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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Arkansas River

It's been awhile since I've done any posts regarding fishing trips. With the exception of the alpine lakes I fished this summer in Rocky Mountain National Park I had not fished any new waters until this past weekend. I was in Salida for TU meeting on Saturday, so I took the opportunity to fish some waters new to me.

Moving here from the east coast, it is hard to grasp just how big Colorado is. On a trip my wife and I took two weeks ago visiting National Parks in southwest CO and Southern Utah, it was about 450 (road) miles from Fort Collins to Mesa Verde NP! That is the distance from D. C. to Boston. Needless to say in a state so large there is more trout fishing opportunities than I will likely ever get to.

Salida is on the Arkansas River about 200 miles from Ft. Collins. Given how much trout water there is within just 75 miles of Ft. Collins I've yet to explore, I have not made much effort to go very far afield. So the TU meeting was an opportunity to fish the Arkansas and on the way home fish some of the upper parts of the South Platte River system.

I don't know the exact figure, but I'm guessing that from Leadville down river to below Canon City there is well over 100 miles of trout water on the Arkansas River of which there is public access to about 40% of the total. On the Friday drive to Salida, I fished one short public stretch above Buena Vista in the morning and the lower end of the Browns Canyon stretch, 22 miles further down river, in the afternoon. These were two very different types of water as you can tell by the pictures.





There was no insect activity to speak of; so mostly I used nymphs and wooly buggers. I did about the same in regards to numbers of fish in each section, with about a dozen in each. But the fish I landed in the Canyon seemed to run a bit bigger on average; 13"to 14" vs. 11" to 12" at my first stop. The canyon water is much wider and deeper; which probably contributes to the larger average size. I am sure there are some huge trout in the deep waters of the canyon, but I could not even get close to the bottom of most of the canyon pools I tried. My best fish of the day came from the canyon - a 15 ½" brown that took a wooly bugger.



On the drive home Sunday I wanted to explore some of the upper South Platte watershed in the South Park area. My first stop was the Middle Fork of the South Platte. The stream averages about 15' wide. Pulling into the parking area it was apparent that the all day rain of Saturday had put some "color" to the water. Instead of the crystal clear waters I usually find, water clarity was only a few inches. I was practically going to have to hit any trout on the nose with my flies. On the other hand I would be able to get closer than I ordinarily would. Here's a shot of the Middle Fork.



In 2 ½ hours of fishing I managed 2 rainbows and 9 browns mostly in the 10" to 11" range. My first fish was my best - a 15 1/2" brown.



Next stop was the "Dream Stream" section of the South Platte. This is arguably the most well know trout water in Colorado. It is a roughly 2 mile stretch of crystal clear water between 11Mile Reservoir and Spinny Mountain Reservoir which frequently harbors very large trout which run up from 11 Mile Reservoir. It is a very heavily fished piece of water where wind is frequently a problem with literally nothing to break the wind for many miles in any direction. Well on Sunday the wind was howling. I tried it for two hours with only four small rainbows for the effort. There was a blue wing olive hatch and there were fish rising to them (all small fish). But trying to cast #24 BWO dries on 6X tippet in a 30 mph wind got old really fast. Here's a shot of the "Dream Stream"



Last stop was the 11 Mile Canyon below 11 Mile Reservoir. Unfortunately the canyon can not be accessed directly from the reservoir; necessitating a drive of almost 20 miles just to get to the lower part of the canyon. But, by now it was late afternoon and I was still looking at about a three hour drive home. So, I only ventured about 3 miles up the canyon and only fished a little over an hour. Much of the stream in the canyon up to that point was very narrow and very deep with a fast current.



The stream here reminded me of a smaller version of the Cheeseman Canyon stretch another 30 or so miles and two reservoirs down river - huge boulders seemingly randomly distributed in the river and pools so deep you can't see the bottom even in the clear water. There were a few small caddis and blue wing olives flying, so I started with a dry and dropper combination which resulted in one missed fish and a 13" rainbow. At a really deep pool the dry/dropper got no attention so I switched to a heavily weighted wooly bugger and prince nymph dropper. I managed five fish from that pool, all rainbows with the nicest a hair shy of 16".



Yesterday was my first real taste of the fishing in South Park. Although it is a bit of a drive from Ft. Collins, it is definitely an area where I want to spend more time. Next year I think I may take the camper down there for a couple of multi day trips.

Guy
 

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Awesome report Guy! We camped right outside of Buena Vista on the river so that first pic looks very familiar. Gotta love the banana belt region of CO. I'll never forget skiing out there a few years back when it was sunny and downright balmy in town while Monarch was getting dumped on... hard to beat that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Jeff,

Saturday afternoon and into the evening, it was raining in Salida but above about 10,500' it was snow. Monarch and Silverton got upwards of 12". That made for some nice sceery Sunday morning - the cottonwoods and aspens in the valley in thier fall yellow color backed by the snow covered collegiate range. Arapahoe Basin ski area announced they will be opening for the season tomorrow.

Guy
 

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Spilunkr,
I
I spent three + years stationed at Ft Carson in the Springs. The Arkansas at Parkdale was one of my favorite places to fish. The browns always seemed to be cooperative on a caddis or hopper pattern. I also loved fishing the S. Platte. I caught my biggest fish a 21" hen rainbow 4 days after ice out in 1999. I enjoyed fishing the Cheeseman Canyon section of the S. Platte as well. I love your postings on fishing in Colorado. I really miss fishing out there sometimes. I have just retired from the Army after 21 years, so I hope to get back out in the next year or two. I may look you up when I get out there. I only fished the Poudre once and didn't have much luck. Take care and tight lines.
 

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Hey - stop spreading the good news! Our rivers are crowded as is....:nono: Just kidding. Welcome to our state and check out Colorado's Fishing Headquarters! for some great insight into whats going on all over.

Sitting here in DC working its great to see pics of home waters. But then I'll be after stripers with the long rod this weekend so its all good:clap:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
TD,

Crowded is one of those relative terms. Having spent my entire life on the east coast I have a slightly different perspective on how crowded a stream is compared to many people out here. A lot of people here feel the local waters are gewtting way overcrowded.

On one particularly popular eastern river I once drove 15 miles along the river before I could find enough room to squeeze into a 50' space between two other people which was fortunate because there was not much more water left. On some small wild trout streams I had to go elsewhere because there were already too many people where I wanted to fish. Opening days on stocked waters were a joke.

So far that has not happened here. The closest I have come to that situation was Cheeseman Canyon on the South Platte. Even on hard fished waters like the Big Thompson during the tourist season I have no trouble finding good water to fish. If I avoid the big name waters; I fequently see few if any other fishermen. Being a small water trout fisherman at heart, I have a huge amount of water to explore. Having lots of options is one of the best things about living here.

Guy
 

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Yea - I was being a smart alec. We complain about traffic in CO but hitting the beltway at any prime time make you realize how good things are out west. But I am enjoying it here, lots to see. If you need pointers on new locations let me know, I have lots of insight.

Charlie
 
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