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Colorado Rocky Mountain High!!!

Joined:
2008/11/19 20:57
From Hagerstown, MD
Posts: 581
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I took my first trip west of the Mississippi River finally, and I went out to Buena Vista, Colorado. It was an very important trip for me because it was the first vacation that my family has taken together, since the loss of my sister in Afghanistan. Upon arriving in Colorado Springs, I was awstruck, as the Mountains that make up the continental divide rose up from the landscape. The drive to Buena Vista was nothing short of breathtaking, as we travelled past the Garden of the Gods and through Wilkerson Pass. We travelled for a short time along the South Platte, and my fly fishing itch was activated, as I witnessed the beautiful Platte snaking through the meadows.

Upon arriving at Buena Vista, I did not even get a chance to fully unpack before leaving to fish the Arkansas River, which ran a stones-throw away from the ranch that we stayed at. The Arkansas is a good sized freestone stream, which was just returning to normal levels after the spring run off. The caddis hatch was very impressive, and I was greeted the first evening, with opportunistic brown trout. I took several little guys and one about thirteen inches, which just fired me up more for day two.

On day two, I fished Hayden's Ranch, which is a stretch on the Arkansas that sits above two significant feeder streams. I chose this stretch because the flows were a managable 202 cfs, and the water looked very inviting. My eagerness caused me to arrive too early, and the fishing was slow for the first hour an a half. The caddis started in earnest at about 9am and the fish really turned on. It was easy to see that the wild browns were thankful that the runoff period was over, as they took the opportunity to smash any well presented caddis immitation. Most of them were small, around 8-10 inches with the occasional 14 incher thrown in. I did miss my opportunity with two rather large trout, one of which took my elk hair caddis and promptly returned to his undercut and broke me off in a tangle, and the other was only attached for a headshake or two, before throwing the fly back in my direction. Regardless, the naivity of these fish was refreshing and I was in heaven. Here are some pictures from Haydens and the Arkansas River, with another fishing trip to follow.

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Posted on: 2013/7/8 21:02


Re: Colorado Rocky Mountain High!!!

Joined:
2008/11/19 20:57
From Hagerstown, MD
Posts: 581
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On day three, I had pre-planned to do something really special. I booked a trip with Ark Angler's Fly Shop, to fish the high elevation lakes in the area for native Greenback Cutthroat. Despite her minimal fly fishing experience, I asked my sister to join me in the Mountains. I worked with my sister the previous evening to touch up her casting a bit, and I figured that she would do fine considering that she is a quick learner and she is good at just about everything that she does.

We were greeted in the morning by our guide, Stewart Andrews, a Colorado native himself and a wildlife artist like our own Dave Weaver. I knew that I had a winning combination. Truthfully, Mr. Andrews was a top notch guide, and his passion for the outdoors and the cutthroat trout that he enjoys catching himself was very appearant. He gave us a safety talk regarding the dangers of fishing at such high elevation (12,000 ft). And he ensured that we had enough supplies and snacks/water to sustain us through the hike in, and the day fishing. We traversed up the mountainside in his Subaru 4wd through what he called improved National Forestry Service Roads that turned into the unimproved National Forestry Service Roads, which just turned into plain boulders. We hiked about a mile, once the roads became too bad, and we were greated with a clear beautiful alpine lake. I will let the pictures do the talking, because my description would not do the trip justice. I will say the greatest moments of the trip, and of my fly fishing experience was my sister landing a 20 inch Cutthroat on only her third fly fishing trip, and her telling me that it was one of the greatest days of her life!!!!

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Posted on: 2013/7/8 21:24


Re: Colorado Rocky Mountain High!!!

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2009/5/29 6:40
From harlansburg
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great pics and a great trip!! looks like you hit everything just right! congrats on the fine fish. your pics are making me want to pack and leave tomorrow, I can't wait to get back out there, I LOVE the west!

Posted on: 2013/7/8 21:44


Re: Colorado Rocky Mountain High!!!

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2013/3/7 12:27
From Mechanicsburg PA
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LOVE CUTTS! betcha can't guess where my avatar was taken! Hit the Blue in Dillon for a strange shopping mall fly fishing fusion. Possible double digit bows on size 20 Mysis shrimp. A Blast! Beaver ponds on the North side of Pikes full of Brookies on every cast. Don't forget the Dream stream for a humbling experience and Elevenmile Canyon for great Baetis action in the Autumn. Would live there if I could afford it. Great photos above 12,000!

Posted on: 2013/7/8 21:51
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Re: Colorado Rocky Mountain High!!!

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2011/5/9 15:37
From Ohio
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Very nice write-up and awesome pics! Last July I made a trip out to Colorado(also my first time out west) and it was just amazing. Fell in love with the fishing and the scenery. I fished Boulder Creek, South Boulder, Clear Creek, the Big Thompson, and a few streams in RMNP. Great fishing for browns, bows, cutties, and even got a brookie. If I ever make it out there again the South Platte is on the list as well as some of those high mountain lakes. CO's a special place, can't wait to go back sometime. Glad you enjoyed your first time out there.

Posted on: 2013/7/8 22:06


Re: Colorado Rocky Mountain High!!!
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2006/9/9 17:32
From Gettysburg
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What a great thread - such big smiles!
Glad to hear you and your family had a great get together. A fly fisherman's first experience of the West is unforgettable. I was like a kid in Disney World when I first saw Colorado. It's just unforgettable.

