hold trout offer much fly fishing opportunity during the winter months. Tailwaters, or streams flowing from the bottom
discharges of dams, do provide some excellent opportunities. Next to the famous South Platte River, which has a series
of tailwaters very near the big city of Denver, the Blue River is the most popular wintertime fly fishing destination in the
state. It too, is in close proximity of the large population of Denver area residents.
The Blue, as it is known to most Colorado anglers, is unique in that it offers varies types of water, a freestone section
and two bottom discharge tailwaters, that provide flows of water that doesn't freeze over and stay warm enough to fish
even on the coldest days of Winter. The upper sections of the freestone stream that flows into Lake Dillon is a
relatively small stream that has had both private and public efforts to improve the fishery. Thanks to that, it has a good
population of trout ranging from small to average size trout with a few larger ones mixed in. Of course, the entire
freestone section becomes too cold to provide much fly fishing opportunity during the cold months of winter. It is the
tailwater section below Lake Dillon that becomes a very popular destination year-round but especially during the winter
Often the reason for its good popularity and population of large trout is solely contributed to Mysis shrimp that inhibit
Lake Dillon. Quite frankly, that is true but not to the extent local fly shops want anglers to believe. They do get through
the dam into the tailwater at times and the trout do feast on them but not to the extent many contend. On several
occasions using professional equipment at various time of the year, we have taken samples of the aquatic insects,
baitfish and crustaceans which include the mysis shrimp. Most often we came up without any of the little freshwater
Mysis Shrimp do exist in the tailwater at times, and we feel certain they are quickly eaten by the trout. We do think
using imitations of the Mysis shrimp, heavily pushed and sold by all the local mom and pop fly shops, is grossly over
rated. We offer imitations of them at Perfect Fly, and trout do eat them, but often pay no attention to them. Not only do
the Mysis shrimp provide a good source of food for the trout, many other foods do so as well. There are a lot of
baitfish, sculpin and stoneflies present in the tailwater, not to mention several species of mayflies and caddisflies.
Scoop up a handful of soil from the bottom and you will usually find a few hundred midges. In other words, the trout
grow fast and large due to a year-round, longer growing season due to the warmer water from the bottom of the lake
and an excellent supply of many different types of food.
The Dillon tailwater begins just below Interstate 70, directly behind outlet malls in the little town of Silverthorne. Often,
you get the feeling someone is watching you. That's because there often is someone watching and sometimes, a small
crowd. You usually have a few other anglers casting nearby watching you as well. If you enjoy solitude, we suggest you
choose another location. If you enjoy catching trout, unless your lucky enough to find the stretch of water behind the
shopping malls vacant of anglers, a rather rare thing during the winter months, you would be better off choosing a
location downstream. There are several public access points located below the town. The water temperature stays
warm a good distance downstream and but of course, varies with the air temperature and amount of water being
discharged. The water temperature just below the dam remain about constant throughout the winter months.
Both brown and rainbow trout exist in good populations below the dam all the way downstream to the Green Mountain
Reservoir. During the fall months of the year, Kokanee Salmon migrate upstream from the reservoir offering more fly
fishing opportunities. Below Green Mountain Reservoir on the Blue River There's a three,mile, long canyon that's open
to the public. The trail is a rough, tough hike for most anglers. We don't recommend fishing it alone. Remember too,
that it is a tailwater and discharges from the dam are subject to change. The canyon isn't a good place to be caught
with sudden rising water.
The section of the Blue River downstream of the canyon is privately owned. You shouldn't fish it unless you have
permission. There is some more public access near the town of Kremmling. The Blue River flows into the Colorado
near there and there is some public access near the confluence.
Perfect Fly provides a weekly undated fishing report for the Blue River on the Blue-river web pages. Fly
recommendations are based on the most plentiful and available foods at the time. That was determined from samples
of the aquatic insects and other foods taken at different times of the year, and current weather and water conditions,
not angler trial and error or guess work. You can read the Perfect Fly web pages by clicking this link.
Blue River, Colorado
n the winter months, parts of the state of Colorado can be among the coldest places in the United States. That may
sound stage or even untrue, but not if you consider the different elevations. It has some of the highest mountains
in the country and the temperature varies greatly with the elevation. Few true, freestone streams in the state that
Great Fly Fishing Destinations
November, 2016 Issue
Copyright 2016 James Marsh
James Marsh fishing Blue River, Colorado
Blue River, Colorado