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Eggers Colorado report

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Colorado Rocky Moutain High

A little over a week ago, the need to wander, see what's around the next bend, meet new folks, as well as the call of mountain trout streams, got the better of me, so Sue and I pointed the van west, and within 18 hours I found myself standing on top of a 12,000' mountain peak, looking down into the valleys and gorges that made up the birthplace and cradles for some of the most beautiful trout rivers and streams on the American continent.
For the next six days I would be getting my feet wet in the waters of the Frying Pan, the Roaring Fork, the Eagle, the Big Thompson, the Colorado, and the Cache La Poudre rivers.
I also spent time on some of the smaller streams such as Clear Creek and several others that I did not get the names of.
If you haven't figured it out by now, the area that I am referring to is the Colorado Rocky Mountains west of the city of Denver.
My first stop in Colorado was in the small canyon town of Idaho Springs. It was the Fourth of July and the town was crowded. My main reason for stopping was to obtain a fishing license. I found a great sporting goods store located in the middle of town named "Your Fishing Partner". The store is owned by Mark Leonard, an expert on all aspects of trout fishing in the area. Another reason for stopping at Idaho Springs, was the allure of Clear Creek, a fantastic white water stream running out of the mountains and right through town. Clear Creek is big enough for rafting, a very popular business in the Colorado mountains, but the creek is also host to an abundant population of trout, mostly Browns.
For any serious angler, the small full service shops like Marks "Your Fishing Partner", are always a must stop, not just to purchase tackle that is working in the area, but to gain information as to where fishing might be best suited for you and your group. After explaining my interests to him, Mark directed me to a spot upstream about two miles out of town, he stated "Clear Creek doesn't have a lot of big fish, but there are quite a few trout in the stream".
I followed the instructions given, but I have to say that one spot in this stream looked just as good as another, and they all looked incredible. After my first cast into the crystal clear 49 degree water, and for the next five days, I was to learn that the large Bow series spinners were more than just effective on these mountain manglers, I literally had trout jumping out of the water after them. My very first cast with a Gold/Silver Super Bow spinner was instantly pounced on by an energized eight inch Brown. I spent about two hours fishing and wading Clear Creek.
I caught and released 27 Browns, all but one were under 10", except one who's body was only about as big around as the handle of my spinning rod, it measured 15" in length, looked like a brown speckled snake.
Our main destination was still across the mountains, about a hundred miles west, the Frying Pan, Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers.
Now Interstate 70 can get you there in almost no time, but with all the fantastic scenery, and a more than inviting stream around every bend, we made the journey in a very leisurely seven hours. The way in witch the state of Colorado built I-70 through the very narrow, once impassable Glenwood canyon, with almost no harm to the Colorado river, or scenic environment, is nothing less than a superhuman feat of design and engineering. You have to see it, no amount of photos can do this one justice.
We watched the Fireworks display in Aspen, and spent the night along the Colorado River.
The next day I focused my attention on fishing one of my dream rivers, The Frying Pan. Before making the venture, I sought out a full service shop for information, I choose the Roaring Fork Outfitters, located in the city of Glenwood Springs. The store is owned by Dave York, Dave gave me great instructions on how to get into the Frying Pan, as well as some very useful tips on places to fish in order to get lots of fishing action as well as some great photos. I found that the Frying Pan was very heavily fished, in fact I would call it crowded, on an average of someone standing every 150 to 200 yards, but almost everyone seemed to be using the same technique and style, and no one was using spinners. The water was crystal clear with temps in the high forties to mid fifties. I started out throwing the same Gold/Silver spinner that I had been using the day before. After about 45 minutes and well into the hottest part of the afternoon, I was beginning to doubt almost everything, from my choice of spinners to the fame of the river itself. Since my entry into the water I had had only one follow, and it was small, and on top of that, out of all the folks flogging away with fly tackle, no one was getting anything except sunburn. I decided to start picking my shots better, instead of casting to the middle of the river and retrieving in, I started working the shoreline, casting tight against the bank, under hanging brush, and working my retrieve out. BINGO! Not just trout, but good fat large brawlers. I went on to catch and release 17 trout that afternoon, in sizes ranging from about 11" up to over 18". I caught and released three different species, Brown, Rainbow and Golden. The Rainbow measured a little over 15", the Golden about 13". All the trout were very heavy in comparison to their length, an 11 to 12" fish easily went over a pound, and more than one of the small trout I landed had round bodies, looking more like a Bass or Crappie rather than a trout. Late into the afternoon the sky rapidly became dark, as a storm cloud rolled over the canyon wall. A hatch developed and large trout began feeding on the surface, some less than the length of my pole away. I removed my spinner, and attached a small white #18 fly witch I had tied to about eight inches of leader material. Dangling this over the top of the nearer fish I was able to land two trout. That was so much fun that I decided to try a different technique that I had dreamed up. Using the same type of leader, I tied on a fly that consisted of just a hackle on a long shank hook, no body just a hackle and head with a bare hook protruding. The bare part of the hook I baited with a small piece of pink Bio-Bait, TA-DAA! The Bio-Fly! I am unsure whether my creation was an earth shaking break through or not, for the first trout that I dangled it in front of merely rose up to the top and unceremoniously gulped it down, than swam to the bottom. I fought him in, than the skies opened up into a down pour, the lightening started flying, and all surface activity was instantly over.
