The High Country Angler is Colorado Trout Unlimited’s official magazine! This is a digital publication done every season for our members. It’s free to read, just follow the link below.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has issued voluntary fishing closures across Colorado. This is in response to the low flows and high temperatures many of our rivers have been experiencing. When stressful conditions like these are present, trout are more likely to not survive after catch-and-release, even if done properly.
If you have not yet seen the warnings about fishing when the water temperatures are above 65 degrees, check out our Trout Thermometer to know when it's time to give the fish a break.
CPW will not legally enforce the voluntary closures, but simply ask anglers to plan on going earlier in the day or try other locations.
Voluntary Closures after 12pm
- Tomichi Creek at the Tomichi Creek State Wildlife Area and on the Animas River from 12pm -7pm
- Rio Grande River after 12pm
- Read more about some of the voluntary closures from Grand Junction's Daily Sentinel.
Voluntary Closures Between 2 p.m. and Midnight
The north fork of White River at the National Forest boundary, through the main stem of the river to the County Road 5 bridge, downstream of the Rio Blanco Lake State Wildlife Area
The south fork of the White River from the National Forest boundary thorough the main stem of the river to the County Road 5 bridge, downstream of the Rio Blanco Lake State Wildlife Area
Colorado River from the confluence with the Fraser River near Windy ap Reservoir downstream to its confluence with the
Full-time Voluntary Closures
Closures NO LONGER in Effect
- A mandatory fishing closure in place at the tailwater of the Yampa River has been rescinded (see 7/19/18 news release).
CPW regularly updates their fishing conditions online here. So be sure to check before you head out on your fishing excursion.
Still need more information? Contact your local CPW office.
I finally did it. I caught my first fish (actually 3 in total) on a fly rod. That's right! I officially made my right of passage into the Trout Unlimited family. I think my dad is regretting showing my sister and I how to fly fish - seeing as how we end up being the only ones catching anything. Sorry dad!
Flashback to that weekend
I was trying to keep my expectations low as it had only been my second time actually going fly fishing. I think it helped that we went to a stocked mountain lake where I could wade in about waist deep. The first one I caught was a tiny rainbow trout that barely fit in my hands. The next two were also rainbows but much larger (9-10 inches) with much more fight. Let's just say they both flopped up and then immediately unhooked themselves to quickly swim away. Of course, the only one we could snap a picture of was the first one. I guess that's just how fishing works - no one will believe that I caught anything larger unless I have a picture to prove it.
I have to say that I never thought I would enjoy it so much until I felt the tug on the end of my line and then immediately lifting straight up to see the wicked bend of the rod. I now get it. I got it so much that after we came back to my parent's that afternoon, I was all set to go back out again that evening.
After proving that I could actually catch something on a fly rod, let's just say my dad saw it fitting to purchase me some more gear to get me better prepared. It's not the most expensive, but for a beginner, it gets the job done. Now that I have the flyfishing bug - where should I go next?
Andrea (Annie) Smith is CTU's Communications and Membership Coordinator.
It's hot outside, even up in the mountains. The last thing you want to do is layer up in more clothes. If you're willing to brave the initial shock of cold water, then wet wading can be a great way to experience fly fishing on a whole new level. If you are prone to "cold legs" then please feel free to gear up. But if you are feeling the heat, here are some tips for going wader-less this summer.
WHAT TO WEAR?
Depending on how comfortable you are, there are lots of options to choose from. As a woman, I prefer running shorts (quick dry) or Capri yoga pants. I suggest picking your pant length based on the area you will be going and how much exposure you're okay with. For example, if you know you will be hiking through brush, trees, and rocks, longer pants would be the way to go.
A good rule of thumb is to avoid jeans when wading. Seriously, the joke that you can tell who is a Colorado tourist because they wear jeans in the snow also applies to the water as well. Natural fiber (cotton, wool, etc.) will weigh you down when wet as well as take forever to dry. You might as well go in your underwear at that point. Shorts work great (unless you burn quickly) and usually any kind of activewear that says "quick dry" or "water wicking" is your best bet. Most outdoor stores sell this type of gear and right now I bet those end of summer sales can get you a great steal. Basically, the purpose of wet wading is to get wet, which may include the clothes you're wearing.
