THE COLORADO RIVER
Although a relatively small stretch of Colorado River’s lengthy 1,450 miles sustains trout populations, Colorado offer over 150 miles of trout water. Even the most discriminating angler will find water to match preference or skill level. The first section of the river covered on in our map runs from Windy Gap Reservoir to State Bridge. It has a reputation for great dry fly fishing and designated Gold Medal Water.
Below State Bridge to Dotsero the section is more conducive to floating because of abutting private property. This stretch offers good dry fly fishing with terrestrials.
From Dotsero to Rifle section boasts the largest fish. Scenic Glenwood Canyon offers miles of public water and excellent fishing. Further downstream of Glenwood the climate leads to very early and very late hatches. It will be too murky to fish from May through July because of runoff.
Map below: Clip of Mike Shook’s Fishing Map & Floater’s Guide to the Roaring Fork & Fryingpan
THE ROARING FORK RIVER
With over 28 miles of designated Gold Medal Water the Roaring Fork River is one of the west’s finest rivers for trout fishing. The freestone river winds its way down Independence ass to the confluence with the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs. The headwaters start well above 12,000ft and although it looks like an alpine creek it offers outstanding fishing for wild brook trout and well as stocked rainbows.
The section from Woody Creek to Basalt is characterized by nice pocket water and long riffles, punctuated by an occasional pool and run. Caddis and mayflies are prolific here. Even winter fishing in the large pools that aren’t iced over can be very good. The “middle” roaring Fork, from Basalt to Carbondale, runs more slowly has less public access. Brown trout and mountain whitefish are abundant in the middle section.
From Carbondale to Glenwood Springs is a classic meandering Western river. Drift boats are a great choice for this stretch. Hatches start sooner down here and don’t last long. The largest fish in the river, 5 – 8 pounds, are landed on this section of the Roaring Fork.
THE FRYINGPAN RIVER
The Fryingpan is considered to be some of the finest trout fishing in the west. Healthy populations of rainbow, brown and cutthroat trout provide year-round fishing. A few brook trout are known to be here, giving the fisherman the chance to land a “grand slam” in one day. Both the regulations that require catch-and-release fishing below the dam and the steady supply of mysis shrimp afford you opportunity to catch trophy size trout. Check out our full map for detailed information on public access points and insect pattern suggestions.
Incredible insect life on the Pan is what sets this river apart. It also makes this one of the most heavily fished rivers in the state. It is not uncommon to be fishing side by side with other anglers. Depending on a given year’s snowpack, the river below Ruedi Reservoir can be be fishable during spring runoff season, when all other rivers are not. During runoff, large, easily seen nymphs followed by a naturalistic dropper can be very productive.
THE CRYSTAL RIVER
One of the few remaining free-flowing rivers in the west, the Crystal River flows for over thirty miles; from its headwaters above the small town of Marble down to its confluence with the Roaring Fork River just below the town of Carbondale. Until recently, the detrimental effects of mining in the Crystal River Valley really took its toll on the fishing. Nowadays however, there is no more mining in the valley and the river fishes well. The aquatic insects have bounced back amazingly fast and the fish have moved in accordingly.
Besides the abundance of Mountain Whitefish in the Crystal River, good sized rainbows and browns move up from the Roaring Fork and provide excellent fishing opportunities. If you like catching mountain whitefish, however, they are abundant all the way up to the town of Marble. The Crystal River starts fishing well just after spring runoff in late June or early July. The water level than steadily drops throughout the summer months and offers good fishing through October. The lower Crystal River also offers good winter fishing opportunities on mild days. The best fishing on the Crystal, however, is during the months of July and August when there is plenty of good holding water. After that, the river gets low and Mountain Whitefish dominate most of the good holes.