The Upper Colorado, near Parshall, has arguably been one of the most volatile sections of water we cover given frequent and erratic swings in flow and runoff from feeder creeks. While there is ongoing construction at Windy Gap, it has had little to do with clarity impairments. Rather, fires from previous years have led silt to build up not only on land, but in the water itself and when it rains, the water is especially prone to swings in clarity. With this in mind, we strongly encourage you to have a contingency plan. In general, if flows have held steady or declined for at least three days in a row and there hasn’t been any rain in that same amount of time you can expect clarity to be good enough to fish. You’ll want to keep an eye on flows from the Williams Fork as well. While the water coming from the tailwater is generally clean, a bump in flow can easily stir up the thick layers of soft silt that had previously settled on the Colorado. At this point, nymphing with big and messy lead flies that are dark in profile and move a lot of water will do most of the heavy lifting. Pat’s Rubber Legs, Pine Squirrel Leeches and San Juan Worms are a few of our go-to’s right now. Trail any of the aforementioned patterns with one or more smaller searchers/attractors like a Flashback PT, Copper John, Brassie, Frenchie or Rainbow Warrior and hit the water along the banks where clarity is best. Hopper droppers and streamers are a great option as well. Again, hit the banks, in either case, and be sure to cover a lot of water.
Need flies for your trip? FlyCast has collaborated with our friends at Anglers All to package a dozen flies that are hot on the Colorado River Basin, right now - Click here for hand selected flies
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 Upper Colorado is a comparatively large freestone river that originates at the confluence of the Frasier River west of Granby and stretches to the confluence with Troublesome Creek west of Parshall. This picturesque stretch of river, which is lined with cottonwoods and willows, earned its Gold Medal status for its plethora of medium to large sized brown and rainbow trout.
Fishing on this smooth and meandering section of the Colorado is great for anglers of all skill sets and can be fished most of the year. Feature wise, this section provides everything from shallow riffles and slow runs to deep pools. Nymphing and streamer fishing are both effective, but it is most known for its summer dry fly fishing. During this time, there is an abundance of PMD, Caddis and Stoneflies. However, the Salmon fly hatch is arguably what entices anglers the most.
There are a number of great public access points. The following access points reference Granby as the starting point.
#1: Roughly 4 miles northwest of Granby on US Hwy 40 is a roadside pull off on the left side of the road with access on either side of the river.
#2: 11 miles west on US Hwy 40 to the Town of Hot Sulphur Springs Pioneer Park. From Hwy 40, turn right on CO Rd 20 then left over the bridge. There is a camping a picnic area that provides over a mile of public water on either side of the river.
#3: 13.1 miles west on Hwy 40 into Byers Canyon there is a parking area on the right hand side of the road and a short trail to the water.
#4: 13.3 miles west on Hwy 40 to the Hot Sulphur Springs State Wildlife Area/Joe Gerrans Area. From Hwy 40 take a left at the east end of the bridge onto CO Rd 50. There is roughly 2,300 acres of water on either side of the river.
#5: 13.4 miles west on Hwy 40 to Hot Sulphur Springs State Wildlife Area/Paul Gilbert Day Area. From Hwy 40 turn left on CO Rd 362. On the right side of the bridge you will find the day use area and a short (1/4 mile) section of public water.
#6: 13.6 miles west on Hwy 40 to Hot Sulphur Springs State Wildlife Area/Lone Buck. From Hwy 40 take a left at the sign for Lone Buck to find camping and a day use area with 2,300 acres of water on either side of the river.
#7: 15. 5 miles west on Hwy 40 to Kemp/Breeze State Wildlife Area. From Hwy 40 take a left on CO Rd 3. The parking lot is 0.7 miles on CO Rd 3 on the right. From there you can take a trail to the Confluence of the Colorado and Williams Fork.