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Fall Fly Fishing: Quick stream fishing tips from the YMCA of the Rockies

Contributed by Bill Almond, Director of Marketing & Sales

Fall is the best time of year to hit the waters of Northern Colorado. The water is clear. The creeks and rivers have slowed from their snowmelt runoff. The fish are colorful. The weather, the scenery, and the wildlife is often breathtaking.

Though I’ve been fishing this region for almost 30 years, I still learn something new each time I wet a line. But some aspects are constant:  fish “hold” in the places where they can get the most food with the least exertion of energy. For streams, that means they hang out in slow-moving water right next to fast water, where they can dart out to grab passing bugs then quickly retreat back to the slow water. They can also be found in smooth water just below bigger rocks.

Where to find fish in streams:

  • In the mornings, fish the heads of pools, along the edges of fast water.
  • Mid-day, start casting to shallower, flat water along the edges of pools, then work the flat water just above tumbling water at the lower end of pools.
  • Late afternoon to dusk, start at the tail end of the pool, working along the edges up to the head of the pool.

What to use:

  • Popular go-to dry flies this time of year – usually size 18 and smaller
    • Adams, both regular and Parachute
    • Olive Pale Morning Dun
    • Ants – any color, those with white “parachutes” are easier to spot on the water
    • Small grasshoppers in bright colors
  • Popular nymphs usually size 16 and smaller
    • Copper John
    • Pheasant tail
    • Blue Poison Tung (on bright, sunny days)
    • Sow bugs – size 20
  • Popular streamers/wet flies:
    • Olive, blue, or purple Wooly Buggers, size 14 or 16
    • Hornburg size 14 or 16

Other tips and tidbits:

  • When fishing nymphs, a small strike indicator 30 to 36 inches above your fly can be helpful
  • Wet hands before touching the fish
  • Handle the fish as little as possible
  • Use hemostats to grab and twist flies out of fish lips
  • Revive fish when releasing by gently holding them under water facing upstream until their gills start moving regularly.

But here’s the most important tip of all:  if the fish aren’t biting, enjoy the scenery!  Good luck to you and I wish you “tight lines”.

Bill Almond has worked for YMCA of the Rockies for over 10 years. He is an avid fly fisherman and often refers to fly fishing as his therapy. He has fished fly waters all  over the state.

About The Author

Originally from Virginia, Bill has been a resident of Estes Park since 1989. Most of his career has centered around national and state parks, both as a resource manager and hotel manager. When not fishing, Bill can often be found on his road and mountain bikes or exploring the trails and backwoods of northern Colorado.

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