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fish pole

What is fly-fishing?

The most important step in learning to fly fish is understanding how fly tackle works, and knowing how to select the right equipment is a close second. Fly fishing is a different sport than regular fishing, even though the objectives are the same. In fly fishing, it is the weight of the line, not the lure, that is cast. By whipping the line back and forth, the weight of the line carries the lure to the fish, rather than the weight of the lure carrying the line. This is why line selection is so crucial to fly fishing, and why there are hundreds of fly lines to choose from. (Our guides can assist you in this.)

"Tips and Reports"

Please click here "Home Page" for an Overview of fishing trips/lessons we offered.

Gear for Fishing

In additional to the obvious rod, reel and fly line, you should include flies, and you should study what kind of flies are needed in the area you fish in. Next, include floats, sinkers, forceps and knot trimmers; strike indicators; stream thermometers, a collapsible insect net, and a fish net. For books: an Orvis Streamside Insect Guide, a Field & Stream perpetual solumnar calendar, hatch charts, and maybe one or two of our recommended books below.

The vest is what distinquishes a fly-fisher. These endless gizmos need to be in your pocket, so you can stay in the middle of the stream. And, it's wise, if you're going to fish on a regular basis, to have an extra set of most of these repair type of items, because chances are you'll borrow it out of your vest and forget to put it back! Try a few out; there's ones with velcro, and others with zippers, and even buttons. Do they sag? Are they partially netted for breathing? Do they have enough loops? It's one item that you don't want someone buying for you as a gift; it's very personalized.

Gear Maintenance Tips:

Quick end-of-season reel maintenance tips ... Rinse thoroughly with hot, fresh water; oil moving parts sparingly; release drag tension to eliminate spring fatigue; replace worn or missing parts; cover entire reel with a very light coat of oil, place in a cloth bag and store in a dry place.

HOOKS: Did you know that surveys say that one of the main reasons fish get away is dull hooks? You can buy an inexpensive sharpener and get this done in minutes. Hooks should be sharp enough so the point digs slightly into a finger nail with minimal pressure. The little time it takes to sharpen your hooks is well worth it. (See our "books and gifts" page; normally $8.50 now $6.99)

RODS: There seems to be a spiraling cost for rods these days, but Bob Good at the Denver Post, has tried a few rods, and has found a good, fair priced one:
"As a flyfishing instructor for more than 30 years, one of the most common queries I receive now is how to buy a fly rod without breaking the bank. For the past three months I have been field testing an Orvis Silver Label 6 weight. Quite simply, I have fallen in lover with it. Priced at a very reasonable $260, it has performed flawlessly, doing everything I ask of it, while it exemplifies the all-around quality Orvis is famous for." Bob Good.

SHOES: Use comfortable shoes that are waterproof and draw sweat and water away from your feet--protecting you from the bane of all fishermen: cold, wet feet. If you come on one of our trips, we'll ask you your shoe size so that the rubber boots are a good fit. We ask your height and weight too.

WADERS: Leaky waders? At the end of the year, mail them off to the manufacturer for repair. Or, ask a friend or local shop. You can check to see how bad the leaks are, or where they are, the same way you check for holes in automobile tires: fill them with soapy water and watch for the bubbles to drip out. Call your local fish shop for tips on products to use to patch the holes, such as Aqua Seal or Simms Seal. Leaks along the seams (just like regular shoes) are very difficult to repair.

let's fishColorado Fishing Report

Colorado Fishing Weather:

Best Time to Fish: Can I say 'all season'? In the spring, the fish are condensed in the deeper runs, due to cold water, and you fish a larger concentration of fish. Peak season to many regular fishers is July to September. This is when the fish are most abundant. In the fall, the crowds are gone, and the fish aren't hiding. There's less competition for the best fishing spots. Colorado often has fair weather in the winter, with little snow on the east side of the mountains, enabling fishing in thin ice waters. Some damns allow release of warmer lower waters.

When do you chose lakes over rivers? June typically finds many fishermen trying to cope with swollen streams and muddied lakes brought on by mountain snow runoff. If runoff has you down, you might consider warm-water lakes. Warm-water fishing can remain good into July. The heat of the summer cools off the bite, but it picks up again in September.


