5 QuickTips for Fly Fishing Highly Pressured Waters

Colorado has many thousands of miles of streams and rivers that are great for trout fly fishing, but there are certain stretches—mainly our fantastic tailwaters—that receive the majority of the angling pressure. Do not let a highly pressured river, and its “educated” trout, intimidate you as there are many different tactics you can take to stack the odds in your favor. Here are a handful.

Be Patient: Before you think about wetting your line, take a step back and observe the water. Too often we rush into fishy looking water and spook large trout that were along the bank or we rigged up at the car and have the wrong setup on. 5 quick tips 1When you arrive at the river look for insects hatching, or whether the fish are feeding in tailouts or the head of riffles. Observe the surrounding weather so you’ll know which fly patterns will work best with cloud coverage. A simple two minutes of observation before you make your first cast may tip you to a flash in the tailout that turns into a 22 inch rainbow!

Adaptation is Crucial: The river is a living, moving organism that can change day-by-day and certainly hour-by-hour. As anglers we must be prepared to make the necessary adjustments throughout the day, especially on a highly pressured river. This could be as simple as switching from a dry fly setup to a subsurface nymph rig, but it can also be more complex than that. Adjusting your weight on a nymph rig, changing the size of your fly patterns (smaller is usually better), and noting when trout are moving from deep water into riffles should have you playing a mental game of chess. And in this game of adjustment there is nothing more useful than good old fashioned observation.

Use Fluorocarbon: There are many occasions in which you’ll want to have the Nylon v Fluorocarbon leader and tippet debate. But when fishing a highly pressured river, such as The Taylor River where the fish can get extremely large and extremely skittish, you’ll want every advantage you can get. 5 quick tips 2The light refractive index of Fluorocarbon tippet is very similar to that of fresh water so when it’s submerged in a river it is almost near invisible to a trout’s eye. This element of Fluorocarbon makes it essential to fishing highly pressured river and its trout.

Be a River Ninja: You’re going to want to be as stealthy as possible when fly fishing water that receives an excessive amount of angling pressure. This starts with your approach into any given run or riffle. Trout have a blind spot, and it’s directly behind them, so begin your presentation at the tailout of the riffle and make upstream presentations, so as to keep out of their periphery. Also, wear colors that blend in with your surroundings. During winter I like to wear gray jackets, during spring I’ll wear more green colored shirts. Match your environment!

Sunglasses Matter: Using polarized sunglasses will allow you as an angler to cut through the glare of river and will help you identify what the heck is going on down there! In a highly pressured river, fishing “fishy” water will occasionally get you the lucky trout, but to be a truly effective angler on these waters requires you to be able to sight fish to feeding trout. You need to be able to spot feeding trout and their movements so you know exactly where your cast, mend, and presentation should be. Point being, I’d rather leave my waders at home than my polarized shades.

Colorado WInter Fly FIshing: WInter Hot Spots

Colorado has been in a dry weather pattern for the last couple weeks. The temps have been in the high 30″s in the high country and reaching the 60’s in Denver. After a cool down tonight the warmer weather should be back for the weekend. If you want to run into people you can always find fish on one of the many tailwater rivers around the state. For some reason I feel like telling you Colorado Rainbow Troutto go to the Taylor River this weekend and see if you can find a fat Mysis fed Rainbow Trout in the catch and release section. In fact if I was a single guy I might do that. Otherwise if you want to get out of the city the Eagle River is still fishing well. I have been seeing a lot of bigger midges and small BWO’s in the afternoon and fish are rising to them. You will find warmer temps on the front range so the South Platte or Arkansan below Pueblo should be rockin’. I xgameswould try and stay away from the Roaring Fork this weekend. Although the fishing has been solid in the Roaring Fork Valley the X- Games are in town and there will be a ton of Traffic on HWY 82. Good luck out there. Send us your fish pics from the weekend.


Colorado Tailwater Tactics: Winter Fly Fishing For Picky Trout

Fly Fishing during the winter months in Colorado can be a great time to be on the water. Although many of our freestone rivers tend to freeze, an angler can find open water on one of our many Tailwater Rivers like the Frying Pan, Yampa, Blue or Southplatte.

