There is a certain feel about the change of seasons that inspires a heightened level of activity in all living things and this is no where more evident than on the fabled trout streams of Western Colorado. Our mountain weather is absolutely glorious and most of the traffic of the summer season has ended. The aspens, cottonwoods, and oaks of the high country have been cloaked in the spectacular hues of autumn and provide a breath-taking backdrop for some of the finest fishing of the year. Hatches continue until well into November providing some of the best dry fly fishing that we see and the browns and brookies don their spawning colors and become aggressive.
On the Frying Pan we often see the Green Drake hatch continuing well into September in the waters immediately below Ruedi Dam. It is primarily a mid-day emergence and these size 12 mayflies bring even the largest trout to the surface. There are large rust caddis in the evening and the fall hatches of BAETIS mayflies begin to become the insect of choice for the feeding trout. These size 18-20 insects are most prevalent on cloudy days and will last until close to Thanksgiving. Early fall is hopper season on the Roaring Fork and Colorado. Casting foam or deer hair patterns into bankside pockets can provide some of the most visual and exciting angling of the season. The fall is prime time for float fishing on the big rivers with these hopper patterns or throwing streamers into pockets along the bank. Browns act foolishly as they chase down Autumn Splendors or Wooly Buggers cast close to cover. The takes are showy and even the fish that just follow the fly to the side of the boat provide a great deal of excitement. Blue-Winged Olive hatches also occur and fish can be found rising selectively to these mayflies in the slower tailouts and slicks of both rivers. The smaller streams of the high country also fish well in the fall. They are low and clear and the majority of the fishing is sight fishing with dries. The cool and crisp mornings lead the way for delightful daytime temperatures and the scenery is unparalleled. The golds and burnt orange of the foliage rise to snow-capped peaks framed by the brilliant blue of a Colorado sky and there is not another person in sight. For many of us the fall season is one of the best reasons to call this corner of the Rockies our home.