Seeing this thread made my day Josh.

Posted on: 2013/7/8 22:22


Re: Colorado Rocky Mountain High!!!

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2010/2/15 19:09
From Ohio
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Quote:
A fly fisherman's first experience of the West is unforgettable. I was like a kid in Disney World when I first saw Colorado. It's just unforgettable.


I don't think it can be said any better than this.

I also have a special palce in my heart for CO, I had my first fly fishing experience on the Blue River in Breckenridge.

Looks like an awesome trip, thanks for sharing the pics. Congrats to your sister on catching one fine cutthroat!

Posted on: 2013/7/9 6:47


Re: Colorado Rocky Mountain High!!!

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2006/9/11 10:32
From Berks County
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Nice pictures. Good report. The west is great. I leave Saturday for Colorado. This will be my first trip to Colorado. I've been in other states out west, but not Colorado. First, I'm going to Rocky Mountain National Park for three days chasing Greenbacks. After that I'm off to the Green River in Utah for two days. After that I'm headed to Hot Sulphur Springs, CO to fish the Colorado River and Williams Fork for my final two days. I can't wait.

Did you check your gear or did you carry it on? I'm just curious if you did and how that went. Everyone says it should be fine for me to carry on my rods, reels, and flies, but it makes me nervous. I wouldn't know what to do if they didn't allow me to do that since my other stuff will already be checked and probably in the plane. I always checked my luggage before, but I want everything in my possession on the plane this time.

It doesn't look real smoky out there. I was concerned that I would be seeing some smoke with all the fires they have had.

Posted on: 2013/7/9 8:35


Re: Colorado Rocky Mountain High!!!

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2007/10/17 10:49
From florida
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Great stuff. Very nice fish and what scenery!! GG

Posted on: 2013/7/9 9:15
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Re: Colorado Rocky Mountain High!!!

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2012/9/4 20:16
From Lancaster
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Awesome post and what a great fishing experience! I have never been out west to fish but it has been on my mind ever since I started fly fishing. I too would love to target the Colorado area and definitely hit up a high mountain lake. Is now (summer) a good time to be fishing out west with the mountain run off like you mentioned? How were the water temps and flows?

Posted on: 2013/7/9 9:29
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Re: Colorado Rocky Mountain High!!!

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Quote:

ewall wrote:
Awesome post and what a great fishing experience! I have never been out west to fish but it has been on my mind ever since I started fly fishing. I too would love to target the Colorado area and definitely hit up a high mountain lake. Is now (summer) a good time to be fishing out west with the mountain run off like you mentioned? How were the water temps and flows?


The summer is a great time to go out west. There are some drawbacks during that time though. First of all the crowds during summer are terrible compared to other times of the year. The summer is also right in the middle of fire season. Fires are hard to predict, but a good snowpack will help. Runoff is usually done by the middle of July, but that varies from year to year. August is usually a safe bet to miss the runoff. I was in Montana two years ago during the week of July 4th. Runoff just peaked and the rivers were raging. The Gallatin River was at the highest it ever was while I was there. They had a great snowpack and the fishing was great all summer after runoff subsided, unfortunately after I left.

Posted on: 2013/7/9 10:00


Re: Colorado Rocky Mountain High!!!

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2007/5/21 14:23
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3wt7x, what a great report! The excitement of seeing the Rocky Mountain West for the first time really comes through.

ewall, having fly fished 7 of the western states, and having lived in Oregon for several years, my opinion is that mid-July through mid-September is prime time for fly fishing the west. Troy is right about run-off in early July. The fishing is usually great right after the rivers begin to clear from snowmelt, but that date is highly variable. It is generally earlier in the southern-most states like Colorado and New Mexico. In fact, this year the streams in Colorado were in great shape by the end of June despite a heavy snowpack. If I were planning a trip to Montana I would not schedule it prior to mid-July.

I wouldn't be concerned with the crowds in July and August. The flyfishers are there because the fishing is just incredible. The country is so big that I never have trouble finding a section or an entire stream to have by myself for the entire day. Even in popular spots the crowds there are nothing at all compared to those on Penns for the Green Drake or on the Breeches for the Whitefly.

Keep in mind the western states are all at least twice the size of PA, so pick a region of one state and just go for it!

Posted on: 2013/7/9 10:28


Re: Colorado Rocky Mountain High!!!

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2006/10/18 15:46
From Patterson twp, Pa (Beaver Falls)
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Great pics and write up! It's always better to see someone you taught catch a bigger fish... well at least the first few trips.

I was planning on heading to MT this year but plans changed. Looks like you had a blast and after a trip like that, usually the plans to do it again start up really soon.

That cut your sis caught is awesome! I'd do a repro of that down the road.

Posted on: 2013/7/9 10:53
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Re: Colorado Rocky Mountain High!!!

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2009/12/3 14:56
From Cato, NY
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Your pics are breathtaking. Thanks for sharing that great report.

Posted on: 2013/7/9 11:08


Re: Colorado Rocky Mountain High!!!

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Looks like a great trip. I'm sure you're anxious to get out West again. Thanks for sharing.

Posted on: 2013/7/9 11:31



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