Fall is a fantastic time for fly fishing in Colorado. There is no more magical time to be spending time on the waters of the Colorado high country than in the fall. The cooler temperatures, changing foliage, and reduced crowds make it an ideal season to enjoy the state’s beautiful rivers and lakes. Trout, namely Brown trout are feeding very aggressively as they are getting ready to spawn. Whether you are a die-hard Dry fly angler or you prefer to chuck big Streamers for big fish this is your time to shine! The Vail and Roaring Fork valleys are some of the best places to hit the fall season. The nights are cool, and the days are very comfortable. Consistent water temperatures make for more reliable hatches of late summer caddis, Blue Winged Olives, Midges and of course there are still plenty of hoppers and other Terrestrials for the trout to feed on. Here are some tips and destinations for fall fly fishing in Colorado:
- Choose the Right Rivers and Streams:
- Eagle River: For the serious wade fisherman this classic large Freestone River offers the chance to catch large Brown, rainbow and Cuttbow trout. It’d not uncommon to catch trout in the 20-inch class on the Eagle from the Edwards to Dotsero (30 Miles of river) with ample public access.
- Colorado River: Probably the most famous river in the state the Colorado has trout water from Rockey Mountain national park to Grand Junction (roughly 100 miles). It’s the stretch of the Colorado from Kremmling to Rifle that offers some of the best fall season angling. Wade and float fishing access on this part of the river is excellent! What draws most anglers to this river in the fall is the Streamer fishing for big Brown trout. Bring your 6-7 wt. rod and the biggest Streamers you own for this extortionary fly fishing experience. A Full day Float is the recommended way to get the most out of the Colorado in the fall.
- Roaring Fork River: Not necessarily known for its beauty as much as the quality fishing, the Fork is an incredible Fall and Spring trout river. There is a ton of public access on the fork. The most popular stretch is from basalt to Glenwood Springs. Its lower elevation makes for warmer days. Wade and float fishing opportunities are excellent at this time of year. There are great hatches of Blue Winged Olives, the Streamer fishing is electric.
- Fryingpan River: This tributary of the Roaring Fork is renowned for its fall hatches and challenging fishing. The “Pan” is arguably one of the most famous trout streams in North America. Therefore, it is also one of the most challenging. A Tailwater fishery that boasts some impressive trou that are prone to feed on very small insects and the Mysis shrimp that flow out of the bottom release dam. This is a wade fishing only river that also has a lot of posted private water. But when the Blue Winged Olives and Midges are hatching it can be a tremendous dry fly stream.
- Timing and Weather: Pay attention to the weather, as cooler temperatures can impact insect activity and fish behavior. Be prepared for chilly mornings and evenings. Early fall can be a good time for terrestrial patterns as grasshoppers and beetles become more active. Once we get the first hard freeze in late fall that will be the end of the hopper season.
- Fall Fly Selection: Caddis are still going to be present, mostly in the afternoons and evenings. the body colors this time of year are olive, brown and Black. fall is also the time of year that some of our rivers get an October Caddis hatch, this is a very dark orange and very large sub species of caddis.
Blue Winged Olive: The Blue Winged Olive (BWO) is the predominate Mayfly of Spring and Fall. These flies prefer to hatch on cloudy days, but can also hatch on sunny days when conditions are right. Often in the size 16-22 range, these insects are the perfect dry/dropper set up
Streamers: Fall is the best time of the year for fishing big streamers for big trout. Pre spawn Browns and aggressive feeding Rainbows are on the prowl for a big meal before winter sets in. This is our favorite part of fall fishing! Floating the Roaring Fork and the Colorado using 6-7 wt rods throwing big single and double streamer rigs is something that every Fly angler needs to experience.
- Fishing Techniques:
In early fall, fish may still be actively feeding on the surface, so dry fly fishing can be productive. As the season progresses, nymphing and streamer fishing become more important technique. Adjust your approach based on the specific river and conditions you encounter.
- Local Advice:
Consider hiring a local guide or seeking advice from a fly shop in the area. They can provide valuable insights on the best spots and techniques for fall fishing in Colorado.
Remember that fishing conditions can vary from year to year, so it’s a good idea to check with local fishing reports and talk to fellow anglers for the most up-to-date information on the best places and techniques for fall fly fishing in Colorado. Enjoy the stunning scenery and the opportunity to catch some beautiful trout during this picturesque season.