Frying Pan River Rainbow Trout
Frying Pan River Rainbow Trout

Although we are blessed with these waters they are not always the closest stretches to reach. Often times these rivers can be a couple hours or more away. And since they are open and boast large numbers of fish they also attract a lot of anglers. There is nothing worse than making a long drive to find the river extremely crowded. If a tailwater is on your winter fishing list I would recommend leaving early and staking your claim. Bundle up too. A lot of these tailwater rivers are in shaded areas and only get so much sun (if any) a day.

Mid Frying Pan River
Mid Frying Pan River

Be sure to check the reports before heading to the river. Although the flows of a tailwater tend to stay steady during the winter the hatches can vary and fishing can slow down during a damn release or shut down. These cold clean rivers can be very rewarding to a hearty angler who can bear the cold during the long winter. Tailwater fisheries have an abundances of insect life and keep the resident trout fat and happy, even during the coldest winter months. With all the aquatic insect life to choose from these fish can be very picky as well. Having a box full of midges in a many different colors can make the difference between a banner day and a mediocre one. Like above mentioned the water is also very very clear so having tippet in the 5x-7x range is a must. Sometimes using a lighter rod is beneficial when using lighter tippet, but that is another discussion. A lot of these tailwater fisheries have trout in the 8-10 lb range with even bigger trout being caught each year.

Frying Pan Brown Trout - Colorado
Frying Pan Brown Trout – Colorado

The Frying Pan and Taylor River are both famous for it’s large Mysis fed trout. Nymphing is a great technique employed during the cold of winter, but midge hatches can be prolific giving the fly angler the opportunity to catch fish on small dry flies during the winter. If the snow brings you to Colorado for the skiing don’t over look the fly fishing. It is a good way to skip the lift lines and ice down your tired legs after hitting the hill. You might even get lucky and land the trophy trout you see in magazines.

Colorado Tailwater Fly Fishing Forecast

This is a excellent time of the year to explore some of Colorado’s Tailwater Rivers. Current water flows are a littler higher on our Tailwaters as reservoirs make room for spring runoff. These hIgher flows move the trout around and also push large amounts of midges,

Spencer With A Fish From The Blue River
Spencer With A Fish From The Blue River

Mysis shrimp and other invertebrates down the river. This combination makes hooking picky tailwater trout a little easier.  The Blue river is fishing very well with the higher water levels, but if you are up for an adventure I would head towards the Taylor and try your luck.

Although the Taylor can be extremely cold this time of year an angler can get rewarded for his/her efforts. Many fish in the upper section push the double digit mark and can be extremely difficult to hook. Make sure to bring all the warm clothes you own as well as plenty of small nymph patterns.

Pheasant tails work well and so do Mysis. I have found that you need several different Mysis patterns to be successful on the Taylor. Keep in mind that fish are in spawn mode so if you see them staged up let them do there thing in piece. They will be hungry soon and  we can catch them then. Have fun out there and enjoy all the tailwaters Colorado has to offer.

Colorado Tailwater Rainbow Trout
Colorado Tailwater Rainbow Trout

Colorado Fly Fishing: Tailwater Weekend

Cold, Snow and Wind is what you will be facing this weekend on the water. winter evergreensAt least in the high country. Denver is looking a little less chilly but cold none the less. If you have to get out this weekend you should find solitude on many Colorado Rivers. It continues to Snow so the ski hills will be packed and the rivers quiet. With the colder temps I would focus on finding a tailwater that is nearby. When temps plummet into the single and negative digits a lot of anchor ice can build up on the freestone rivers. The Frying Pan has a good flow right now and you could catch ’em on dries if you are sick of staring at the bobber. Be careful driving on the Frying Pan Road. All the snow has made the road narrower and the blind corners are deadly. No need to rush. The river will still be there.

Blue River
Blue River

They just bumped up the Blue River below Dillion so that will get some fish moving around.mysis The crowds are always a gamble on the Blue especially on the weekend. If you choose to go, I’d fish through the outlets, you will probably find some big rainbows eating Mysis Shrimp. The pattern seen here is a Umpqua Fly that I find to be effective. If you stare at it long enough it starts to look really “shrimpy.” Have fun out there and be careful on the snowy roads.