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Fall is the best time to fish for Colorado Brown Trout
Fall is the best time to fish for Colorado Brown Trout
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The Colorado Brown Trout Loop

Experience the fly fisherman's dream day trip! Fall in Colorado is the perfect time for fly fishing. You can visit these hot spots (just a short drive from Denver) all in one day to try your hand at catching the famous Colorado Brown Trout.

About Colorado Brown Trout

The brown trout (Salmo trutta) are an anadromous fish that naturally reproduce in rivers across the state Colorado. They are also one of the pinnacle species for fly fishing enthusiasts. Being an anadromous fish, browns have an instinct to ascend into rivers from the sea to spawn. In land locked states, this drive still exists and browns typically begin a migration from lakes or lower sections of a river to upper sections when the days begin to get shorter.

It is in the beginning of the fall months that this biological switch is triggered - the shortening daylight hours and decreasing water temperature are a signal to brown trout. In addition to reproduction urges that drive their runs into the upper reaches of waterways, they are also bulking up for the coming winter months. This means browns will often charge big dry flies, streamers, and the occasional mouse pattern.

When the browns begin to move in Colorado they get aggressive - it is one of the most beautiful and stimulating seasons to explore the different river systems that our state has to offer. You can fly fish and target browns on walk/wade trips or float trips via raft or hard boat.

Here are three options for fly fishing for brown trout in the fall in Colorado - all of which are a fairly easy drive from Denver with substantial public walk/wade access. You can pick one or try to knock out all three on a single or multi day road trip. 

Clear Creek

Approximately 66 miles in length, Clear Creek is a tributary of the South Platte River and can be reached from Denver in less than 40 minutes. Clear Creek flows through Clear Creek Canyon directly west of Golden, CO descending through a long gorge to emerge on the Colorado Eastern Plains where it joins the South Platte. Clear Creek begins near the continental divide near Loveland Pass, northwest of Grays Peak in western Clear Creek County. It descends eastward through Clear Creek Canyon past the towns of Silver Plume, Georgetown, and Idaho Springs - all which have abundant public access that is fairly well marked. Within the canyon that it shares with I-70, it receives numerous smaller tributary creeks that descend from the rugged mountains on either side. Brown trout are the predominant species in Clear Creek but don't be surprised if you hook rainbows, brook, and the occasional cutthroat trout as well. Fall fishing can be a great close fly fishing fix if you are short on time and visiting The Mile High City.

The Upper Colorado River

The Colorado River is an amazing place to experience all the beauty that Colorado has to offer - including great opportunities to target big brown trout in the fall. The river starts high in Rocky Mountain National Park and is Colorado's largest watershed drainage. From deep canyons to panoramic meadows and majestic peaks, the Colorado River is a great river to explore. The Upper Colorado River traverses from Windy Gap Reservoir, just west of the town of Granby, to the confluence of the Blue River near Kremmling. This section is Gold Metal water and closely follows Highway 40 - making it a fairly easy road trip. Major public access points include Hot Sulphur Springs, Buyers Canyon and the small town of Parshall.

In the fall, midges, baetis, egg patterns and scuds can all be effective - but if you are looking to trigger the wrath of a big brown, don't underestimate streamers and mouse patterns, especially at dusk.

The Blue River

The Blue River can be reached in roughly 75 minutes from Denver. The Blue runs north from the dam at Dillon Reservoir near Silverthorne to the Colorado River near Kremmling. Colorado Highway 9 follows the Blue for much of the 34 miles with many public access points. The Gold Metal water section runs from the dam in Silverthorne to the Town of Kremmling. The river acts like a typical tailwater through Silverthorne and more like a free stone river below town. As you drive from the Dillon Dam toward Green Mountain Reservoir, there are numerous turnouts and fishing access points along the road.

September through November is a unique season for the Blue River. During this time, brown trout push out of the Colorado River into the Lower Blue and from Green Mountain Reservoir into the Upper Blue. Fly anglers get a chance to target large and aggressive brown trout on the move. During this time the Blue River can offer a variety of amazing fishing situations - dries, nymphs and streamers can all be productive throughout the fall.

How To Knock Out The Colorado Brown Trout Loop

From downtown Denver take 6th Avenue West to the junction with I-70. Go west until you hit the small town of Idaho Springs. Clear Creek can be fished both up and downstream from Idaho Springs.

From here, get back on I-70 until you get to the Empire Exit. Take this exit toward the town of Empire and continue up and over Berthoud Pass. This CR 40 will take you through Winter Park and Granby. You'll first meet up with the Colorado River Near Windy Gap Reservoir. There are a number of public fishing access points between Windy Gap and the Town of Kremmling.

At Kremmling, head south on CR 9 which will follow the Blue River Valley toward the town of Silverthorne. The easiest access fly fishing is between Green Mountain Reservoir and Dillon Reservoir. In Silverthorne, you can access I-70 Eastbound for a 75 minute car ride back to Denver, completing the loop.

It is possible to drive the loop in a single day but a two to three day road trip is recommended to truly experience each unique fishery and the beauty surrounding it.

Do you want to learn more about fishing for brown trout in Colorado in the fall? Call 303-733-1434. If you are interested in a guided experience, Trouts Guide Service is happy to show you great fishing options on Clear Creek, The Blue River and The Upper Colorado. 

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