Exploring the Rockies

ivory arrow

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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.



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.



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.



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.



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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scotty macfly

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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.
 

jonbo

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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.
 

ivory arrow

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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.


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.



My biggest rainbow of the day.

 
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mcnerney

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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!
 

ivory arrow

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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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tbblom

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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!
 

Lsuhunter

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Great report, thanks for sharing.

I am also a Louisiana native that moved to Colorado a few years ago, about a hour north of you in Highlands Ranch. The whole fly fishing for trout thing has turned into my passion when time allows, which hasn't been much lately with a newborn. We will have to get together one day and try honing our skills. I will definitely be chasing the big Browns on the dream stream this fall when they move out of the reservoirs to spawn.
 

rockriver

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When fishing the mountain areas, remember that the weather can turn deadly in about 10 minutes. Always be prepared for the worse even in summer.
 

ivory arrow

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Wow, thanks for all the advice and compliments guys.

Lsu hunter congrats on the new baby! That must be very exciting. I'll bet you are busy, but one day hopefully we will both have some free time. It would be great to fish with you.
 
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ivory arrow

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Snuck out to the lake before work today. It is officially fall. The weather is still pretty warm but the leaves are turning, and there are only a few hoppers left on the trails up there. Terrestrial season is ending.

Fishing was quite slow. The weather was a bit off. Partly cloudy and threatening rain. I still managed to catch about 6 fish in five hours, and unfortunately the line snapped on several more because of an old spool of tippet. Plus several missed hook sets. Frustrating. That tippet is going in the garbage.

The good news is I caught a few nice trout today. Took me a while to figure out they wanted a Griffiths gnat. As luck would have it the tippet held for all of my biggest fish and snapped on smaller fish. Bizarre.

Here are some pics of the hike to the lake and the fish worth taking pictures of.

This is the hike


This is over your shoulder during the hike. I took this picture on a prettier day.



This was my best trout today. Pretty too. Probably my new personal best. He was maybe an inch shorter than another trout I caught today but he was thicker. More weight to him I think.





This was the other decent trout of the day. He was quite a fighter.

 
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dragon11

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Awesome pictures of the scenery and the fish. I've only been to Colorado twice, once in the winter and the other in the summer. Your pictures bring back memories. Thanks for taking the time to make the reports.
 

ivory arrow

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Hi guys. I fish quite a bit and I plan to update the thread often so stay tuned.

My update for now is about trout fishing in the city. The weather has not been great, and I have been busy, so I have only been able to hit the local spots. In the city.

With the exception of quail lake (the first lake posted in the thread) the other two spots are not worth taking pictures of. Prospect lake is a nondescript round lake in a city park and Pikeview reservoir is a small body of water in an industrial area next to a sewage treatment plant. The only sights worth seeing at either of these spots is of joggers in yoga pants.

But they are all within 30 min of my apartment so I fish them when I only have a few hours.

I have been going out in the mornings before work and practicing my casting and presentation. There are fish in these waters, and as many largemouth bass as trout to my surprise. These fish are wary because they see a lot of pressure. It has been good practice, though.

I won't put a bunch of pics of little stockers in here but for anyone interested this is an average fish for the 3 public lakes in Colorado Springs.



In Colorado you just never know where you will see wildlife though. Back in the summer one afternoon I was fishing the little lake by the water treatment plant and here comes two deer walking in from the parking lot out of the industrial area in the middle of the city. A street in the city with auto mechanics, fast food joints, etc. enters the highway a block down.

They both walked past me so close I could have poked them with my fly rod.

 
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jdwy

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We've got so many deer wondering around town that they've become pests. You don't know where they will pop out, alleys, dental offices, people's front and back yards, you name it.
 

gr8outdoorz

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You will have some awesome fishing opportunities around you! Just remember one thing...if you do not have a lot of backcountry experience, take someone with you that does! The backcountry is not forgiving.

Something as simple as a sprained ankle can spell disaster when you are 7 miles from help. ALWAYS carry water filter(s), fire starter, food, and severe weather gear. It can save your life.

Some of the best Colorado fishing I have experienced was 2 or more days hike from the trail head. Beautiful scenery, great fishing, and no one else around! Enjoy the opportunities around you and have fun!

Carlton
 
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