This is the most important item you need to be safe out there. Rocks are slippery, currents can be fast, and waterlogged shoes suck. There are so many options for this as you can wear your wading boots, sandals, closed-toe sandals, water shoes, or quick dry sneakers. Below is a list of options that you can opt for. Keep in mind, the most important part is the sole and if it can grip the slippery rocks/surface below, besides that, it's up to you! You can always add on on some grips later on such as spikes. There is some information about certain types of wading shoes transferring invasive species through your soles, laces, or other gear. Your best bet is to always wash your gear off before heading into a new watershed. If you really want to guarantee you're not moving the invasives, you can put your shoes in the freezer overnight. This is a common practice for all those who wade in multiple locations. You can read more about it in the link below.
Some ideas for wet wading footwear:
- Wading Boots & Neoprene socks
- Well-fitting strap sandals with a good rubber sole (i.e. Chacos, Teva's)
- Closed toe water shoes - cross between boot and sandal - great to protect against stubbing toes
- Quick Dry Sneakers - these usually have a foam, lightweight sole, so not the best of preventing rock slippage
- Barefoot - recommended only for sandy stretches only, not fun in rocky areas
If you are planning on wading in past your hips, the same thing applies to your top as it does to the bottoms. Cotton is not the way to go. Choose active/outdoor wear that will dry quickly and allow you to move freely.
Tips & Safety
Just because you do not have waders on, doesn't mean that wading safety does not apply.
Check out Trouts 7 Safety tips for Wading
Some notable things to consider for wet wading:
- Use a wading staff/stick to help with high flows, strong currents, and slippery surfaces
- Keep your stance sideways and avoid facing up or downriver
- When crossing across a river, consider going at an angle - it's easier and safer
- Lead with your downriver foot to keep yourself upright
Keep in mind that warmer weather also means warmer water! If it feels unseasonably warm and you are seeing the water temperatures are reaching above 65 degrees Fahrenheit, then it's time to give the fish a break or plan on getting out there earlier and leaving before the afternoon. Check out our handy water thermometer here to see when it's time to give fish a break.
Interested in learning more about wading tips and tricks? Check out these great resources below:
REPOST from The Dirtbag Diaries Podcast:
"There are a lot of serious problems in this world, but the solutions don’t always have to be serious. Fly-fisherman and trail-runner Andrew Todd channeled his concern for Colorado’s native trout and the watersheds that support them into the creation of a joyful, irreverent, event: The Flyathlon.
- Run 10-miles
- Catch a fish
- Don’t be a jack-donkey
- No fish in your Camelbak that you brought from somewhere else.
Cordelia Zars–and a group of Flyathletes–on Gunnison, Colorado’s Lake Fork River joined Dirtbag Diaries for an interview, listen below.
Learning a new activity when you are younger can go two ways: amazing or not so great. That probably is still true as an adult, but when taking a child fishing, having a great time or not can make all the difference. Obviously, every child is different, but if there was one thing to keep in mind? Stay excited and someone HAS to catch a fish.
1. Patience and Understanding
It goes without saying that most people respond well to learning a new skill if the teacher is patient in the process and understands that mistakes will happen. Having a chill attitude and rolling with the punches will ensure that everyone will have a good time! You might not get to fish much, but there will always be a chance to go out yourself another time. This outing is about the child.
2. Excitement is Contagious
We feed off of each other's excitement, and kids do the same! If you are excited for them to catch a fish or learn how to cast, then that energy can help keep them going even when the struggles of fishing are real! It's easy to become disappointed when someone isn't as receptive to one of your favorite pastimes. When all else fails, snacks help!
3. Perfection is not the goal
We are not perfect, so there is no reason to expect that of a kid. We all mess up. Someone might get hooked (barbless hooks help with this), the line will get tangled, the knots will not hold, snags will happen, and fish might never bite. Sometimes the best thing about fishing is sharing the stories of never catching a fish, and the funny things that happened along the way. Laughing or shrugging off the mishaps makes coming back, much more likely.
4. Increase Your Chances for Success
One of the best ways to make the experience a great one is to use kid-friendly equipment. A full setup on the fly rod might be too much at once for beginners, so using a closed spin cast rod or simpler setups (possibly Tenkara) which are much less intimidating. Yes, this might also include using scented bait or fishing in well-stocked ponds, but fishing with kids is about getting them excited and hopefully want to learn the more advanced stuff later on. Also, if you're right there next to them and you just happen to hook a fish, it's a great opportunity to pass off the rod for them to reel it in.
