"Fly Fishing in Basalt, Colorado is Unbelievable!" Basalt by dlytle

Basalt Travel Guide: 1 reviews and 13 photos

Fly Fishing in Colorado - what an experience!

Wading through the shallows in search of that choice position for casting, you’re suddenly aware of how quiet the breeze floats over the tall grass, and only the occasional water splash of an unsuspecting trout interrupts the calm. As you lift your rod and prepare to send the long line soaring across the glistening water, you marvel at the beauty of this wilderness to which you’ve finally arrived. You can’t help but feel like a kid again as you dream of the thrilling experience of landing a large, fighting, leaping trout.

Some of the most exciting trout waters in the U.S. are found in Colorado. Whether joining a wade or float trip or scheduling a private water excursion, a Colorado fly fishing vacation is the perfect escape from hectic schedules, commitments and responsibilities of everyday life.

High mountain creeks, bubbling streams, lakes and reservoirs, and roaring rivers hold large numbers of spectacular fish and abundant hatches of Green Drake mayflies, salmon flies, Caddis and other stoneflies. Great populations of colorful Rainbows, huge Brownies and energetic Cutthroats (the Greenback subspecies was named Colorado’s official state fish in 1994) as well as a variety of other fish, fill Colorado’s beautiful waters.

The Cuttroat Trout is the only Colorado native of its species, a great reason the Greenback was chosen to be the state fish. The Greenback is also on both the state and federal threatened species list (so if you catch one, please throw it back!).

The Rainbow Trout has called Colorado its home since the 1880s, when it was introduced to Colorado waters. One of the more distinctive fish, a reddish stripe runs along its side amidst black spots.

The Brown Trout is native to Europe and Western Asia, and was brought to Colorado in 1890. To date, the record Brown caught here was in the late 1980s and weighed in at 30 lbs., 8 oz.

The Brook Trout, or “brookie”, as it is affectionately called, spawns in the fall, resulting in its ability to outbreed other species of fish. Arriving in Colorado in 1872, this colorful fish is native of Canada and the Eastern U.S.

Basalt Colorado

Basalt, Colorado is part of Colorado's Northwest Region and is centered at the heart of the Roaring Fork Valley near the confluence of the Roaring Fork and the Frying pan Rivers. Following the waters of the Frying Pan River to the east will bring you to Ruedi Reservoir, an area of diverse recreation opportunities. Basalt is surrounded by the public lands of the White River National Forest.

Any number of outdoor experiences are available in Basalt beginning with the spectacular trout fishing offered by the Frying Pan River and the Roaring Fork River. Other activities such as skiing, biking, white water rafting, golf, tennis and much more are all offered in and around the immediate area.

Whether taking in the activities, or just indulging in a weekend escape, I think that you will find Basalt a magical and romantic getaway

And, of course, the Roaring Fork and Frying Pan Rivers offer world-class fly and cast fishing waters.

Roaring Fork River

When you need an accessible, picturesque place to fish for trout — the 70 miles of the Roaring Fork River fits the bill nicely. Running through the heart of ski country in western Colorado, the Roaring Fork is one of the most underappreciated fly-fishing rivers in the United States (of course, that might be because of its proximity to the world-famous Frying Pan River). The Colorado Wildlife Commission has conferred its “Gold Medal” designation on one 12-mile stretch of Roaring Fork, placing it among the top 2 percent of river-fishing locations in the state.

In its upper reaches, the Roaring Fork is a pleasant mountain stream, with small brook trout in the headwater tributaries and a healthy population of rainbows and browns in the main stem. Although the fish are not as large here as in the lower river, it's hard to complain about a place where you can scramble from pool to pool and catch spunky 10- to 14-inch trout. Public access to the upper river is unlimited in the White River National Forest from the Difficult Creek Access on Highway 82 to the top of Independence Pass.

The middle river — from Aspen down to Carbondale — is the most popular stretch for wading anglers. Small enough to wade across in places but big enough to hold large trout in its rocky pockets and dark green pools, the river is a perfect match for the fly rod. The river is easily accessed from a number of points, and when it's fishing well, a few hundred yards of river can keep you occupied for several hours. Heaver line and larger flies are often used and I have found the fish here are generally spunkier than the trout found in the more popular Frying Pan River.

The Frying Pan River adds its volume and nutrients to the Roaring Fork at the town of Basalt. The Frying Pan River is well known as a tremendous tail-water fishery. The tail-water section of the Frying Pan averages from 40-80 wide for most of its length. Some areas may tighten up while other areas widen. Flowing from the dam at extreme depths, the Frying Pan River's water is super cold (in the 40's – low 50's) for most of its journey to Basalt. This cold flow protects the trout from warm summer temperatures and also provides the river with consistent hatches of mayflies, caddis and some stoneflies. Trout, especially rainbows, have been caught in the river over 10 pounds. These phenomenal weights are achieved mainly from feeding on mysis shrimp and also from the river's other hatches and available food. The mysis shrimp were originally placed in Ruedi Reservoir to benefit the trout in that fishery. Since, the shrimp have been flowing into the river from the dam providing the trout with a "healthy" diet.

From Basalt downstream along Two River Road to the Lower Bypass Bridge, there is excellent public access. There have been some incredible caddis hatches along this stretch and often guides take their charges off the world-famous Frying Pan to find better fishing on this section of the Fork. The wading here can be treacherous, and it's best not to attempt a river crossing except during low flows. If you are in the area for several days, be sure to book a day of wade-fishing on the Frying Pan.

The lower river — from the confluence of the Crystal River at Carbondale down to the meeting of the Colorado River at Glenwood Springs — is an expanse best suited for float fishing. Most of the guide trips in the valley occur here. Unlike the transparent waters of the upper reaches, the water here is a rich green, and the mossy river bottom harbors the most abundant insect life on the river. There are large trout here — browns up to 10 pounds have been taken. Green Drakes (a favored trout snack food) generally start on the lower river and move upstream as the season progresses. The Mother's Day Caddis hatch works the same way.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:If you are a fisherman don't miss this adventure!
  • Cons:A long way from Denver and the Frying Pan is often crowded.
  • In a nutshell:I cannot wait to go back!
  • Last visit to Basalt: May 2003
  • Intro Written May 5, 2003
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Comments (1)

  • Callavetta's Profile Photo
    Oct 18, 2004 at 12:21 PM

    I have to try this some day. Catching a fish is on the list of things to do before I die.


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