Spring: The notorious Colorado rivers run rapidly during the spring runoffs, which often result in "dirty water" for a few weeks. Please check with our guides to see what the condition is. Usually your best spot to fish in March/April is the North Fork of the Big Thompson. The best fishing in May is in Estes Lake. The strong river flows do serve to flush out debris. Look for fish near the shoreline pockets. Spring (May/June) also brings out the biggest aquatic insects.

In the early Summer, locals look forward to the afternoon monsoon clouds. Anglers know that rainy weather not only keeps the hot Colorado sun off your neck, but it serves to mask the fake flies and lures. Trout can hardly tell what's passing them in the normal fast waters, but with the rain, they can't squint enough to make it out, and one lucky fisher gets 'em.

Autumn/Winter: If you miss the October final (peaceful) fishing days, you'll have to wait until next spring, unless you are both a diehard and very experienced fisher and want to go up for a challenge. In winter, many areas are frozen over, and many have lower water than previous years due to the drought-like summers beginning in 2000, although there have been significant gains in water levels over the winters of 2002/3 and 2003/4.

Fishing in ponds during the winter months can be a major challenge. Experts recommend as lures small jigs, tubes, or Carolina rigged four-inch worms. Fish very slowly. And normally you won't feel the bite, the line will just feel heavy. Until you get comfortable with detecting a strike, set the hook so that you can feel any pressure. (we picked this up from Brian Coleman, professional angler)

New License Fees and other Info:

LICENSES: New in 2009, Colorado anglers (and small game hundters) now have until March 31 to buy their new fishing and small game licenses. Licenses are valid April 1 through March 31 annually for small game, combination fishing and hunting, Colorado waterfowl stamp and habitat stamps at any license agent or CPW office, or by phone at 1-800-244-5613.

Purchase of a $10 Habitat Stamp is also required with the purchase of the first hunting or fishing license of each year. Ages 18 to under 65 years.

Fees for senior citizens are as follows, beginning in 2009: If older than 65, it is free. If older than 64, the fishing license is free, but $1 will be collected to meet the requirements that anyone who has a hunting or fishing license must pay; in other words, a 25-cent search-and-rescue fee and a 75-cent surcharge to fund the wildlife Public Education Advisory Council.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife held an angler rountable on January 20, 2009 to gather angler input. On the agenda was fishing regulation changes, new season date structure, mercury and fish consumption advisory information and the state's zebra/quagga mussel plan. Go to their web site to see the results of the talks.

The first full weekend of June is a Colorado's free fishing day.
It is also the annual Lake Estes Fishing Derby, running from 6:30 a.m. to noon. It is an all-ages event with prizes donated by local merchants for the largest fish caught in four age groups. Register at the Lake Estes marina; Contest cost if $4. Call (970) 586-2011 for more information. The Division of Wildlife stocks the lake the day before the derby.

Tips on Colorado Fish

Types of Fish in Colorado:

According to the State of Colorado Wildlife Office, there are roughly 20 species of gamefish in Colorado that are considered warm-water species. While large and small mouth bass are indeed popular, the primary prey for most anglers are crappie, saugeye and wiper. A panfish, crappie have been around since the 1880s and can grow to more than 15 inches. The saugeye and wiper are hybrid fish. The wiper is a cross between the white bass and striped bass. They are considered one of the strongest freshwater fish. Saugeye are a cross between sauger and walleye. Saugeye are prized for their notoriety as excellent tablefare. All three fish are members of the perch family and can be taken on a variety of jigs, lures and bait.

Did you know trout lacked eyelids, so it makes them more inclined to look up when there's no bright sunlight. Also, those yummy mayflies hatch best in low light conditions.

In Colorado, you may experience a cold front with blue skies; fish will either suspend or lie on the bottom. To determine where the fish are, use baits that work the bottom or middle.

Catches in past years, along the Roaring Fork River, were rainbows and browns, close to l8 inches, and healthy whitefish.

Both through strong stocking programs and good environments, the population of warm water fish is at or near peak in many eastern and southern reservoirs.

