Tips for navigating Colorado’s hot and dry weather when fishing for trout this summer

Mike Eckel tries his hand at trout fishing in Elk Lake, the first of several lakes that drain north along the Beaten Path, a 26-mile hiking trail that crosses through Montana’s Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. (Ben Yeomans, Associated Press)

As a member of the outdoor media, I am fortunate to live in Colorado.

This state is home to many of the most knowledgeable outdoor experts in North America, providing me with great resources for my articles and shows. In the fly fishing realm, none has been better than Kirk Deeter.

Deeter is the editor of Angling Trade Magazine, editor-at-large for Field & Stream Magazine and the editor of Trout Magazine, the national publication of Trout Unlimited. He co-authored “The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing” with our dear friend and mentor, the late Charlie Meyers, who was an outdoor writer for the Denver Post for decades.

Deeter joined me on my radio show to discuss the effects the hot, dry weather is having on stream fishing and to discuss some options. The low flows and unseasonable high air temperatures have water temperature in many of our state’s rivers much higher than normal. Even the upper reaches of the Colorado River are seeing water temperatures as high as 70 degrees. This can put tremendous strain on the fish, especially if they are experiencing angling pressure. Our first bit of advice is to fish early in the day while the water is still cool. Carry a thermometer. If the water gets above 65 degrees, look for other options to fish.

Deeter’s favorite option is to fish small, high altitude streams. If you get above 8,000 feet, the water temperature should not be an issue. These areas also provide some of the most enjoyable angling opportunities in Colorado.

If you’re willing to do some walking, all you need is a light fly rod and a handful of flies to experience what I feel is the essence of fly fishing for trout. Deeter added that in such a beautiful environment, a “trophy” is not measured by the size of the fish. Tailwaters can also be an option as the water flowing out of the base of most dams is cool.

You still need to be aware of flows and water temperatures even in tailwaters. An option — one that many fly anglers shy away from — is still waters. Colorado’s mountain lakes and reservoirs provide some of the best trout fishing in North America.

Many anglers who have honed their skills on the river struggle with the nuances of fish location and presentation without the current to guide them. The size and number of trout found in these waters make it well worth learning. We encourage you to get out fishing, but please be aware of the conditions and help protect this valuable resource.

Deeter spoke of his most recent book, “Trout Tips,” a follow up to “The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing.” The tips were gathered from Trout Unlimited members across the country and compiled in one publication with all the proceeds going to support Trout Unlimited.

The book contains something for every skill level from the beginning to the advanced angler. One of Deeter’s favorite tips: 90 percent of the trout are within three feet of the bank. The “wetter” you get the less chance you have of catching fish.

Deeter also wanted to remind listeners that Colorado author John Gierach, whose books include “Trout Bum” and “All Fishermen Are Liars,” is now featured in Trout Magazine. Gierach has long been one of my favorite writers, his books and columns are great reads.

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Originally posted at The Know Outdoors By Terry Wickstrom on Jul 3, 2018 .