Cache la Poudre River – near Fort Collins
Ideal Flows: Higher water the better for the Poudre through town.
Recommended Flies: 6mm Glow Roe Troutbead, 6mm Chartreuse Troutbead, Sands’ STD Beatis #20, Jujubaetis #18-20, Worms (Red, Pink, Rusty) #12-16, Prince Nymphs #12-16, Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail #14-18, BH Flashback Pheasant Tail #16-18
A lot of us at Minturn Anglers used to take time off school at CSU in the sprin (who really goes to class when it’s 80 degrees outside?) to get some fishing done on the Poudre. The Poudre fishes lights out when spring runoff starts pushing water through it.
When fishing the Poudre around Fort Collins, I usually start my day at the North Fork below Seamen Reservoir, which fishes very well through most of the year. Sometimes in Spring though, they can really let some water out of the dam and your better off skipping it as the main stem fishes better with high water.
The main fork of the Poudre, however, has really starting to come around the last few years and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the big fire of 2012 didn’t hurt it too bad. Time will tell.
The canyon will ice up in the winter but will become ice free even above Gateway (the North Fork) as soon as day time temps stabalize above freezing and the fishing becomes great about that time. In early spring, nymph rigs with eggs, caddis, and beatis are the ticket. Don’t worry too much about the bug, it’s more about finding the right holding water and the right depth/weight combination than it is about the flies in particular. Poudre River trout are hungry and a good drag free drift will produce some fish, as long as you can get it in front of their face. Water temps are still in the low 40s, but should continue to rise with this great weather we’ve been having. Look for the Poudre to really turn on once those first caddis adults start showing up in the canyon. It looks like it could be a bit earlier this year!
I generally finish my day up on the Poudre just outside of Fort Collins. There are a few sections that I won’t give away on the internet, but I’m sure most of you know where we like to go when the BWO’s start popping. From about 3:30-6pm, the weather will sometimes get a bit overcast and the BWOs start pouring out! I’ve had days standing in one of my favorite runs hoping to see some fish rise in the tail end of it, only to see fish eating below the surface, but moving 3-4 feet up and down in the water column to eat emergers! If I see this , I will take most of the weight off of my nymph rig and start fishing a small Barr’s Emerger BWO #18 and it was on. The fish seem to be all over the emerger stage of the BWO, and they weren’t afraid to move out of the run to eat it. Some of my sloppiest drifts even resulted in fish.
I generally manage to catch a few nice fish, but the biggest fish on the Poudre through town seem to come in the middle of April when the flows start to get higher. I guess you could call it “pre-runoff”, but when the flows begin to rise and the water gets a little tint, some of the biggest fish seem to be caught on the Poudre. Look for continued BWO hatches (especially on cloudy days), followed by caddis (and runoff). Some of the best fishing on the Poudre is when the water gets high as the fish just gorge themselves on big worm patterns.
If you haven’t fished the Poudre in Fort Collins, I urge you to do some exploring. I’ve caught trout, carp, and bass in the river through town and had plenty of fun exploring. If you like to fish the canyon, now is a great time to do so! The fishing on the Poudre will only get better from here as the water warms and the bugs start to hatch. Get out there!