Fly Fishing the Lower Colorado River
Glenwood Springs, Colorado is a great place to access the Lower Colorado River for a spring time fly fishing trip. The trout rich Roaring Fork River ends its journey by dumping into the Colorado River here in Glenwood Springs and was adding about 600 cubic feet per second of clear water, as of this writing. The Colorado River is hanging around 2,000 cfs after the Roaring Fork Rivers flow enters it. The water color is a shade green in color.
Most fly fisherman will drive by the Town of Glenwood Springs public boat launch in Two Rivers Park and head to fish the more heralded Frying Pan or Roaring Fork instead of the off color Colorado River. Think of the color green as “money” on the Lower Colorado River as it rarely clears and fishes well when the water is any shade of green.
Large trout inhabit the river below Glenwood Springs, Rainbows and Browns over a couple pounds are common place. Your average trout here runs about a pound and goes 14 to 16 inches in length.
Spring time fly fishing on the Lower Colorado River has been excellent and will continue this way until the high water comes. Heck who wouldn’t find the fishing less challenging during the spring in a river about to go from a flow of 2000 cfs to a flow of 20,000 cfs. Water temperatures are inching up daily (43 to 46) causing more bugs to hatch every day. Spring time has Glenwood Springs turning green already, at an elevation near 5,000 feet above sea level, spring arrives in April most years.
The Lower Colorado has open water all year but is challenged by muddy water for several months beginning in May and lasting till mid-July some seasons. Always good to have a backup plan when going to fish the Lower Colorado, like the Frying Pan or the Roaring Fork in case the water is muddy. You can always call our fly shop, Vail Valley Anglers, for a clarity report or to schedule a knowledgeable float guide.
Generally my preference is to float the Colorado River near Glenwood Springs for more consistent bug activity and clearer water conditions this time of season. You can access a ton of water wade fishing but most people prefer to float the large western river.
The float just upstream, down from Grizzly Creek is in Glenwood Canyon and fishes well but takes a bit longer to warm up to spring. Floating downstream you can catch trout all the way past Rifle, Colorado but hatches diminish as you head west from Glenwood Springs.
Midges are the most abundant bugs on the menu and serve as a staple in the spring. Blue Winged Olives are the preferred selection on the menu but are mostly around late morning to mid-afternoon. Fish often key on this hatch, to be successful use BWO emergers and impart action on your drifts.
March Brown mayfly’s hatch this time of year. Use a size 14 Para Wulff Adams for some smashing early season dry fly action.
Large Salmon fly and Giant Golden Stone nymphs are active. Use rubber leg imitations when water rises or discolors.
The mother’s day caddis hatch is ready to progress upstream when May hits and can be spectacular if the water cooperates and stays semi-clear.
Streamers that mimic Crayfish, small trout and leaches are extremely effective in the spring on the Colorado River. Use them if no hatches are present and hang on for some of the state’s largest trout.
Guide and Content Writer