Fly Fishing Private Water

Colorado is a state with a lot of private water that does not get fished by the public. There are also fly fishing clubs and leases held by outfitters that allow members or paying clients to fish certain sections of water. But, it all comes at a price. Often times that price is worth it and other times it is tough to justify. As a guide taking clients to a section of private water you can often get looked at as a cheater, or get sly remarks from other guides who float by. If you are one of these guides take those remarks with a grain of salt and do not let it ruin your fishing day. Sure private water is nice to guide on for multiple reasons but the one that trumps all the others is availability. It is nice to know where you are going to fish and that no one else will be there. Especially in the summer when each shop has 20 trips a day out the door.


Fishing private water doesn’t mean you are fishing for fake fish. There are many leases of private water that hold the same trout the public sections do. The only difference is that they do not get the pressure that other pieces of water get. Does that mean the fish are easier to catch? well that is a slippery slope. Fish behavior is fish behavior and if the fish are feeding well that day chances are you will have a great day on the river despite where you are. But, if fishing is tough it can be tough regardless of where you are fishing.

The biggest sell for those who wish to fish private water is exactly that, It is private. Meaning that you will be the only anglers on a given section and do not have to worry about another angler sliding into your run if you want to stop and have a beer. Of course it would be great if we could hop into the river wherever we please but at this point in our lives that is not the case. At least not in Colorado. If you are someone who is considering paying the extra rod fee to access a private section of water, here are a few things to think about.

Rainbow Trout caught on public section of water.
Rainbow Trout caught on public section of water.

Length of beat/section of water you will be fishing- If you only have a short section of private to fish is it worth spending a bunch more money to fish it? Probably not. There is only some many times you can drift your bugs in front of fish before they key in to you. It is also nice to fish new water instead of staring at the same location for hours on end.

Type of water- Is it easy to fish? Is it fast pocket water with only one or two good runs? This is a good question to ask. If I get a client who is on the fence and is considering fishing private water, I check to see what beat is available. If the beat is not excellent and worth the rod fee, I tell them it is not worth the money. The shop hates this. But, you have to be honest with your sports.

Access- Is it difficult to get to?

Time of year- I would say that if you have the extra jingle and do not want to rush out of the house booking a private section of water is for you. It is nice to take your time and get to the river during bankers hours without the worry of finding another angler in your spot. July, August and September are the months to consider this.

Think of the above mentioned if you are offered the private water upgrade. Ask your guide and tell him/her to shoot you straight.  Remember, just because you are fishing less pressured water doesn’t mean that you are going to catch every fish in the river. You still have to make a good drift and set the hook.

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