I was wondering what are some good (specific) fishing locations for winter fly fishing in Colorado. I'm a university student at KU and I'm just looking to escape engineering school after this semester ends without having to spend too much money.
I really can't afford a guide and I really just want to figure things out on my own through personal research and spending all day on the water. There's a few lakes I already fish here in Kansas so I really want to fish off the banks of a river for trout. I'm also willing to camp and if not, then cheap lodging would be nice. I literally plan to spend all day on the river, so lodging doesn't have to be great.
Yeah.....I second Larry on winter camping. There are a handful of campgrounds around Denver (Golden Gate Canyon and Bear Lake State Parks come to mind) that stay open year round, but you'd be hard pressed to find agreeable camping west of the Front Range open during the winter. And I'm pretty soft when it comes to nighttime temps mid-winter. If you can handle sub-zero to low teens during the evenings, you're stronger than I'll ever be. Although if you had a small RV or truck camper, you could find places to crash I'm sure. And you might find some rustic cabin rentals that have good prices because of it being off season.
Most campgrounds are closed this time of year, and so are most of the forest access roads that lead to good free camping.
Your best bet may be a vehicle that you can sleep in. Station wagon, van, truck with topper etc.
You will want a high quality sleeping bag with a sub freezing temp rating, maybe even two bags or extra blankets for comfort. It can be a long lonely night alone in the car when it gets dark at 5! I used to camp in the car for skiing, but it gets old quick with temps in the teens and ice coating the inside of the windows.
As you drive west, the Blue River will be one of the first and easiest to access tailwaters you'd come across along I-70. You can fish right under the highway; except for the brake dust smell, it's actually a good hole. Mysis and midges at most of Colorado's tailwaters. If not mysis, then scuds are a good bet.
I've heard that the upper section of the Big-Thompson is still fishing ok after the flooding, but I cannot confirm that.
Edit: fished the Big T on thanksgiving at the tailwater. Flow was 25cfs, water color was off due to sediment being flushed from the res. Very slow fishing...
Frying Pan River below Ruedi reservoir is one of my favorites if I can get out for a long weekend. Not sure about camping, maybe sleep in the car at a walmart? You could probably find lodging for about $70/night in or around Glenwood Springs.
I have always enjoyed the Taylor and the Gunnison in the winter. The crowds at least the times that I have been up there haven't been near as bad as they are in the summer. The lodging in town wasn't expensive either.
There is something special about the area and those rivers that make it awesome to fish year round. Even in negative temps and blizzard like conditions.
Great information in here! I have roughly 3 weeks of classes to go and working a bit to earn some money for this trip. I seriously can't wait to finish this semester out and just fish everyday. I'm just longing to escape...
Luckily, I did a few years in the military before going back to college so I do have pretty nice winter gear.
If I ever make it out of here, I'll post some pictures of some of the places you mentioned if I ever get so lucky to catch anything haha!