Middle Colorado River
Rob Herrmann Photography

Colorado River - Middle

Difficulty Intermediate
Ideal Days To Fish 12/2 through 12/5

Weekly Report

Report DateDec. 1, 2022

Flows on the Middle Colorado, between Pumphouse and Dotsero, have held steady in recent days. However, we are seeing some sizable intraday swings which can largely be explained by ice at the gauging station and slush in the late mornings rather than a material change in flow. Ice continues to build along the banks, especially in areas with limited sun exposure and there are becoming increasingly fewer locations to fish. Fish the warmest hours of the day and seek out sunny sections for the best results. Regardless, keep in mind that finding open water will be a challenge. Water clarity is high and trout are sluggish and selective, especially in the early hours of the day. As such, walk with purpose when moving about the water and keep a low profile so as to avoid casting a shadow on the water in which you are planning to fish. Give the water some time to warm up as the afternoons have been and should continue to be moderately productive and you'll want to give it some time for the slush to clear as well. While hatch activity has been fairly consistent with sporadic midges appearing throughout the day, surface action has been limited to the warmer hours. Sunday (12/4) will provide your best chances at surface action, but if you see trout actively rising don’t hesitate to rig up some dries. Nymphing with moderate sized searchers and attractors at the lead followed by one or more smaller and imitative midge larva or pupa has produced the most consistent results. Otherwise, double midge rigs will be effective. Start by targeting the deep and slow water while ensuring plenty of weight and on mild afternoons target the transitions and slow runs with an emerger. Either way, you’re going to want to focus on the deepest water column as this is where trout will favor. Be persistent and do your best to hit them on the nose before moving on.

Recommended Flies

River Flow

Flow Region
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Detailed River Info

Background

The Colorado River, which flows through seven US states and two Mexican states originates in Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park. There are three sections of river as it pertains to the state of Colorado, the Upper, Middle and Lower. The middle section begins in Gore Canyon near Kremmling and flows southwest to the town of Dotsero, six miles west of Gypsum off of I-70. On this picturesque stretch of river you'll find numerous Brown and Rainbow Trout as well as Rocky Mountain White Fish (or Whities). While this freestone river does experience its share of crowds especially near the Pumphouse access point and through Gore Canyon, solitude is just a float away. 

Angling

The Middle Colorado is great for anglers of all skill sets and preferences. While wading is certainly a option through Gore Canyon down to Needle Eye, you will be restricted to the banks for the most part. The stretch between Gore Canyon and Rancho Del Rio is generally the most busy as it offers a number of camping and entertainment options. That being said, it holds sizable trout and is a great float. If you're fortunate enough to float, we high recommend it. Fishing via raft is one our favorite ways to go as you can cover a lot of ground in a short period of time and access water only accessible by boat. We like to pull the boat out from time to time and fish that low pressure water or to enjoy a beverage. After Gore Canyon and depending on flows, you're looking a very manageable and fishing friendly float. For the most part you'll be dealing with class II water with the occasional class III rapid. This is a great river to learn how to row as there are minimal consequences and the water is generally forgiving. However, if you've never been behind the oars, we recommend learning from an experienced rower. 

River Access

There are a number of access points along the middle Colorado. Arguably, the most popular is at Pumphouse. Traveling from Denver, take I-70 West to Silverthorne then head north on Highway 9. Take CO-9 N roughly 35 miles to County Road 1(Trough Road), just before you reach Kremmling. From there you will take County Road 1 for 15 miles until you've reached the Pumphouse access road. If you plan on starting below Rancho Del Rio, we recommend passing Silverthorne and taking I-70 until you've reached the town of Wolcott just past the town of Edwards. From there you will take Colorado State Highway 131 until you reach the water. 

Float Options:

  • Pumphouse to Radium - 4 miles
  • Radium to Rancho Del Rio - 5 miles 
  • Rancho Del Rio to State Bridge - 4 miles 
  • State Bridge to Two Bridges - 6 miles 
  • Two Bridges to Catamount Bridge -  8 miles 
  • Catamount Bridge to Burns - 5 miles 
  • Bruns to Pinball - 4 miles 
  • Pinball to Cottonwood - 14 miles 
  • Cottonwood to Dotsero - 6 miles