When we mapped out our River Ramble route, we knew we’d be hitting some locations at their “ideal” times for fishing and others not so much. When we worked on Colorado, we’d planned on fishing the South Platte and Arkansas in October 2017. In 2018, our plan was to fish the remaining 7 trout streams from the book, “Trout Unlimited’s Guide to Americas Greatest 100 Trout Streams”. As it turned out, we hit the Colorado fly fishing jackpot. We hit 8 of the 9 streams under ideal conditions (Big Thompson was way high) and were able to fish dries almost exclusively on most of the streams. At each location we visited, the water had recently come down, and the fish were hungry. We were definitely on a “Rocky Mountain High” in Colorado…. just on fly fishing…. winks!
We know you’ll enjoy this highlight video, “Colorful Colorado”. Below is some brief information about each stream (in order with the video above) and links to our individual posts, “Guide Talks” and more.
What’s not to like about Durango…. live music, incredible craft beer and incredible fly fishing. We floated the river with “Crazy Mike” Sulkosky (Duranglers Flies & Supplies), caught fish….. took a swim, had a blast and did our “Animas Antics” guide talk. Our Durango area adventure then took us on the Durango & Silverton Railroad toward Silverton along the Animas River , but we got off at Cascade Creek and fished. Talk about an adventure…. we wrote a blog post, “Cascade Canyon Caper” just on this daylong journey.
When we met our float guide, Billy Hicks (“ArkAngler Billy“), for our Arkansas River trip in Salida at the ArkAnglers Fly Shop, we found out he was originally from a small town in Missouri nearby where Barb and I grew up. Billy put us on fish all day as we floated the section right through town. We were joined by our good fishing buddies, James Kelley and Dan McCormack for more fishing, along with another ArkAnglers guide, Preston Larimer. We waded in several different sections of the river and found fish in each one. You’ll notice the epitome of “high sticking” done by Dan in the video.
Just up (or down) the road from Salida, we fished the South Platte River with Vinnie Renda (“VSP“) of South Platte Fly Shop in Woodland Park. We found a few of those fabled browns in the “Dream Stream” and chased them in Eleven Mile Canyon as well. Several evenings we found ourselves in a local cafe, eating, drinking and watching the Cubs win the National League pennant on their way to becoming World Series Champs.
Big Thompson / Rocky Mountain National Park
We pulled the SaraLinda into Estes Park and headed to Kirk’s Fly Shop to meet up with Jeffrey “Mohawk” Curren (“MO“), our guide for the Big Thompson. The river was flowing high and fast, but “Mo” found spots for us to wet a line and hook into a few fish. Our youngest daughter Kelly joined us for some hiking to alpine lakes and viewing wildlife… really wildlife when you see the pic of Barb and Kelly at one of the trailheads. We found some beautiful fish along our hikes as well.
We fished the Upper Colorado both inside Rocky Mountain NP, as well as at several local access points such as Hot Sulphur Springs State Wildlife Area…. small fish in the park, larger fish downstream at the access points. I even found a nice rock in the middle of the river to enjoy!
We met our guides for the two rivers near Basalt at Frying Pan Anglers. Eric (“in the Frying Pan“) Way, our guide for the “Pan” as it’s known, took us to several spots that were more remote from the horde of anglers that flock to this stream in the summer. Right off the bat, he put me onto a big rainbow that set the stage for our day.
July 4th on the Roaring Fork (“Fireworks“) was a trip to be remembered forever. We put in with Ed Deison, in a drift boat, along with what seemed all of Aspen, Basalt and Carbondale. There were rafts, tubes and drift boats galore working their way downstream. However, the “bite” was on…. dry flies, nymphs…. everything worked! In one of the pictures in the video, you’ll see me holding a big fish, with Ed taking a picture of it…. supposedly because each day the FPA guides see who catches the biggest fish. Ed thought this was a candidate until as he was taking this picture, Dylan Mendoza pulled up next to us and his client had just caught one a couple of inches longer. We went back out a couple of days later with Dylan and had a “double”. We had some tasty BBQ as well at an out of the way joint, Slow Groovin’ BBQ in Marble.
We didn’t float just any section of the Gunnison, we floated the Black Canyon section. Another one of those “bucket list” trips that involved meeting at 6am…. riding to the Gunnision Gorge…. then 7 miles down a road that no one in their right mind would go down without a SERIOUS 4WD, high clearance vehicle. Then, after 7 miles driving, we walked Chukar Trail down to our waiting rafts on the Colorado. The fishing was great, but you have to watch “Our Day in the Gunnison Gorge”, which details in video what this trip feels like, including the 19 named rapids. We visited the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and descending down a 16% grade to the water, found some good fishing holes. We also took time to visit a very cool mountain town, Ouray, and also found some beer…. of course!
We laughed as we pulled into the RV park in South Fork (CO) seeing about a dozen RVs, all from Texas. Seems South Fork is a “home away from home” for many Texans. We’d met the owner of Wolf Creek Angler at a GRTU TroutFest a year before and were set to fish with them. We set off with our guide, Aaron Horrocks, and fished assorted dry flies all day with nary a need for a nymph or streamer. We coined it “Dry Fly Daze“.
We couldn’t resist putting the last picture in. We’d driven up to Creede to see the small town and eat at a restaurant Aaron had highly recommended. We stumbled across the Ramble House fly shop…. seemed appropriate along our way.
Note: The opening video clip is from the Frying Pan and the closing video clip is from a bridge overlooking the Roaring Fork.