Fishing in a violent electrical storm is an act of complete insanity, but such a storm will go a long ways toward dispersing a crowd. Having the whole stream to myself, with rain falling, and lightening flashing, I donned my Frogg Toggs ultra-light rainsuit (they are great for using with waders), tied on a spinner, and proceeded to fish. In spite of the rain the trout action was good, but with every flash and crash, the adrenaline flowed and my heart almost jumped out of my chest. WOW! A new pastime! Extreme Fishing! A sport where in a blinding flash, any cast could be your last!
It was just after releasing a nice Brown, and while standing in shallow extremely fast flowing water, in mid cast I was driven to my knees by a brilliant flash and an explosion that made my ears ring for several minutes afterwards, my spinner was launched straight up into the sky and landed a short distance several feet behind me. I found myself on all fours, looking around to see which side of the pearly gates I was on. I darn near warmed my waders on that one!
The storm disappeared as fast as it had come, and with rubbery legs and shaky hands, I finished off the afternoon fishing in bright sunlight.
The next day I went back to Roaring Fork Outfitters, and thanked them for directing me to such great fishing. I now requested them to show me a spot where I might get into some real big trout, something around five pounds or larger. I was instructed to go back to the same area, and they showed me a photo of a trout over 18 pounds that had been caught and released there earlier. I went back up the Frying Pan river to where I had been the day before. It was much earlier in the day, and I was into a 15" brown on the third cast. I moved up into a deeper pool that had produced the biggest fish before, and right away a Brown over twenty inches in length, chased my spinner out of the depth, and pounced on it almost right at my feet. I landed and released the large fish, and proceeded to catch several more about the same size out of this pool.
When after a few casts the Gold/Silver Super Bow failed to generate any action, I switched to a Copper Big Bow spinner. I cast the big spinner into the pool and let it sink to the bottom, hoping to imitate a crayfish. After a moment I gave the line a short sharp jerk, to get the spinner spinning, then proceeded to reel very slowly in. I had only made a few turns of the crank before the rod was almost blasted out of my hands and my reels drag buzzed off several yards of Mr. Berkley's best. My rod was bowed almost to the water, and I knew that if this was a trout it was definitely the largest trout that I had ever had on. The fight was more weight, tug and shake, than splash and thrash, and when I finally brought the fish within view, I had to gasp! The fish looked like a brief case with spots! It was a large Brown, and hooked perfectly, although it took a few minutes I wasn't going to lose this fish. Unfortunately my photographer was way back by the van, playing with Chipmunks and reading romance novels. A lady angler from upstream did take a photo, but the splashing of the large fish and the handling of the camera must have gotten water on the lens, because the photos did not come out very well. Because of the girth and weight of the fish, it was difficult to get an accurate measurement. The corners of the tail were also badly rounded and the large trout was doing a lot of thrashing as well. From what I could get, the big Brown measured around 23"and was about 12" deep. An observing veteran angler from the area, told me that such a fish would weigh between six and eight pounds. For all of the fishes girth, when placed back into the water, it had no problem rocketing back into the depth of the pool.
It was hard to leave this part of the Frying Pan river, but I wanted to fish some of the other rivers as well, so after only a few hours of fishing here I headed out for the Roaring Fork.
I fished the Roaring Fork starting just down stream and up through the town of Basalt. At this point the Roaring Fork river is about three times wider than the Frying Pan, about a hundred yards, or the size of a freeway. The water is extremely swift and fairly deep. I found it more suitable for white water rafting than wade fishing. I found no place that I felt I could cross this river safely, so my method of fishing consisted of walking the bank, and casting in the small pools and breaks that formed along shore and behind boulders. I only caught Browns here the largest measuring around 12".
The next day I fished the Colorado River around the town of Glenwood. The Colorado here is much the same color as the streams and rivers of Minnesota and the states of the Midwest. It has about four feet of visibility with a golden green tint to it. Because of the color of the water and the large size of the river (easily the size and bigger than the Roaring Fork), I choose to use a Gold Big Bow spinner. In spite of it's size the Colorado River seemed to have many tamer stretches that created more fishable pools. I caught a lot of trout in this river, all browns, several of these measuring up to 17".
After a brief stretch on the Colorado, we traveled eastward, back across the mountains to the Rocky Mountain National Park.
The Rocky Mountain National Park has some of the most beautiful sights that I have seen since my trip into Alaska. It hosts large numbers of animals, the most common that I saw were Elk, Coyotes, and Chipmunks.