Colorado Stats: With more than 6,000 miles of streams and more than 2,000 lakes and reservoirs open to public fishing, you can't go far without tripping over a stream. Warm-water fare includes walleye, largemouth and smallmouth bass, catfish and bluegill. The high-country anglers will find the settings spectacular and the cutthroat, brook, brown, lake and rainbow trout all challenging.

Whirling Disease

According to DOW aquatic wildlife manager Steve Puttmann, there is plenty of water where the parasitic disease has had relatively little impact. "The rainbow components are as healthy as they've ever been. Those numbers were even up..."
Twelve years after an incurable disease began ravaging Colorado's government trout hatcheries, state wildlife biologists finally have agreed that it was tougher to get rid of than they thought. However, they feel that they have now learned to control it. The disease poses no threat to human health. It affects the fragile bone structure of baby fish and leaves them swimming in circles.

New Rainbow Trout Strains Provide Management Options for Colorado: Recently, rainbow trout strains have been identified that exhibit resistance to whirling disease. One strain in particular that has very strong resistance, named the “Hofer” rainbow, has been imported from Germany. Rainbow trout have been reared in fish culture facilities as food fish in that country since their original importation from the United States in the late 1800’s. Because whirling disease originated in Europe, some rainbow trout strains reared there have developed resistance to the parasite. The “Hofer” rainbow trout are being evaluated for use as a standard domestic catchable rainbow trout for put-and-take waters in Colorado. ... The first of these experiments was initiated in 2004, with very promising results. (And, an journal article was published on its findings in 2006.)
Check with your guide for updates.

Rainbow Trout

The greenback trout is the only trout native to Colorado's east slope. It allegedly disappeared around 1937 because of competition and hybridization with other "exotic" trout; add to that habitat degradation and over fishing in those early years. But wait! In the late 1920s two populations of greenback trout were discovered in Como Creek and the South Fork, waters on the more eastern slope. Thanks to the 1973 Endangered Species Act, these greenback were protected. For obvious reasons, these trout are either in proteced areas or are covered by government regulations as to how you can catch them (and release them).

It is a complicated process to breed and re-establish these greenbacks. If you want to help, contact the Alpine Anglers, a chapter of Trout Unlimited. Their primary reason for existence is to help this restoration, and they need more fresh volunteers. Or, send $5.00 for a attractive (medium size, square-shaped, color) sticker of the greenback cutthroat to support their work: send check to: Alpine Anglers, Chapter P.O. Box 4021, Estes Park, CO 80517

Native Fish Return

Two species that have not been seen in decades are returning to the Colorado rivers. Biologists found two endangered fish in parts of the Colorado and Yampa Rivers. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service released photos of the 16-inch adult male Colorado pikeminnow, captured in April, in the Colorado River near Grand Junction. They also released a photo of a 17-inch adult razorback sucker, caught in the Yampa River, upstream from the Dinosaur National Monument. Part of the significance of the catch is that it demostrates that the recovery program is showing some successs. The pikeminnow travelled at least 447 miles in the past 14 years. Small tags are inserted into the fish and scanned to track them. See the Wildlife web site for more details. (5/09)


A new alert for New Zealand Mudsnails. Always clean your wading gear before moving from one body of water to another body of water, as well as when you pack up your gear at the end of the trip. The only currently recommended clear is "Formula 409 All Purpose Antibacterial Kitchen Lemon Fresh." NOTE: NOT all 409 cleaners work; use this exact named one. This comes in some sizes for easy transport. Also, water based solutions with copper sulfate and Sparquat 256 will work. For further information, go to:

Best waters for Fishing and Boating:

Wild Trout Waters for totally wild (self-sustaining) trout; these waters equal nearly 120 miles of streams and 566 acres of lakes. – Gold Medal Waters offer outstanding opportunity to catch the large (potential trophy) trout. Only the highest quality rivers are designated; of which there are 158 miles and three lakes.

Arkansas River
More experienced fisherpersons may be interested in knowing that they can bring their boat on the Arkansas River. It is one of the nation's ten most popular recreational boating rivers. U.S. Highway 50 parallels much of the lower river, providing fishing and boating access, family picnicking, viewing opportunities, and great spots to photograph friends rafting on the river. This river is known as one of the best fishing rivers in Colorado. Flyfishing is popular, as well as bait or lure fishers. Catch 8 to 14" stocked rainbows, or brown trout up to 4 pounds.

