Colorado offers a huge expanse of waters to choose from, it can be daunting deciding exactly where to go to hunt that trophy trout. One way to mitigate this struggle is to break the state into subsections, and the most proficient way of doing so is by breaking everything up into watersheds or river basins as they are also known. We will go over the three most popular basins in Colorado and include some of the stretches that make them so famous.
The first and largest basin on this list is located on the mighty Colorado River. The Colorado River Basin stretches from Granby as far south as Aspen, and then exits the state near Grand Junction. Not all of the Colorado holds trout, as somewhere between Grand Junction and Glenwood Springs the river loses its trout population. The most famous stretches are the Pumphouse (or Upper C stretch) and the Glenwood Canyon stretch, both of which offer massive trout in tantalizingly high quantities.
The next on the list is the South Platte River. It does not carry the same copious amounts of fish per mile as its predecessor; however, what it lacks in concentration it more than makes up for in a nearly inconceivable number of tailwater giants. This river will find itself on most anglers bucket list as it is known for low flow tailwaters and very technically challenging waters. Light tippets and small bugs are often what you will find need at the end of your fly line. This is due to the amount of angler pressure and pristine water conditions. The “Dream Stream” is the crown jewel of this system, and is located between two lakes where fish can grow up to two inches per month. The trout here are keen enough to tell the difference between what’s tied to your line and what a real midge looks like.
The last but definitely not least is the Arkansas River Basin. This river holds much of the same character between Buena Vista and Canon City, which is a good thing. The Arkansas looks much like the Madison of Montana with is shallow riffles and year round fishing conditions. This river is basically a giant riffle with deep plunge pools spotted throughout, a true fly fishing paradise.
The beautiful Colorado River basin is 1,450 miles long. Access in Colorado is most common in the northern region near Kremmling, Colorado.
The South Platte River Basin begins in the central region of Colorado at the continental divide and flows 450 miles north east.
The Arkansas River basin is a large tributary of the Mississippi River and can be accessed in Buena Vista, Colorado and flows for about 1,400 miles.
There are other River basins in Colorado that allow for great fly fishing such as the Rio Grand in the southern part of the state, and the Cache la Poudre in the northern part of the state.