With kids, the simpler the better. Check out this great write up about teaching kids how to fly fish with kid-friendly Tenkara setups. Who knows, you might even end up liking it too!
5. Take a Break
If there is one thing that anglers and fly fishers are, that is persistent. "One more cast, one more fly combo, one more location" is the drive for many to keep going till the sun goes down. Kids might not share that same enthusiasm from the get go and even though we would all like to at least catch a fish, it's easier to leave before the frustration sets in. There’s always next time!
There are so many great resources out there with ideas and tips on getting young ones outside and on the water. We've listed a few below. Feel free to leave a comment on your best tips and tricks to keep beginners coming back for more!
Other great reads
This winter was certainly a tough one for Colorado. Whether you fish small creeks in the high country, irrigate your crops on the Western Slope, or water your lawn in central Denver, we will all be feeling the impacts of the low-water year. According to the latest SNOWTEL analysis offered by the NRCS National Water and Climate Center the percentage of snow-water equivalent (SWE) in Colorado currently ranges from 5% to 44% of normal. While it is true that hydrologic conditions can differ from drainage to drainage – with some areas seeing minimal impact from the low snow totals – overall,
Colorado will see less water in the creeks and rivers this year. Anglers, irrigators, ranchers, municipalities, and recreationalists will all feel the pain this summer, but we are not the only ones. Low flows and hotter days can have serious impacts on fish. With less water and warmer temperatures, the dissolved oxygen content within a stream reach can fluctuate significantly – meaning less holding capacity for fish and bugs. These tough conditions can also affect spawning, migration, and recovery (for example, after being released off the hook).
As anglers, we wait all winter to chase trout during the warmer seasons, but how can we pursue that goal and not over-stress our fisheries? We reached out to our fly shop partners around Colorado and posed that very question:
The fish and wildlife will continue to adapt to these changing conditions, but we can certainly do our part to help them adjust. Take this year as an opportunity to explore new watersheds, improve your handling practices, and better understand your local streams. If you have questions about when and where to fish, you can always ask your local fly shop.
CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION
- Trout Tips: Fly Fishing Lakes and Deeper Water
- CPW offers fishing in reservoirs to avoid the warming streams
- Picking the right time to fish in Durango, CO
- San Luis Valley Chapter asks for voluntary fishing restrictions
About the Author
Dan Omasta is the Grassroots Coordinator for Colorado Trout Unlimited, overseeing 24 chapters across the state.
It is said that the Western Green Drake (Drunella grandis) hatch in Colorado can provide some world class angling. It just so happens that Colorado's Roaring Fork and Frying Pan are where you can experience some of the longest periods for the hatch in the country. Fish of all sizes move out from the deeper water to rise up and snag this large mayfly. But what makes this hatch so sought after by flyfishers? It's all about the insect. Trout seem to be drawn to it, no matter what the stage: nymph, emerger, dun, or spinner. The most common stages to catch a higher number of fish occurs in either the emergence stage, the spinner stage, or fishing crippled dun patterns. Some say that the most exciting part about the drake hatch is how fast and explosive it is, as most flyfishers tap out too early.
QUICK FACTS ON THE HATCH
- Insects: Western Green Drake
- Color: Dark Olive
- Dates: Jun 1 – Aug 1
- Emergence: Cloudy, 1-4 pm
- Size: 8-12
- Spinner Fall: Evening
"[The hatch] process usually takes about a day, beginning in the late morning or early afternoon and ending throughout the evening and early the next morning. In order to be fully prepared for the green drake hatch, anglers should have an arsenal of patterns that covers the entire hatch process and includes green drake nymphs, emergers, cripples, duns, and spinners. " Read More on Vail Valley Anglers blog.
UPDATE FROM FLYFISHEROUTFITTERS.NET
7/1/2018– Spring on the pan can create some great memories. excellent conditions right now. Look for some good dry fly action on the lower river in the afternoons. The Green Drakes and PMD’s are hatching!
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is dedicating the first weekend of June as free fishing days for everyone. Anyone can fish for free, regardless if they have a fishing license or not. This is a great opportunity to head outside for some fun on our rivers, lakes, or streams across Colorado. If you're a seasoned angler - this would also be a great opportunity to take out a beginner and hopefully get them "hooked". CPW wants all to enjoy getting outside with friends and family this weekend.
