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FLY FISHING THE BLUE RIVER
The Blue River is one of the most beautiful Colorado Fly Fishing spots. Beginning on the upper reaches of Hoosier Pass, the Blue River flows north through Breckenridge and Silverthorne on its way to its confluence with the Colorado River. During its trek north, the Blue fills two reservoirs and features many different fishing environments.
Fly Fishing the Upper Blue
The first section of Blue River fly fishing is located near Breckenridge. The Upper Blue, locally called the "Stair Steps," is located just north of the town’s rec center. The town improved this Colorado fly fishing stretch with a series of drop pools to hold trout during low water conditions and to offer an easy access fishery for visitors. This major restoration project was completed in the 1990’s to mitigate the damage of decades of mining. A bike path parallels this stretch, so walk-and-wade anglers can find easy access. The warm water temps of summer produce a smorgasbord variety of hatches. On any given summer day a variety of fly tackle can be used, anglers can see fish rising to midges, stones, caddis, hoppers, terrestrials, and all types of mayflies. North of Breckenridge, the Blue fills Lake Dillon. Blue River fly fishing in the inlet can be extremely productive. Monster trout move into the river during the spawning runs of the spring and fall. Fishing reports show that anglers can fish the river proper or wade the banks of the lake to stalk fish cruising the expansive flat near the mouth of the river.
Fly Fishing The Tail Water
The most famed Colorado fly fishing stretch of the Blue is the tail water below Lake Dillon. This section, flowing through Silverthorne and directly behind our shop, is designated Gold Medal by the state. The fish of a lifetime may be holding below the dam. Trout over 24-inches are frequently seen, but rarely landed. This is one of three tail waters in the state that has mysis shrimp (Frying Pan and Taylor Rivers). Mysis shrimp tumble through the river from the dam offering Blue River trout an easy meal. Mysis shrimp are the key ingredient to growing massive trout, and imitation flies should be a top choice for a Blue River angler. Besides mysis shrimp, tiny midge imitations are great standbys. With the Blue River running by our shop we are perfectly positioned to complie detailed fishing reports and recommend the precise fly tackle needed for great blue River fly fishing.
A Fickle Fishery
A few times a year, the Blue River sheds her fickle attitude and graces anglers with exceptional Colorado dry fly fishing. The Blue Wing Olive hatch during dreary April and May afternoons and again in early September can be unforgettable. Blue River fly fishing hits its peak towards the middle of summer, the trophy trout shed their weary manner and turn their attention to the surface as the Green Drakes arrive. When the Drakes pop, the Blue River is the place to be. Fish seem to come out of their secret lairs to feed greedily on the largest mayfly species we see in Colorado.
Not to be Ignored During High Flows
Because Lake Dillon provides a large percentage of water to the Front Range, the Blue receives ugly-step-sister treatment with low flows. Most anglers are comfortable with the low flows, so when the river actually rises to reasonable flows (200 to 1200 CFS) we are flooded (no pun intended) with calls complaining about the river. Truth be told, the river fishes best at these levels! The major problem we see with the average angler Blue River fly fishing is that they are standing where they should be fishing. The trout don’t like to hold in the raging currents any more than you do, so they move to softer pockets towards the banks. At high flows, anglers rarely need to wade deeper than shin-deep. If you are any deeper, you are most likely standing where the fish were holding. Our fishing reports on Colorado fly fishing conditions will tell you the peak times to fish so make sure you check them reguarly to find the best Blue River fly fishing.
Since the Blue River in Silverthorne is a tailwater, the flow is always clear and cold. This is a blessing during the winter fly fishing season because the river will not freeze over, but during the summer the fishery suffers slightly due to the frigid water temps. Occasionally with Blue River fly fishing, we are blessed with fill-and-spill which filters warm water through the system. The warm water increases both insect and trout activity, which leads to improved fishing for anglers. Fill-and-Spill is reached when Lake Dillon fills. The lake has a safety drain, similar to a sink, that prevents over fill. Once the lake completely fills, the warmer, surface water on the lake spills down a drain to supplement the freezing water pouring out of the bottom of the lake. Fill-and-Spill is what we wait for all year, so when it finally occurs you should head to the Blue to experience some great Colorado fly fishing!
The tailwater section of the Blue River is technical fly fishing at its finest. Stealthy presentations and perfect drifts are a necessity to fool these highly pressured fish. Small flies (size-20) and small tippets (6X) are fly tackle musts. The banks of this Gold Medal river are lined with factory outlet stores which can result in hordes of crowds. Due to the angling pressure, stealth is key. Micro flies and small tippets are a must. All of the water inside the Silverthorne city limits is public. This section is catch-and-release only and requires anglers to use flies and lures exclusively. Check our fishing reports for updated info on Blue River fly fishing conditions and real time flows for Colorado fly fishing.
North of Silverthorne
As the river flows north, Blue River fly fishing jumps between public and private access. The river transforms into a traditional free stone style river. Highway 9 parallels the river and offers numerous public pullouts for Blue river fly fishing, including the Eagles Nest, Sutton Unit, and Blue River Campground accesses. This can be a very fickle stretch of river with one day offering banner fishing and the next seemingly being a Colorado fly fishing ghost town. The Blue continues north and fills Green Mountain Reservoir. The inlet can have fantastic hatches because the frigid tail water temperatures are given time to warm. The inlet is a popular choice for targeting the Kokanee salmon when they begin their annual run up the Blue.
Below Green Mountain Reservoir
Blue River fly fishing access below Green Mountain Reservoir is very limited because a majority is privately owned. Blue River fly fishing is public below the dam; however, the access is only open during marked time periods. This tail water can be spectacular; however, low, summer flows can lead to the river being overgrown with moss and almost unfishable. When the flows are sufficient, this stretch of river can be floated in a raft. The float is very technical and combined with long stretches of private water this section of river should only be tackled by seasoned oarsmen. There is no commercial guiding for Blue River fly fishing below Green Mountain Reservoir (wade or float), so only private trips are allowed on this stretch.