hands free. Simms and Patagonia both make excellent dry packs.
Base Layers – Puffy Pants, Fleece pants, Fleece jackets, Merino wool shirts and long underware ….bring it all. It gets chilly standing in the river especially when it is raining. Having multiple wicking base layers will help you stay warm in the coldest fishing conditions. Smartwool, ice breaker, hot chilis and a many other companies make great base layers. Find base layers that you like and bring several pairs. The merino wool is nice because you can wear it for a couple days with minimal odor.
Waders – Obviously this is a no brainer but it your waders leak consider buying a new pair or be sure to patch them very well. No matter how well you insulate under your waders getting wet is going to make you cold. Nothing is fun when you are cold so be sure to stay dry. Boot foot waders are also nice for cold weather wading conditions. The boot foot tends to not be as tight on your foot allowing you to wiggle your toes.
The warm weather has been a breath of fresh air for us here in Colorado. With temps in the mid 40s in the high country and highs near 70 in Denver, it certainly feels like Spring is starting a little early. A lot of our valley snow has melted and some rivers are turing slightly off color during the peak of the day. So what does this mean for our fishing? While it is nice to strip off the heavy layers and soak in the sun we have to take into consideration water temperature. Early Spring runoff cools the water down significantly and can slow fishing down. So do not be surprised if you find difficult fishing conditions during a bluebird Colorado Spring day. If you do find the fishing to be slow take a look at the water temp and insect activity. Adjusting fly size as wells the depth at which you are fishing can make a big difference. Trout tend to be less active in cooler water so putting your flies right on their nose can often be the only way to make them eat. We have notice that we are not seeing as many rising trout as we were a 3 weeks ago and midge hatches are far less consistent. Once our water temps stabilize this will change and fishing will get easy again. Until then take your time, find the right depth and you will find the fish.
Take a look at our previous midge post for excellent midge patterns to be presenting this time of year. We also had a viewer mention his favorite midge pattern that he doesn’t leave home without. The D- Midge. Best of luck on the water.