Advice for Colorado trip Sept/Oct

dave b

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A couple of friends and I from the UK are planning our first trip to the USA in the autumn.

Our plan is to fly into Denver and stay in or around Glenwood Springs renting a home for 9 days fly fishing, returning to Glenwood Springs on an evening to eat, drink and take the mickey out of each other in a friendly bar/restaurant following our daily exploits.

Ideally we'd like to park, hike, wade and fish rather than float the rivers in a boat which is how we fish in the UK. Our preferred methods will be fishing a mixture of dry fly and Euro nymphing with a bit of streamer fishing thrown in for good measure.

Ideally we'd like to stick to three or four rivers and have come up with the following short list but remain flexible depending on feedback.

1. Upper Colorado River - Avon to Gore Canyon
2. Eagle River - Wolcott
3. Roaring Fork River - Aspen
4. Frying Pan River - Basalt
5. Crystal River - Aspen
6. Blue River - Kremmling

My question is are there any rivers or sections that we should remove from our short list or that would be unsuitable for wading?

Are there any other rivers we should add as must fish venues to the list and if so which would you remove?

As you'll appreciate we haven't fished the USA and this is our first visit, therefore when we plan the trip we want to make sure we make the best of the opportunity and the fishing Colorado has to offer.

We are competent river anglers with a good range of experience between us, however any information or advice you can offer either on this thread or by pm would be very much appreciated. If a boat trip is a must do, please advise and we'll see what we can accommodate during our trip as we are open to suggestion.

ideally we'd like to catch a few browns, rainbows and cutthroats, however brook trout and whitefish would also be a bonus.

Regarding dates we are flexible between September and October therefore any advice such as it would be best to visit in early September, late September or early October, would be welcome.

I look forward to reading any advise you can offer.

Thanks Dave.
 

joe_strummer

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Hey Dave,

I'd do that in September, rather than October. Long way to come to roll the dice on weather. Otherwise, it's a solid plan. There's some floating to do in September, but that's the skinny water part of the season. You might want to float Gore Canyon and the lower Roaring. But generally things are at their most wadeable.

I say generally because there are some fall replacement-flow or augmenting releases that happen from places like Ruedi Reservoir, on the Pan, and so September streamflows can get pumped up in particular places, and even see the highest flows of the year. Early September on the Pan can be spectacular, as the Green Drakes pop late in the season there. But getting around can be tough when the release from Ruedi is 300 cfs. Here's a link for looking at streamflows on the Pan (and elsewhere): USGS Current Conditions for USGS 09080400 FRYINGPAN RIVER NEAR RUEDI, CO.

Crystal's a bit of a way from Aspen; it's confluence with the Roaring is at Carbondale, just above Glenwood. You come down from Aspen, then head up the Crystal. No matter; from Glenwood it's just a right at Carbondale for the Crystal or staying on 82 for the Roaring/Pan. There are plenty of whitefish there, as well as in the Roaring, and nice freestone fishing as you get upstream.

Your wild brookies and cutts are not really going to be in the hi-viz locations on your list. I'd suggest a high country day in the headwaters somewhere for those, drive way up the Pan or Roaring for instance.

Have fun.
 

mcnerney

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Dave

Your trip sounds awesome, you have definitely done some research. I've fished those rivers a few times, but I'm no expert, there are other members here that can provide more help.
I would add that you can buy your fishing license online or just stop at one of the great fly shops in that area. The one I like is Frying Pan Anglers in Basalt, CO check out their web site it is loaded with useful info.
Frying Pan Anglers for Aspen and Basalt fly fishing on the Frying Pan, Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers.

You might also look at fishing the Gunnison river. If you take hwy 133 south out of Carbondale, CO then take a right at Hotchkiss, CO onto hwy 92. Then look for the public access to the Gunnison river at Pleasure Park.
Stop at the fly shop for directions, but basically you will wade across the North Fork of the Gunnison, once across, you have about 4 miles of a hiking trial along the Gunnison river.

