If you've been thinking about trying fly fishing, don't wait until summer. The time is now.
The start of the year is one of the better times for beginners to get on the streams for great days of fly fishing. The waters are low, and it's easier to see the fish.
"It seems daunting, and an older-person sport," said Zach Lass, of Front Range Anglers. "It's really not, and it's truly fantastic."
For some, the final barrier is cost, but Lass says that's another common misperception.
"People think it's expensive to get going — wrong. We are here to help beginners get started."
To save yourself time and trouble on the learning curve, Lass recommends hiring a guide to get you going.
"Getting guided really goes a long way for the cash spent," Lass said. "You are not out there by yourself mucking around in the water, wasting time. It can save a new fishermen months of time figuring it all out and learning the knots — guides tie the knots, and in the end, it really is getting you fishing faster."
Whether you're hiring a guide or going it alone, check out these three spots to try. It's all here for you to get out on the water and show those trout whose boss.
And: Always make a call to the local fly shop to check the conditions, fly patterns being used and any other information. Even the most skilled fishermen make that call regularly.
Boulder/ South Boulder Creek
From mile marker 34 in Boulder Canyon, and follow Boulder Creek east to the meeting point of Boulder and South Boulder Creeks. These stretches of water — more than 60 miles worth, including all of South Boulder Creek by Eldorado Canyon — are known for getting beginners on trout. And it's right in your backyard. Hit it between classes or after work. Either way, it's a great place to learn.
The section running through downtown is chock full of trout piled on top of each other in the small pockets of water open in the ice. The deeper the pocket is, the better, just get that line down there for them to see.
South Boulder Creek, the tailwater out of the Gross Reservoir, is a great place to start a day-long trip. The smaller fish abundant in this stream make a buffet line for bigger fish, and bigger fish means bigger smiles.
Flies: For both bodies of water, the all-purpose Woolly Bugger in black, brown or olive color is an easy and effective choice.
Technique: "Stripping," which is casting at an 11 o'clock angle and quickly pulling in the line by short bursts to replicate a hurt minnow swimming upstream.
Big Thompson River
Starting in the headwaters of Forest Canyon at the Rocky Mountain National Park, the river runs eastward into Estes Park until it hits Olympus Dam. From there, the tailwater heading through Big Thompson Canyon is warmer because it flows from the bottom of the reservoir, which is good for fishing because the trout will be more active in warmer areas.
Deeper pools of water can be incredible winter holding areas for trout on the river — a concern since the fall flooding. The masses of fish still thriving are responding well to midges and nymphs.
Technique and flies: "Nymphing" and using a double rig with two flies at the end of your line is a great way to increase your chances of a hit. Don't false cast. Roll your line outward with a "pull the train whistle" motion as you cast to your 10 o'clock position.
Tip: Grab a strike indicator from your local fly shop. These are usually brightly colored and are highly visible on your line while nymphing.
South Fork of South Platte River
Start at the tailwaters below Cheeseman Dam. The Rainbow and Brown trout will bite all the way through winter as you head down stream into Cheeseman Canyon. This catch-and-release only water means there are more than enough trout to net for anyone visiting.
The clear water will make it easy to spot fish feeding on bugs from the surface of the water. Keep low along the edge of the stream help to keep fish from getting spooked by your presence.
Flies: On cloudy or grey winter days, the big rainbows in the water swallow up dry flies like the Blue Wing Olive (BWO) constantly during the afternoons.
Technique: "Spotting," or seeing the fish in the water is key to getting a dry fly in the right position for a slow drift.
Contact Gavin B. Griffin at firstname.lastname@example.org