Collegiate Peaks to the West of Buena Vista
These lakes see few people, and offer some trophy size trout, including native species. The altitudes can be from 10,000 to 11,500 feet. You're likely to see plenty of wildlife, including beavers, whose dams offer good fishing. Much is tough hiking, but you'll see amazing vistas, including some waterfalls.

Vega State Park Here's a little known park to outsiders, but is appreciated by locals because the reservoir and its surrounding meadows offer late and early fishing due to short freezing periods; and ice fishing.

Navajo State Park
35-mile long Navajo Reservoir extends well into New Mexico. The park's 15,000 acres (including 3,000 acres on the Colorado side) offer a challenge to the angler and unlimited pleasure to the boater and water-skier. Navajo boasts Colorado's largest boat ramp at 80 feet wide and a quarter-mile long.

Three Dams near Delta
Morrow Point and Crystal Reservoirs and Blue Mesa are off U.S. Highway 50 near Montrose just off Colorado Highway 92. (Be sure to check a map for more detailed directions.) A vigorous hike is needed to reach either reservoir. The exercise is worth the trip for nature lovers and photographers. Fishing enthusiasts can select from rainbow, German brown, or lake (mackinaw) trout, or kokanee salmon. It offers the usual water activities. The reservoir area's natural beauty accents the variety of trout and kokanee salmon that are found at Blue Mesa.

Best place to fish:

The Irresistible Fly that caught the Fish (Obituary 2002)fly

Hank Roberts died in April (2002). He had his name on many flies; and even today seniors still tell tales of how they noticed how a certain fly would catch anything they wanted to catch.

"Today no one wants to talk to a l2 year old," said Wally Allen; but he remembers the day he met Henry Alfred Roberts in his Boulder, Colorado shop. "He knew everyone who came in the store and knew their name. He knew I was making my money from a paper route, so he would slip a few extras into the bag." Allen still has that first fly, with tiny, puffy brown, white and black fur and feathers, with a tiny barb, called The Irresistible.

While supporting a new wife selling appliances, Roberts spent his spare time typing flies. When the demand for flies got too high, he quit his job and opened his Fly Shop.

"He brought a stylishness, a reimagination of sport to Boulder that it had never known before. He was in a sense inventing Western fly-fishing out of whole cloth, and in retrospect, that's exciting," said Gordon Wickstrom, a Boulder native, and author of the book noted below. "It meant a whole new approach to the trout fly. He introduced the complicated woven body nymphs, which were invented in Montanta but developed and marketed here. It was a slightly more rugged version of fishing in wilder waters."

The odd thing was, Roberts dressed like a fine gentleman, and even sometimes fished the wild waters with his tie on. For him fishing was a social sport; he loved talking with people, and teaching newcomers, sometimes even more than catching a fish.

There's not enough space here to tell the whole story, of his family's involvement in the business, or his efforts to protect the streams of Colorado. See "Notes from an Old Fly Book" and Obituaries section "A Colorado Life", "DenverPost" 4/28/02.

American Museum of Fly Fishing.

Take a look at this site for some interesting facts; it has both a members and guest section.

National Flyfishing championship :

Headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, in 2006, the National Fly Fishing Championship and Conservation Symposium took place May 30 to June 4, with stops highlighted in Estes Park and the RMNP. Master anglers from around the nation waded the waters of Colorado for the three-day tournament. Three other locations in the state, were featued, including the popular Big Thompson, nearby, and Lily Lake, also in the RMNP. Previously, this event took place for several years in nearby Lyons, Colorado. Follow above link for results.

For more information on the 2007/08 winner, go to:
Here is an excerpt: "Drought conditions that turned Rocky Mountain rivers into Pennsylvania-style streams gave Lock Haven, Pa.'s George Daniel the edge he needed to win the gold medal at the 2008 U.S. National Fly Fishing Championship Oct. 4-6 in Boulder, Colo. Daniel, a pro angler who works at the TCO Fly Shop in State College and has presented casting demos in this area, out-fished 70 challengers on Colorado's Big Thompson and Poudre rivers, and two lakes."