Oh, almost forgot, welcome to the forum and I hope you post up a trip report when you get back from your trip.
 

dave b

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Joe

Thank you very much. I hadn't considered compensation water. We sometimes get it on UK rivers and although the level doesn't come up much, it's cold water from the bottom of the reservoirs and tends to kill sport until the water has gone through.
 

scotty macfly

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There is one you need to add, and it's the White River west of Meeker. PM me and I'll give you more details on where to go on that river.
 

joe_strummer

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Joe

Thank you very much. I hadn't considered compensation water. We sometimes get it on UK rivers and although the level doesn't come up much, it's cold water from the bottom of the reservoirs and tends to kill sport until the water has gone through.
It won't throw the fish off in this case, just make reaching them and crossing the channel harder. There's no float option on the Pan and of course you are going to have to fish it if you're staying a week in Glenwood, so something to be aware of and check on. If the drakes are coming off, the fish will eat. I'm a middle river guy myself, Strawberry Rock to Old Faithful, and there's a certain short run in there, hardly a third of a mile, I sometimes spend all day on.

I like to stay at the Aspenalt in Basalt when I'm fishing the Roaring Fork Valley. Taylor Creek Cabins is a nice option in that area too. However, Glenwood is much more central to your other targets outside the RFV.

Most of the public access on the Blue (meaning the tailwater Blue, rather than headwaters above Breckenridge) is between Green Mountain Reservoir and Silverthorne. There'll be people here who spend more time on that water than I do.
 

benglish

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All good waters to fish. Not sure you dates but I can add that weekends (including Fridays) will be a nightmare of fisherman on the Eagle, Fryingpan, upper Blue and probably Roaring Fork as well. I would not plan on Floating the Fork on the weekends between commercial and privates it can be a real show. Colorado can be the same on weekends below pumphouse with rec. floaters (will still be warm enough in September). Also, the lower Blue below is just simply not as good as it used to be. There are precious few Hidden gems left in the Centennial state. However, if you are willing to drive a little and have a map lots of stuff as you near Wyoming. Good luck. (North! DO NOT go south from Glenwood Springs as that part of the states will still be annexed by Texas that time of year.). Good luck
 

cooutlaw

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Most of what I could offer would be a repeat of others responses. September is the time...October, especially the latter 3rd could show itself in ugly weather....especially if it follows the pattern of the last few years at those elevations. A Basin ski resort was open 10 1/2 of the 12 months of last year...granted that's not all natural snowfall and not near your chosen locations but it still saw 340"s + of snowfall which is relevant to similar altitudes. Early Sept will still see leftover tourism, but is likely to be a safe bet for productive fishing...potentially offering even late hopper action if the stars align.

These might also be of assistance for pre-planning:

Colorado Fishing Network: Hatch Charts

Hatch Charts

Colorado Hatch Chart - The Flyfisher Guide Service

Blog


It will also be important to have a VAST variety of clothing with you, think layering....Sept can be fickle and you could see 70+ degree days that could drop to 20 degrees or less in a matter of hours....70 and sunny can turn to rain, snow flurries, and low temps all in the same afternoon...routinely. Our standard saying is if you don't like the weather in Colorado, just wait 5 minutes, it will change.

Make sure you have lodging lined up...it's often difficult to find it with short notice. Glenwood Springs is a nice little town, you can also use the hot springs for a soak after a day on the river...it has a few decent restaurants and bars, I-70 is well patrolled especially during high volume seasons, as are many of the offset highways, watch your speed carefully, and further, absolutely do not risk driving with ANY alcohol consumption...even withing the town(s)...elect a designated driver or just partake after the day is done within walking distance of your lodging...the penalties are severe and the tolerance for any drivers stopped are about zero. More than a third of DUI arrests in Colorado are tourist/visitors. And, if it matters, marijuana being legal here for "private" recreational consumption also falls into vehicle and publicly impaired laws...same advice steep penalties. Lastly on the alcohol front, you WILL become intoxicated FAR quicker at altitude than you are accustomed to, many get elevation sickness as well - headache, nausea until acclimated, etc. Visitors think this is myth until they drink a few beers and wonder why they feel bombed on limited consumption. Moral: Don't ever have a drinking contest with a Colorado resident, especially at lower elevations.

That's all I've got for this public service announcement....have fun, enjoy the visit, and be safe.
 

Ard

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You Colorado guys may roll your eyes because I'm far away but............ Spent plenty of time in Denverand so have a thought. The drive from Denver to the Basalt / Snowmass area isn't exactly like popping up to the Pouder. If I was wanting to come down to fish those streams I'd be scratching out a place for a couple days way closer.
 

dave b

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Cooutlaw

Thank you for your post, sometimes it's the little things that are often over looked, that can make or break a holiday.

Layering won't be a problem and thank you for the tips on patrol cars as we rarely see them in the UK with the amount of speeding camera's we have over here, (static and mobile).

