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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I realize this is a Washington forum but I've turned to the members here when I've traveled in the past and got some great help so I'm going to the well again.

I'm headed to Denver this July and am in the planning stage of a backpacking trip. I fancy myself a fly fishing aficionado but being that I live and work in the NYC area, I rarely get opportunities to target wild fish in wild areas. This is a bit of a dream trip for me but I don't know much about fly fishing in CO so I'm hoping to get a lay of the land.

I'm going with 2 college buddies who are too dense to understand the awesomeness of flicking flies to mountain stream-bred trout so the trip will mostly be about backpacking and maybe bagging a few peaks. Finding a place where I could make them happy and get a few casts in without making it a hardcore fishing centric trip would be beyond ideal. I don't need to be spoon-fed info (although im not discouraging that), just pointed in the right direction.
 

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BigDog
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I lived in CO for a few years when I was first getting into fly fishing. There are trout everywhere in that state, or at least in the part west of the plains. If you are content to fish for smallish fish, anywhere in the mountains that there are streams or mountain lakes there will be fish.
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I'm from southern Colorado, so I know that area best. I would recommend you check out the Collegiate Peaks area - Buena Vista, Leadville.

RMNP is great, but the area I mention is much less touristy.
 

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Funemployed
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RMNP is awesome, but then so is most of Colorado. Like Saffman said, I'm partial to the San Juans as well. It's easy to find trout water. It's slightly harder to find public water. Have an awesome trip and make sure you acclimate to the altitude.
 

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The Zirkels and North Park.... high mountain fishing and the ability to dip into Wyoming to fish the N. Platte and other drainages via hiking trails. Runoff might be an issue since these areas see the most snow in Colorado and we are still getting snow. Far fewer people than most other mountain areas in Colorado since the highest peaks top out just over 12k. North Park Anglers in Walden is a pretty good shop too and used to sell Wyoming licenses if you wanted that option.
 

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1) Collegiate Peaks
2) San Jauns
3) Elk Mountains
4) Gore Range

RMNP is too crowded that time of year. Stay in Buena Vista or Salida before or after, catch the rodeo, drink beer with the locals and then head back to Denver. Bring a 3wt for the creeks and beaver dams, 5wt for the alpine lakes...hopefully they still aren't frozen at that point.
 

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Looks like you hit the jackpot Moose, plenty to choose from.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I really did. Seems like you really cant go wrong. I think I am going to aim for the Snowmass-Maroon Bells Wilderness in the Elks. There's a popular back country route called the 4 pass loop that my friends will enjoy while I could also do some fishing in the lakes and little creeks out there. I wish I could go further south but I'd have a mutiny on my hands if I drag them all the way across the state to fish.
 

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I went to graduate school in Boulder, Colorado and hiked, fished, backpacked all over. The west side of Rocky Mountain National Park has excellent hiking into lake basins with high quality fishing and camping. The Colorado River is nearby and has high quality fishing. North Park at the town of Walden, CO is home to great lake fishing and the upper North Platte river. The surrounding mountains have great hiking. This is all within a reasonable distance to Denver.

The Maroon Bells are heavily visited due to the iconic photos, but they are not really a fishing mecca.
 

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I grew up in Glenwood Springs. Good water around there. Roaring Fork, Frying Pan, Colorado (if you can ever catch it when it isn't muddy). If you'll be in Denver, head up to Vail. Hardly anyone around in the summer. Gore Creek and the Eagle River are both great. Gore is more challenging, with well-educated fish in a small, gin clear stream, but there are some dandy fish in there. Eagle is probably still an easier deal. If you don't find what you like there, go over the pass to Leadville. The Arkansas awaits on the other side, and that also gets you close to Independence Pass and Mt. Elbert (you mentioned peaks).

Another area you might check out would be Carbondale/Basalt. Crystal River can be great and is usually uncrowded. I recommend hiking Mt. Sopris. If you do, bring a fly rod and a couple run of the mill nymph patterns (Hare's ear kind of stuff). There's a lake above the timberline, a bit off the main trail, called Moon Lake. It looks desolate, but it has a decent number of big, delicious trout in it (you can see them cruising), and they aren't hard to trick.

My experience was as a young lad in the 80s; much has likely changed since then, but I imagine some of these are still good leads. Good travels!
 

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Have fun out here this summer Moose. Don't underestimate the possibility of AMS (altitude sickness). Going from sea level to 10,000 feet plus in a short time can produce some uncomfortable symptoms in some and ruin a good trip. Doesn't affect everyone but you don't know til you transition quickly. I've seen some pretty miserable folks out here that show up and immediately exert themselves in the high country. Ease into the mountains, educate yourself and be prepared. Lightning is a real threat above tree line in July as well. That being said summer is magic in the Rockies- Enjoy!
 

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Have fun out here this summer Moose. Don't underestimate the possibility of AMS (altitude sickness). Going from sea level to 10,000 feet plus in a short time can produce some uncomfortable symptoms in some and ruin a good trip. Doesn't affect everyone but you don't know til you transition quickly. I've seen some pretty miserable folks out here that show up and immediately exert themselves in the high country. Ease into the mountains, educate yourself and be prepared. Lightning is a real threat above tree line in July as well. That being said summer is magic in the Rockies- Enjoy!
Good points. Last time I visited Colorado, I got mild altitude sickness going over the pass between Leadville and Vail. Took me a few minutes to realize what it was. I acclimated by the next morning, but I would agree that it would be wise to wait a while before climbing any peaks.

The lightning thing is very real. I didn't realize it was a seasonal thing, but it makes perfect sense it would be. I recall very well a climb on Sopris where we got caught in an electric storm. Pretty scary stuff, and definitely worth avoiding (to the extent you can).
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
There are enough options in CO to make my head spin. It seems most likely that, wherever we go, I will be fishing high alpine lake and the little creeks that flow in and out of them. I take it these trout are not too picky.

What are a handful of patterns I should have handy?

I also plan on buying a cabelas stowaway travel rod. I'm leaning towards the 8'6'' 4wt. Should I go with the 9' 5wt or stick to the 4?

Thanks for all the suggestions and tips I am going through everything and doing my due diligence. You guys are great.
 
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