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Play hooky, go fishing in Garfield County

Spawning brown trout lure eager fall anglers in Garfield County

Adam O’Day casts his fly rod into the Roaring Fork River in Glenwood Springs.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

It doesn’t take sonar to discover the best honey hole.

Fall is a prime time for catching brown trout, and the Colorado and Roaring Fork river valleys are teeming with fishing spots. Sure, some can be found on more isolated and wild grounds along the Crystal River. Other spots, however, are just blocks away from the office.

On a chilly Nov. 4 morning, with a scrum of traffic zooming across a nearby bridge, Glenwood Springs Outdoors employee Adam O’Day dipped his waders into the Roaring Fork River at Veltus Park. Though water temperature hovered around 45 degrees, O’Day elegantly cast his fly rod in the hopes the bite would turn hot.



Veltus Park is an urban public area about a 10-minute walk from downtown Glenwood Springs, at the intersection of West Eighth Street and Midland Avenue.

“This time of year, the brown trout are spawning, so it just makes them a little more aggressive,” O’Day said. “The changing of the seasons is also a good time to get out there and get some fishing in before it gets too cold for most people to do so.”



O’Day, 30, grew up fishing and hunting in South Dakota. He moved to Colorado in 2016, and now spends his time working at Glenwood Springs Outdoors. He’s also a part-time fishing guide with Frying Pan Anglers.

Between September and into December, male brown trout light up their armor in the hopes of attracting female counterparts into mating. Once that happens, the eggs prompt a feeding frenzy among the river’s species.

Keeping this in mind, O’Day said he likes to use streamer or egg flies.

“The browns are laying their eggs, right? And then the rainbows, a lot of times, they’re eating their eggs,” he said. “So we’re throwing egg patterns and streamer patterns.”

Finding the perfect spot to enjoy fall fishing all starts with one thing: a map. A novice angler unaware of the surroundings must always find out which areas are private and which are public.

An angler fishes the Roaring Fork River in Glenwood Springs.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

O’Day said maps can be found at various fly shops throughout Garfield County. The best fishing spots are found along the Colorado, Roaring Fork and Crystal rivers, as well as Harvey and Rifle Gap reservoirs and Rifle and East Elk creeks.

“So first, you’re gonna have to know your spots, right? From there, depending on how experienced you are, you might not be able to wade in some of these spots if you’re not really good at walking in the water,” O’Day said. “So that’s another thing you’re gonna have to take into consideration. But once you figure out some spots, you’re just trying to get out there in some decent weather, throw some egg patterns and some streamers.”

The water isn’t as clear in fall compared to spring, when fish can see better. That means anglers can get away with using thicker line and tippet sizes.

“There’s a lot of factors that really go into that,” he said. “But if you’re trying to just go and fish offshore on the Colorado River, you can even go with spinning rods, too. You don’t have to just use fly gear.”

A fly rod sits on a tailgate near the Roaring Fork River in Glenwood Springs.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

While the browns are biting, there’s one more reason why it seems like more anglers intersperse their favorite spots. Due to the Glenwood Canyon mudslides pouring into Glenwood Canyon earlier this summer, sections of the Colorado River were voluntarily closed down.

“I’ve only been here for like five years, but they’ve never shut it down like that, and it’s never made the water look like that for so long,” O’Day said. “So a lot of these people that have fished Colorado for years are itching to go now, so they’re getting out there.

For fish limits and other regulations, people should review the 2021 Colorado Fishing Brochure, which is available online at the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website as well as at Colorado Parks and Wildlife offices, fishing shops and retail stores like Walmart, O’Day said. Novice anglers can also seek guides for the best fishing experience.

FIVE EXCUSES YOU CAN USE TO GO FISHING

1. There’s another bear on Midland Avenue

2. I left my wallet in Aspen

3. Glenwood Canyon ate my car

4. The ski runs are open. Fresh pow, buddy!

5. I’m too relaxed from visiting one of our hot pools

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@postindependent.com.


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