I've been perusing this site for a few weeks/months now off and on and have found it to be a wealth of information. Thanks for all of the contributions! By way of background, I moved to Denver about a year ago and bought a fly rod and reel in Oct 13 and didn't have a chance to get out before winter. So far this year I went out to bear creek at lair of bear park to get my first taste of fly fishing.
I grew up in Iowa fishing the trout streams of the Driftless region with a spinning rod and panther martin - a lot of fun, but out here is a totally different game and the fly rod throws in a completely new dimension.
Now for the questions! One difference out here with Iowa is that there is a ton of public lands that you can go to and each has a different name (wilderness area, national park, etc.) how does this work? Can you go off trail at these places or do you have to stick to the trails? Anything else that I should know about? Along the same lines, when looking at a map it seems like there are streams/lakes everywhere, is there anyway to know if those hold fish besides fishing them? Finally, when I'm putting together my fly box, are there a set of go to flies I should always be carrying?
Thanks for the help. Looking forward to contributing and following the threads. I've read through almost all of countr21's posts and have gone through almost every post on RMNP. I lean more towards the smallers streams and alpine lakes than I do the bigger rivers at this point. I think that's because a lot of the streams in Iowa are smaller and I don't have waders yet!
Mark: Welcome to the forum and the great sport of fly fishing! By off trail in the parks and wilderness areas, I assume you mean hiking, if so then yes. Parks and wilderness areas have restrictions on ATV's, bikes, motorcycles, etc. In the Wind River Wilderness area near where I live, they restrict travel to hikers and livestock (horses and mules), no bikes or ATV's are allowed, once you cross into the wilderness boundry, but bikes are allowed in the national forest leading up to the wilderness boundry, not sure what the rules are on ATV's as I have never owned one. Park rules will vary by park but in general they will be the same as a wilderness area in regards to travel restrictions with the exception of the designated roads inside the park. For example in RMNP you can ride bikes, motorcycles and cars up Trail Ridge Road, but I'm pretty sure (not positive) that you can't go off the designated roads with any kind of vehicle. Horses are restricted in some areas of parks and usually they will require certified weedless hay.......usually not worth the hassle to bring hay. Fishing rules also vary by park, for example, you need a Yellowstone NP fishing permit to fish in the park and they have various rules on when each water is open or closed to fishing. Teton NP follows the state of Wyoming fishing rules, so all you need there is a Wyoming fishing license. So I guess what I'm saying is to be sure to look up the regulations as far as travel restrictions and fishing for each park or wilderness area. Some of the Colorado members will have much better info on your area than I have, so hopefully they will chime in.
You might update your profile so it shows you are in the Denver area, that way there won't be any confusion when you are asking questions on fishing, otherwise you might get responses more appropriate for Iowa then Denver.
Get some waders . Winter should not stop you from fishing where you are at. You've got good cold weather fishing all around you but waders are a must .
I wet wade in CO in the spring through the fall, except for the high mountain lakes. Standing waste deep in that water chills me too much . But even the tail waters and high creeks aren't too cold, imho, as long as I can get out every now and then.
Find some fly shops. Up around Estes you've got Scott's, Kirk's, and Estes Anglers. All good shops. The are shops in Boulder, Lyons, Colorado Springs, and, I'm sure Denver. There are Orvis stores in Denver and Boulder. They'll help out.
The National Forest and National Parks are pretty good about marking trails and access but check out their websites for details, trailheads, rules, fire restrictions, and closures. I also have links to the national weather service's local weather for planning. The weather in the Rockies can change dramatically so I like to plan but be prepared.
The vast majority of trails have no restrictions about going off path with the exception of trails that cross private property or protected areas and those are usually marked. But check (website or call) before heading out if you are in doubt. if you have a GPS there are products available for CO that delineate various property ownership boundaries and if you plan on exploring areas that are not clear with respect to those boundaries, it's worth having.
Flies I always have in CO are:
Elk Hair Caddis
Damsel Nymphs of some kind (olive Buggers work too)
Can't go wrong with a mix of any of these. But also check with the above shops .
Location: White City (tad north of Medford) Oar-E-Gone
Re: Introduction - New Guy
Excellent info above! The only thing I could toss in is good maps and Google Earth. Want to fish an area open the map and tune in GE and follow along. Jot notes on the map, etc.
Regardless of the above the one thing (besides a small first aid kit) you will want is a compass! Amazing how fast you can get lost ...... I've been there! Where ever the hell that was ..... Took me close to three hours before I found a forest road and then the question was ... which way is my car? Close to a total Cluster FxxK.
Love!!! GPS units, 'God's Gift' to the out of doors.
Along the lines of a compass: check out something like the Bushnell Backtrack. It allows you to set markers, so you can set one at your car. Once you're good and lost, the backtracker will show you the direction of your marker along with how far away it is.
I think you can pick one up for about $50, so they are pretty affordable get lost insurance if you dont want to pony up for a full GPS unit.
Welcome to the forum. Getting waders as mentioned above is an excellent suggestion, and will greatly extend your season. A word of advice in winter wading..... Good socks. OK, that was 2 words of advice. Make sure when you buy wading boots that there is plenty of room for nice thick winter sports socks, and enough room to wiggle your toes. Good synthetic socks and long johns that wick away moisture will keep you comfortable. Tight lines !