The leaves are changing, the elk are bugling, and the browns are beginning their annual spawn. Now is the time to get out and catch big browns moving up from deep holes in big rivers and lakes into shallower water and tributary streams. Big fish that are very difficult to reach in our larger rivers (Colorado, Eagle, Roaring Fork, Arkansas, etc.) throughout most of the year become much more accessible to target with a fly. You will also find browns moving out of our reservoirs (Antero, Spinney, Eleven Mile, Green Mountain, Lake Dillon) into their small tributary streams. This is one of the most exciting times of year for many Colorado fisherman, wherein big browns can be caught in skinny water!
For us fly fisherman, there are some rules of etiquette for fishing this time of year: (1) Do not target fish on Redds (the trout spawning bed) (2) Do not walk on/through Redds (see left).
Redds can be identified by a rounded indentation of clean, bright rocks in the riverbed that are formed by trout beating the rocks to remove dirt and other debris for their spawning area. Redds are commonly found at the tail end of riffles in shallower water.
As long as you are abiding by the basic etiquette, you can fish with your normal tactics and do well fishing the regular holding areas. This time of year, big browns are ready to attack streamers or a well drifted dry fly or nymph. This is also a great time to target other species such as rainbows which feed on the eggs of Browns drifting downriver. The spawn typically starts now and lasts through November, and in general occurs earlier on the smaller streams and later on big rivers.
Kokanee Salmon also spawn in the fall in some of our local streams and rivers. Kokanee Salmon are the non-anadromous (freshwater) form of the Sockeye Salmon.
Kokanee were introduced in some of our local rivers and lakes, including the Blue/Lake Dillon & Green Mountain Reservoir, the South Platte/Eleven Mile Reservoir and a few others around the state. Kokanee live in the lakes until they spawn each year. This spawn usually begins in late October and lasts until early December. Brighter nymph patterns such as eggs and worms are the most productive way to fool the Kokanee.
Fall is our best chance to get out and enjoy the fewer crowds and bigger fish. Currently, our South Park rivers are low and clear, but the fishing can be good using long leaders, stealth and the proper flies. The larger rivers including the Blue, Colorado, Eagle and Arkansas have lower flows as well, making the water easier to wade and to read. With the cooler nights and water temperatures, streamer fishing will also become more productive in the coming weeks. We will continue to see Tricos for a little while longer and Baetis (blue winged olives) further into the fall, especially on cloudy days. We hope that you are able to get out and enjoy all that fall fishing has to offer!
Tight lines – Jackson Streit