DUI won't be a problem and even though we are in our prime, (early/mid 50's), when it comes to drinking contests we have past our sell by dates, so no worries on that front :)

Drugs are limited to paracetamol and brufen for when we've over exerted ourselves on the river bank the day before, so with the exception of general aches and pains, I think we are safe :thumbsup:
 

dave b

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Ard

I believe it's a 3 hr drive to Glenwood Springs from Denver Airport.

Depending on the flight times and what time we arrive, we may stay over in Denver for the first night, with a view to fishing the Upper Colorado around Avon in the morning before driving to our accommodation in the early evening.

Alternatively if the flights arrive around lunch time, we may book accommodation around Avon for the first night and fish the river in the morning before driving onto Glenwood.
 

Ard

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I must have failed to read your opening post thoroughly Dave, apologies. I was thinking you were going to be staying near Denver then taking day trips. I've made that drive from D over to the Basalt area and that was back when the population was less thus fewer cars etc. It's been some time but I remember fishing those famous streams seeing only a couple other anglers. Most all of my posts regarding the American West and fishing date to between 1981 and 88 which makes most of it moot I'd imagine.
 

el jefe

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Ard

I believe it's a 3 hr drive to Glenwood Springs from Denver Airport.

Depending on the flight times and what time we arrive, we may stay over in Denver for the first night, with a view to fishing the Upper Colorado around Avon in the morning before driving to our accommodation in the early evening.

Alternatively if the flights arrive around lunch time, we may book accommodation around Avon for the first night and fish the river in the morning before driving onto Glenwood.
Be aware that the drive time from the Denver airport to Glenwood Springs can vary...by a lot. Don't be shocked if it takes up to 6 hours, depending on the day and time you drive, and the time of year. A lot of folks head to the mountains for the fall colors at that time, and can turn I-70 into a parking lot.
 

zjory

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Great advice already.
Dave, I grew up and learned to fish on the Fryingpan above Ruedi. I’d be happy to point you to some spots up there, and can point you to some spectacular spots if you’re up for hiking.
 

dave b

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Gents.

Thank you for the responses and advice so far, your help is very much appreciated and shows what a great forum this is.
 

kevind62

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First off, let me open by saying everything cooutlaw said is BS. Thank you. KIDDING!!! I saw that on "My Cousin Vinny" and have always wanted to say it. Sorry outlaw. :D

For lodging, you'll likely want to somewhat center your location to make travel times shorter to your fishing spots. Many of the places you want to fish have dining options if you don't want to cut fishing time short to get back to your point of lodging to eat. AirBnB might be an option for your lodging. I use it quite often. But, make sure you read all of the extra charges, amenities, and occupancy charges. Many listings have a flat rate for 1 - 3 people. Some allow up to 4 for a flat rate. The ones that don't, charge an extra fee per person. You can find with or without kitchenettes. I prefer the ones with. Mainly for breakfast. I like to cook myself to save time and get on the river early. The only drawback is location. The vast majority are not walking distance from city centers. They're not all located out in the wilderness but they're not going to be in the city local for the most part unless you want to pay a premium price. I've used this site both in the US and Europe.

Although weather can be an issue, the further you get in to the fall season the crowds lessen also as summer vacation season is ending and you enter the lull between the camping season and snow ski season. About 75% of the folks you'll be encountering are elk and deer hunters, 20% fly fishermen, and the rest leftover tourists.

Oh, and just a tip. When you get here remember, it's fall. If you say autumn that's a dead giveaway, they'll know you're a tourist right of the bat. Just saying. :D I have several friends from the UK. I get the on this all the time. ;)
 

dave b

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Gents thank you very much for your help. I have a couple of pm's to answer and I'm grateful for the information provided.

There may be a change of plan as one of my colleagues has dropped out but we are going ahead regardless with a slight change of plan. We are now looking at Avon as a base as we have found a condo at a good price. It may not be as centrally located as we wanted but we'll be right on the Eagle River and what looks to be a great area. I'll have more time to research it tomorrow but everything is looking very positive.
 

scotty macfly

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Gents thank you very much for your help. I have a couple of pm's to answer and I'm grateful for the information provided.

There may be a change of plan as one of my colleagues has dropped out but we are going ahead regardless with a slight change of plan.
So what your saying is, there's room for one more then? I CALL SHOTGUN!!!!
 
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