According to Daniel, "The 2007 championships doubled as the 2008 championships due to a timeline. There will be a 2009 championship in PA later this year to qualify team members for the 2010 World Championships in Poland."

For more information, go to:

Federation of Fly Fishrers 44th Annual Intern. Fly Fishing Show and Conclave:

=July 28 to Aug 1, 2009= Fly fishers from across the USA are coming together in Loveland, Colorado. More than 80 workshops and clinics offered. Prominent authors in flyfishing are speaking. $5 registration. Register on-site during the event. Must be a member of FFF. Go to the Conclave's web site, by clicking the link.

fish-guide Colorado Division of Wildlife

Want the latest news on fishing in Colorado? Details on buying a license? ... Season Dates, fees, species identification, education, awards and records. Go to this page. Click on the DOW search link and "personalize this site" at the top of the page; and leave your email address with the DOW Insider. When you do, they’ll automatically send you the latest news on fishing in Colorado as well as updates on all wildlife related activities, free. (click on Wildlife link above)

GUIDE BOOK: Note, each year a new brochure is issued by the Colorado Division of Wildlife; be sure to use the correct one. In 2006, a Habitat stamp was added for state wildlife areas (see below).

LICENSE and FEES: Non resident License: Annual $40.25 non-resident, $20.25 resident; five-day $18.25; one-day $5.25; $5.00 addtl. day; and $18.25 for 5-consequetive days. Youth small game, furbearer and fishing (under 16): $1.00 Includes required Colorado Conservation Certificate. National Park Fee: $20, or $5 walk in. Private Water Rod fee: $25 (subject to change). We understand that you can get your license through the mail by using their web site. (See "Habitat Stamp" below for new 2006 regulations) In 2009, the expiration date was changed from January to March 31. Age 64 pays $1 (fees described under "Stamps" section) and Age 65 or older is free.

GET A FREE FISHING GUIDE: Receive a 40-page fishing guide when you purchase a one-year magazine subscription to Colorado Outdoors. Published six times a year, it’s the official magazine of the Colorado Division of Wildlife and costs just $10.50. See Colorado Outdoors subscriptions or call 1-800-417-8986 to order the magazine and receive your free guide. If you would like to just order the 2003 Fishing Guide, it is available through Shop@DOW for $5. Go to the Colorado Division of Wildlife web site for more information.

FISHING ENTHUSIASTS AND NEWS MEDIA: The State regularly posts news releases regarding fishing outlooks. Find the outlook on the state’s top streams and lakes, how to safely release fish in catch and release areas, new regulations and more!

The State also is calling for recipes, tells you about special license purchases, current areas for best fishing. And free days in June. (you don't need a license if you're a resident).


One-day Anglers Need Habitat Stamp at State Wildlife Areas (May 2006): Anglers who buy a one-day fishing license in Colorado and who plan to fish at a State Wildlife Areas are reminded that they must also obtain a wildlife habitat stamp. The habitat stamp is not needed, however, if an angler fishes waters that are not located on a state wildlife area. Anglers should know where they are going to fish before buying the one-day license to determine if they will be entering a state wildlife area. A one-day license costs $9, the habitat stamp costs $5. A habitat stamp is needed by anyone 19 to 64 years old who enters a state wildlife area. The Colorado habitat stamp program is new in 2006. Income from the stamp will be used to protect and improve wildlife habitat throughout the state. The Colorado habitat stamp program is new in 2006. Income from the stamp will be used to protect and improve wildlife habitat throughout the state. Following are the types of fishing licenses available in Colorado. The prices include the $5 habitat stamp, a 25 cent search and rescue fee and a 75 cent wildlife education fee. Residents: annual license for ages 16 to 63, $31; combination fishing and small game, $46; second rod stamp, $5; annual licenses for anglers 64 or older are free, add $5 for the habitat stamp. Non-residents: annual license $61; five-day license, $26; second rod stamp $5. For more information, go to the Colorado Division of Wildlife web site at

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Date last modified: April 27, 2012 9:00 AM

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