All across Colorado's public lands, anyone can drop a line in from June 2-3, 2018. You can read more about the event and access some free resources such as fishing reports or places to take kids fishing here. See if your local state parks have their own events happening near you!
Fishing/River events this weekend (June 2 - June 3):
Join the Rocky Mountain Flycasters Chapter of Trout Unlimited for ongoing demos of how to fly cast. A little rusty? The gang at TU can help you tune up your casting skills so come by their booth for on demand demos during the Poudre River Fest.
Poudre RiverFest is a free, family-friendly festival that restores, celebrates and educates people about the Cache la Poudre River. Learn about conserving the Poudre River and its resources through kids’ activities. Connect with local groups that work to improve and maintain the health of the river. Volunteer to help with river cleanup and restoration projects in the coming year. Dance to live music. Enjoy beer from New Belgium Brewing Co. and food from local eateries.
Free Get Outdoors Day Colorado Springs - Prospect Lake
Prospect Lake will be lined with families fishing using free poles from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The water will be filled with rafts, canoes and paddleboards. Kids can shoot air rifles and .22s, throw hatchets, learn archery, try the climbing walls, crawl all over our "Touch a Truck" display and much more. Check it out here!
The U.S. Forest Service, Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, Canyon Lakes Ranger District along with our partners; is hosting a fun, FREE, family, day of fishing at West Lake Day-Use Area. The whole family is invited, but it's geared specifically for kids (15 and under) to learn about the basics of fishing, aquatic and terrestrial biology, and outdoor ethics on the National Forests and other public lands. Our mission that day is to get kids and familys' excited about fishing, the outdoors, recreation, and their public lands #itsallyours. Red Feather Lakes, CO
Sign up the whole family for the Evergreen Outdoor Skills Day and enjoy time outdoors in beautiful Evergreen. Youth are encouraged to participate in fishing, tying flies, shooting sports, learning about hunter education, macro-invertebrates, Colorado wildlife, and much more.
Prize drawings, free fishing poles, and a free grilled lunch while food and supplies last.
Please register for the whole family, youth and adults. Youth must be accompanied by adults. This is a free event that falls on Free Fishing Weekend. Participants do not need a fishing license to participate. Register here.
This free clinic fishing clinic, sponsored and run by Volunteers from Bennett Fish and Tackle, begins at 9:00 am at Mead Ponds. 8:00-9:00 am FREE clinic 9:00-11:00 am Fishing Derby 11:00-11:30 am Lunch & Prizes It's free and fun for the whole family! Kids will receive a free fishing pole and anyone over the age of 16 must have a valid Colorado fishing license. Email Janet Torres (email@example.com) with any questions.
Where: CR 37 Jefferson, CO 80456
We will meet at the parking lot at the end of the road. Class will start promptly at 9:00 am, please be respectful of others and arrive on time. All Participants 16 years old and older have to have a valid fishing license. Licenses are not available at the lake. You can buy them on-line or any place that sells fishing equipment. All equipment will be provided or bring your own and we will help you set it up. Please bring plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen and a lunch. The Forest Service also has a $10 per vehicle fee to access Jefferson Lake. Please register for this event here.
9 a.m. to 7 p.m. | Charlie's Hole near the Bud Werner Memorial Library, 1289 Lincoln Ave. Steamboat Springs Boaters and anglers descend on the Yampa River each spring to achieve greatness in their respective sports. Whether you kayak, raft, tube, canoe, SUP, packraft or float another craft, the Yampa River Festival has something for everyone. Jumping into the water not your thing? There are plenty of opportunities to spectate and support the Yampa River. The festival also features vendors and a beer garden.
