Winter Fly Fishing in Colorado’s Ski Country

bryan townsend Jan 2014-5

Colorado is ski country let’s get that straight. To most casual observers, winter in Colorado means waxing up the boards and hitting the snow, waiting in lift lines and sitting in traffic.

But to those of us in the know, winter is a dual sport season.  Since moving to Vail/Beaver Creek in 1992 I have been blessed with more great days of skiing/riding then I can count.

It wasn’t until about 1995 that I was introduced to winter fly fishing that I truly experienced the meaning of life in the mountains.  Where I grew up in the Midwest you were crazy to fish anything other than a Tip- up in a heated shanty with a couch and beverage ie; Grumpy Old Men.

I discovered that fly fishing here in Colorado is definitely a 365 day a year activity!  Whether it’s the tailwaters below dams that maintain constant temperatures, Banana belts or Micro climates, whatever you want to call it there is always fishable water within a short drive of Vail/Beaver Creek.  Spring creeks often feed warmer water into the main river systems creating perfect scenarios for catching Trout.  Also just the change in elevation you encounter in the matter of a 20-mile drive means a dramatic increase change in air temperature.

That being said, as a “Dry fly” fisherman (snob) I wasn’t as game for having to get down and dirty for my Trout, big mistake!  The former owner of FFO Bill Perry showed me the light and I was beside myself with laughter as I was catching fish after fish.  It is true that while the most effective method of catching vs fishing is nymphing there is still days when fish will rise in the middle of a snow squall to a size 20 adult Midge imitation.

There is a little bit of an adjustment to be made in terms of your technique, fly selection and presentation, but overall the fishing can be easier since the food supply is narrowed down to just a couple insect patters.  Covering water at a slower pace and casting sometimes to the same spot more than once is key some days.  But in the last 20 years, the days I have spent shredding morning powder and slaying afternoon Trout are more than I can count.  I have spent a good number of those winters guiding and have had the pleasure of watching someone’s skepticism turn to absolute joy and contentment.

Are you coming to ski this winter in Vail/Beaver Creek? Why not give fly fishing a go?! After a day on the mountain relaxing with the family and enjoying a little time on the water with the world’s finest guides  brings the total Colorado experience full circle.

“That’s why we live here in Colorado” is the phrase I hear coming from my mouth almost every day during what we call the 5th. season.

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