Did you know that fishermen and women in Colorado can enjoy fly fishing all four seasons of the year in either Denver area or Vail Valley? They are starting to share the secret. More and more anglers are learning about the joys and challenges of plying their sport right through the winter. Even a heavy snowfall that blocks roads can be an avid fisherman’s blessing because fewer anglers will make the trek to a favorite fishing spot.
While many of Colorado’s free flowing rivers and streams freeze over in the winter, the tailwaters of the numerous dam controlled rivers are ice-free all year. Stable water temperatures and a rich food supply ensure abundant large and trophy size fish in these waters. I often drop in to my local Minturn Anglers shop just to chat. Recently, one of their friendly fishing guides took the time to recommend a number of tailwaters:
- The Drying Pan River below the Ruedi Reservoir
- The South Platter River sections following the Cheesman, Spinney Mountain and Eleven Mile Reservoirs
- The Arkansas River leading out from Lake Pueblo
- The Blue River coming out from Lake Dillon
- The Taylor River below Taylor Park Reservoir
The Minturn Anglers guide advised me that trout are cold blooded so tend to slow down in colder weather. This means a few modifications to my fly fishing strategy, generally moving more slowly, knowing that trout will move out of faster currents into deeper calmer pools to save energy. Because winter trout are not as active, I was reminded that flies have to drift downstream in a completely natural appearance to coax less active trout to take the fly. Fish are not going to waste energy going after my fly, so I try to put the fly directly in their path. I use spit shot weight to get nymphs near the bottom of slower deep water where the trout are hiding out.