By: Larry Reister
Fly fishing in the winter? That’s right, winter doesn’t necessarily mean ice-fishing. In recent years, winter fly fishing has become more and more popular and offers anglers complete solitude, awesome adventure, not to mention some incredible fishing!
Here are a few location options for those looking to cast some lines this President’s Day and rest of winter!
Winter fishing is best where water is released from the bottom of reservoirs, keeping the water a bit warmer. These areas offer some great opportunities for the winter trout anglers out there. Some of these river systems, like the South Platte, have several different tailwater sections that are available to fish through the winter. Three miles downstream, the South Fork of the South Platte hits Eleven Mile Reservoir.
Just below this reservoir is the 11 Mile Canyon and although the lower portions of the canyon may be iced through the winter, the top mile tends to remain open. Due to easy travel from the Denver Metro area and Colorado Springs, you may run into some other avid anglers here, even in the dead of winter.
Cheesman Canyon is also a great winter fishery and is located on the South Fork of the Platte. This canyon is fishable throughout the winter most years! Treat yourself to a day of solitude on a random workday and test these beautiful browns and bows.
When in the Cheesman Canyon area, don’t overlook fishing around the town of Deckers, especially if the weather has been warm and the flows are up. This stretch can be iced up during the heart of winter but also offers winter fisherman a relaxing environment with hungry trout.
Fisherman who also ride mountain bikes will enjoy the last major winter trout fishery on the Platte before it gets to Denver. Waterton Canyon is a hit toward the top where it exits the reservoir. Fish are known for eating dry flies around mid-day in this area.
As a tip, it’s recommended to park just off of Wadsworth Boulevard and enjoy a bike ride up the canyon. It’s a great way to start a winter fishing excursion close to Denver.
The north fork of the South Platte is called a pseudo tailwater and has been fishing great as of late. The water is pumped 26 miles through the mountains from Lake Dillon on the west slope, out of the Roberts Tunnel and converges with the North Fork of The South Platte River and Geneva Creek then on to Denver.
Most of the fly-fishing access along this stretch of river is private property. As long as the flows are good and the weather doesn’t get TOO cold for extended periods, the fly fishing remains very good here. Expect to see a lot of big trout, especially mid-day.
Winter fisheries range in location from larger rivers like the Roaring Fork, Lower Colorado, or the Arkansas River below the Pueblo Reservoir, to very small tailwater like Bear Creek below Evergreen Lake.
Other recommend winter fisheries include The Blue River in Silverthorne, The Williams Fork River, The Frying Pan, The Taylor River, and The Big Thompson below Lake Estes; just to name a few!