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Old 09-21-2015, 08:56 PM
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Default Exploring the Rockies

I decided to make one thread about my trips exploring the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. I am originally from New Orleans but moved to Colorado Springs in June 2015. It is a complete change in fishing and environment. I have never been out West so this is all brand new and quite an adventure for me.

Fishing has always been a passion for me since I was a kid and I spend a lot of days on the water every year. Back in New Orleans I mostly fished for catfish and garfish in large brackish rivers and I would fly fish for bass and panfish in smaller streams and ponds in the area. Since moving to Colorado I have been learning completely new skill sets chasing trout in the Rocky Mountains.

I am having a lot of fun and I thought some veteran trout anglers might enjoy seeing my progress and also people who dream of fishing here can see some fishing adventures. It really is an amazing place to fish. Within a couple hours drive I have access to famous "gold medal" waters,The Dream Stream, Eleven Mile park, the Arkansas River. Also there are numerous lakes and reservoirs in the area that produce trout that commonly exceed five pounds, and lots of back country lakes and streams to explore. And it's all new to me. I have no idea what I am doing but I am learning.

The first place I tried was the closest. A place right in the city called Quail Lake that was a twenty minutes from the hotel I stayed at when I first arrived.

Click the image to open in full size.

Even in the middle of the city this little lake is beautiful. The water was fairly clear and I was told that it's full of trout. I didn't catch anything but to my surprise I saw a couple of small largemouth bass, and an absolutely massive snapping turtle. There was a decent amount of people fishing but nobody I talked to had caught anything. I decided to move on to somewhere less accessible that I hoped would keep some fishing pressure off.

For my next trip I decided to stay close to my new home again. I am the sorta guy who will fish any time I get a chance so I was curious what waters were close enough for me to sneak away if I only have a few hours. I found a small public lake that wasn't very well known. Only a half hour outside Colorado Springs but about half a mile up a steep hiking trail. I am a young man and I didn't think I would struggle at all. WRONG!

Elevation is no joke. I was dehydrated in no time and huffing and puffing up that trail. I had to stop twice and catch my breath. The trail is a beautiful hike along a babbling creek that flows down from a steep boulder filled canyon. It is beautiful but parts of it are pretty steep for a guy from the swamps who isn't used to this elevation. Once as I leaned against a rock trying to catch my breath a woman about 65 passed me by and said hello. Then she took a longer look and with genuine concern in her voice told me to pace myself. She hadn't broken a sweat. Pretty embarrassing, but funny.

Click the image to open in full size.

I did eventually make it to that reservoir and it was beautiful. The water was clear and I could see small trout swimming over weed beds and sipping small bugs from the surface. My first time seeing trout in the wild and it really is amazing to watch rising trout. There is something hypnotizing about it.

I tied on a Parachute Adams because I was told it was a good searching pattern when you didn't know what the trout were feeding on. Within a few casts I caught my first trout on a fly rod. About a 7 inch Brook trout.

Click the image to open in full size.

No lunker, but I was thrilled. Within a half hour I caught about half a dozen more near identical brook trout on the Adams and a foam ant pattern I used back home to fish with for bream.
After enough smaller fish I wanted something larger. I had seen grasshoppers on the trail, so I tied on a Dave's hopper hoping a larger fly would attract larger fish. I climbed onto a boulder that extended into the lake and cast over a weed bed that I could see led into deeper water. A few moments later it was slammed hard by a larger fish. It fought hard and when I got it into the net I was surprised to see a trout I didn't recognize. About an eleven inch mystery trout.

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After the days success I tried one of my own creations. A foam moth fly pattern I have been tweaking. In a pretty cove I cast towards the end of a tree that had fallen in the water and was rewarded with an even bigger mystery trout. I found out later they are called Tiger trout and they are a brook trout and brown trout hybrid. They are very aggressive and are stocked to try to keep the Brook trout population in check. They have a lot of fight in them, and are fun to catch.

I had as good of a day as I could of hoped for at a little lake I found a half hour from my new home. So far, I am having a blast exploring Colorado.

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Last edited by ivory arrow; 06-02-2017 at 02:57 PM.
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Old 09-21-2015, 10:14 PM
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Default Re: Exploring the Rockies

Welcome to Colorado Ivory Arrow!!

You live in an area that has so much to offer when it comes to fishing. I'm glad you're having fun and learning as well. We learn every day when we are on the water. And when you think you have the answers......you know.

Seriously though, elevation is not to be taken lightly. Yes, you must pace yourself, then after awhile you'll want to race that nice lady to the lake. Drink water. You must keep hydrated! Seriously, get a Sawyer filtration water bottle, or one that you would prefer.

Keep having fun, keep learning, and above all, keep fishing.