The real jewel of this park is the Trail Ridge Road. A two lane blacktop hi-way that will take you up to 12,180ft. above sea level . It will have you gasping at the sights and both you and your car gasping for oxygen as well. It's listed as the highest hi-way on the American continent. The Park is definitely high country, the lakes and streams are cold water, and fish are not real big, but it has a good supply of Brown, Brook and Cutthroat trout, and a special prize that is native to this area, the Greenback Cutthroat trout.
Too much to see here and not enough time to fish. A few hundred photos and a couple of dozen hours later, Susan and I were on the road again. This time to the final two Rivers that I wanted to visit before I tied the line up and put the rod away for the last time in Colorado.
We jumped out of the park and wound our way around to the town of Walden, Co. The town prides itself on being the best place in the state to see Moose. Stopping at the High Country Sports shop for information and a renewal of my fishing license, I met Jeff Paeglow, part owner of the fore mentioned business. From Jeff I learned that they not only had an abundance of trout streams in the area, but they also had lakes near by with Northern Pike, Tiger Musky, and Lake Trout. I could tell that he was in dire need of Big Bow spinners, and a Monster Bow wouldn't be out of place either. He traded me some information on a near by stream that yielded up a few nice Browns. We're gonna stay in touch, can hardly wait to hear how he makes out.
We took 14 out of Walden, and chased the Cache La Poudre river down into Ft. Collins. The Cache La Poudre is a smaller river, much like Cold Creek or the Frying Pan. I found the most dense population of trout located in it's upper portion. Even though the literature states otherwise, all I caught in this river were nice fat Browns. The upper portion of this river runs through National forest land so there is a lot of great camp sights located next to its banks. The lower portion widens out and slows down as it get close to Ft. Collins. The fishing pressure increases substantially in this area.
From there we went over to the city of Loveland and drove hi-way 34, following the Big Thompson River up to the town of Estes Park, and then back into The Rocky Mountain National Park. I only got to fish The Big Thompson river briefly, but I was able to land a few small Browns from those places that I did fish. This river seemed to be very heavily fished. Keep in mind that I was viewing this stream on a weekend, so that probably factors in somewhere.
We spent the last day in Colorado touring the National Park sight seeing and fishing for Brook Trout. In the short time spent there, I learned that Bow Series Spinners are almost more productive in the mountains than they are here in Minnesota, I learned a lot about how to fish white water streams, and that Chipmunks won't eat Bio-Bait.
For the most part I found that the rivers and streams of Colorado do not seem to have as many trout per square foot as the streams here in Minnesota, but there is a whole lot more square footage, and the fish are a much better color and quality size wise. So a person might not catch and release a hundred fish in a day, he might have to settle for fifty or sixty, but factor in the quality of fish and scenery, you'll find that there is no comparison.
As for costs, a five day out of state fishing license came to $28, Motels and the like averaged around $70, Gas was $2 to $2.30 per gallon, entry into the National Park was $15 for seven days and camping in the park was $20 per night, camping in the National Forest along hi-way 14 was $10 per night.
We found the Colorado mountains very comfortable, little humidity made even the hottest weather tolerable, and night temperature stayed around 70, making sleeping late an easy habit to get into. Mountain time is back another hour, so we could sleep until 9:00 and find out that it was still only 8:00, how cool is that!
But there were almost no biting insects or Mosquitoes so a person from here in Minnesota might get lonely not having that little high pitched buzz singing him to sleep at night. (we easily overcame the silence)
Sue and I really enjoyed this trip, and at only a little over a dozen hours away, we will be going back soon!

You can purchase the Super Bow and Big Bow spinners at bait and tackle stores like Anglers Nook in Lancaster WI., Bill's Sport Shop in Chippewa Falls WI., Faribault Bait and Tackle in Faribault MN., and WATERVILLE SPORTS in Waterville MN.
Magnum Sports in Chatfield MN., Root River Outfitters in Lanesboro MN. In the White Water area go to the Elba Valley Express. Also available at Curt's Bait and Tackle in Preston MN. In Iowa go to Ozzies Outdoors in Decorah, or Funcrest Sports in Iowa City.
And now available at "Your Fishing Partner" store in Idaho Springs, CO. , and the Roaring Fork Outfitters Inc. located in Glenwood Springs, CO.
You can also see and purchase these fine spinners online at catch-n.com. See them at
Uou will catch fish!
John Eggers
post by Catch'n
Dave Hoggard

Fishermen are catch-n on
Catch'n Tackle
For Bass, Walleye, Pike, Lakers, Trout, Panfish
Used by FishingMN Family

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Thanks for reminding me that I live in a pretty great place! I take it for granted too often


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