June 2, 2018 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. | Dry Creek Park, 513 S. Poplar St. Hayden, CO Go back to those childhood memories of reading about Huck Finn's adventures or introduce the stories to your kids by attending the Hayden Huck Finn Day, which includes a Fishing Derby starting at 9:30 a.m. at the Dry Creek Pond. You can fish with your own gear or use gear provided by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. A cornhole tournament will start at 1 p.m. There will be educational stations, awards presented in a Huck Finn and Becky Thatcher look-a-like contest and Learn something new at one of the educational stations and a free hotdog lunch provided by Hayden Parks and Recreation. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
June 3rd, 2018 9 to 10 a.m. | Stagecoach State Park, 2550 Routt County Road 14 Oak Creek, COThis one is for the kiddos. Not only is the clinic free, but on June 2 and June 3, no fishing permits are required due to Colorado's free fishing weekend. Join park rangers at Keystone Cove to learn the basics of knot tying, casting and safe fish handling. Fishing equipment is provided. Valid park entry permit is required on all vehicles.
Comment below if we missed one! Have a great weekend everyone and tight lines!
Do you have your weekend plans figured out? If not, there are lots of great events coming up that you definitely do not want to miss! Below is a quick digest of all the fun things happening along the Front Range of Colorado: Check out the full list of upcoming events here.
Thursday, April 26
Colorado Trout Unlimited's Conservation Film Fest doors at 6:30 pm, films at 7:00 pm
Friday, April 27
TU & CTU Western Regional Rendezvous
7:30 am - 6:00pm | Keystone Lodge, CO
Join TU volunteer leaders from across the West on April 27-28, 2018 in Keystone, Colorado for enlightening presentations, inspiring dialogue and engaging camaraderie with those who share your dedication to TU and our mission. The TU Western Rendezvous is an occasion to be inspired – by lessons from volunteer leaders, the work of TU staff, and conversations with newfound friends. The event will also be an excellent opportunity to discuss the unique issues facing the region as well as a chance to network and build relationships with fellow TU volunteer leaders.
If you are interested in attending any of the meetings, please register here.
Colorado Iron Fly - brought to you by Pig Farm Ink and Rep Your Water
starting at 7:00 pm | Dos Locos 22869 U.S. 6, Keystone, CO, United States
Pig Farm Ink, Costa, Simms, Postfly, and Rep Your Water present Iron Fly: TU & CTU
Western Regional, in Keystone, CO
Join us for an evening of hoots and hollers as EVERYONE is welcome to participate in
the IRON FLY. What is the IRON FLY? Well, it's fly tying meets Iron Chef as tiers compete in a battle of partying skills and bobbin prowess to make the ultimate fish snack from the same set of mystery ingredients. Race against your liver and your competitors to show the panel of judges that your vice has the spice...
Saturday, April 28
Trout Unlimited & Colorado Trout Unlimited Western Regional Rendezvous
7:30 am - 8:30 pm | Keystone Lodge, CO
2018 Spring Fly Fishing Rendezvous
8:30 am - 5:00pm | Jefferson County Fairgrounds Golden, CO 15200 W 6th Ave, Golden, CO 80401-5018
This two-day event happening 4/28 - 4/29 highlights the best of the Rocky Mountain’s emerging fly brands while also giving anglers access to some of the most trusted names in the industry. Our shared passion is to make the sport of fly fishing accessible to all.
Check out the full vendor and speaker line up at www.flyfishingrendezvous.com.
Tickets are $8 in advance/$10 cash at the door. Scouts in uniform and kids under 12 years old get in free.
GET $1 off your advance online ticket price by using "CTU" coupon code upon checkout.
Sunday, April 29
2018 Spring Fly Fishing Rendezvous
8:30 am - 5:00 pm | Jefferson County Fairgrounds Golden, CO 15200 W 6th Ave, Golden, CO 80401-5018
Trout Unlimited & Colorado Trout Unlimited Western Regional Rendezvous
7:00 am - 12:00 pm | Keystone Lodge, CO
Fishing Sunday after the Western Regional Rendezvous
12:00 pm - whenever the fishing slows down
Local rivers within a two- three hour drive:
Colorado River (Pumphouse) – 1 hour travel – wade or float
Colorado River (State Bridge) 1.25 hours travel time – wade or float
Colorado River (Parshall) 45 minutes travel time – wade
Eagle River (Gypsum) 1 hour travel time – wade
South Platte (Deckers) 2hours and 30 minutes – wade
Dream Stream 1 hour 45 minutes – wade
Frying Pan (Ruedi Dam) 2 hours and 30 minutes – wade
Roaring Fork (Carbondale) 2 hours and 30 minutes – float
Blue River (near Breckenridge, below Dillon Reservoir, north of Silverthorne)
Arkansas River (near Leadville)