Nice tigers by the way.
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Old 09-22-2015, 03:16 AM
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Default Re: Exploring the Rockies

I'm soooooo jealous of your tiger trout!
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Old 09-22-2015, 06:47 AM
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Default Re: Exploring the Rockies

Nice fish! I'm jealous of your fishing opportunities. I would love to be able to fish the streams in that area on a regular basis. I had no idea that brook trout could be considered "pests" and their population need to be controlled. I've yet to catch a brookie. In a couple of months, though, with luck, that might change.
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Old 09-22-2015, 08:42 AM
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Default Exploring the Rockies

Thanks guys. I hope you enjoy the thread. I am definitely learning a lot. For starters I was tying the double surgeons knot wrong which lost me a lot of nice fish. It would hold for little guys but slip on big ones. Well you live and learn.

I am actually getting ready to go out fishing in the mountains today. It's a little cloudy and windy though.

My little local honey hole produced tigers and Brook trout pretty reliably, but then in the beginning of August it had an algae bloom that turned the water green and made fishing useless. I am told the trout are fine and just in deeper water but from a fishing standpoint it is dead for now.

So I am fishing a few new spots. Some lakes off of Hwy 24 in the Woodland Park area of the state. The reservoirs off of Pikes Peak Highway. It takes me longer to get to, about an hour one way, but the fishing has been good. Some of these lakes are big, deep, and hold nice fish.


South Catamount.
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.
When I first went to them I was worried because there were a lot of cars in the lot and the parking lot is right next to the lake. To my surprise most of the people then sit and fish right by the parking lot, and a handful slowly wander down the bank fishing.

I hike a trail back for about a mile before I head to the bank fishing. Once I get that far back I rarely see anyone except kayakers. I literally have miles of shoreline to myself most days. There are a lot of deep coves with steep drop offs right by the bank. The water is crystal clear and even during the heat of the summer nice sized trout cruise the shoreline all day.

The sight fishing has been incredible and seeing 18 inch trout come up and slowly inspect flies has made me a paranoid fly tier. In rivers fish only have a few seconds to decide to hit something. In these mountain lakes with 4-6ft of visibility the fish sometimes slowly circle my fly for 30 seconds before they decide to take it. Sometimes they rush up and splash at it, refusing it at the last second. You really never know what they will do and it's heart pounding while you watch and wait for their decision.


My best trout fishing day so far has come from there. I caught 15 on a day everyone told me was slow, and I caught my two personal best trout that day too. 7 of the trout were about 12-13 inches and 5 of them were around 15 inches. The big ones have a little weight to them and really fight. I love the sound of those reel screaming runs.

My biggest cutbow. I saw him coming down the shoreline feeding. I cast a size 12 beetle in his path and he came charging at it... Then stopped. He studied it for a few seconds, circled it twice and then swam into deeper water below it. I thought he refused it. Then he came rushing from the depths and smashed it with a huge splashy rise. It was great to watch.

Click the image to open in full size.

My biggest rainbow of the day.

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Last edited by ivory arrow; 09-27-2016 at 12:36 PM.
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Old 09-22-2015, 08:50 AM
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Default Re: Exploring the Rockies

Quote:
Originally Posted by sndmn11 View Post
I'm soooooo jealous of your tiger trout!
Yeah, I have never caught a tiger trout. I'm jealous too!
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Old 09-22-2015, 09:00 AM
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Default Re: Exploring the Rockies

Ivory: Great report with some awesome photos and fish, thanks for sharing!
I'm envious also as I haven't landed a Tiger yet either, congrats!
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Old 09-22-2015, 09:23 AM
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Default Exploring the Rockies

Thanks guys. I am totally new to the area but I know a lot of people vacation here, so I figure my thread can help show people what they can expect to find. What really helped me was I found a Colorado Department of Wildlife fishing forecast and it listed almost all of the public fishing spots available in my area, and it gave a brief overview of what you could expect to catch there. It was a big help.

The tiger trout are great fun and since they are sterile they can't reproduce and contaminate any native gene pools. I really don't understand why they aren't stocked in more lakes for variety and sport fishing. Maybe they are expensive or difficult to breed.

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Old 09-22-2015, 10:51 AM
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Default Re: Exploring the Rockies

great little thread, sure does make me miss Colorado...

re: algae bloom and fishing deeper lakes.
Get yourself a belly boat, pontoon, or kayak, and get a sinking fly line. Start fishing deep with streamers, crayfish, scuds, and chironimids. Learning about chironimids will make lake fishing a lot more fun.

Spinney, Antero, Delaney Buttes, Gross res., should all be on your hit list!
For rivers, the Roaring Fork, Colorado, Frying Pan, Taylor, and Blue are all great. The South Platte has famous sections, but I'm sure you'll strike gold on the not so famous sections.

I'm still new here in North Carolina... and I'm having a tough time learning the fishing on the coast!
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Old 09-22-2015, 11:30 AM
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Default Re: Exploring the Rockies

Fantastic report, thanks for sharing it here!

B.E.F.
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