The best month to explore the outdoors
September is hands-down my favorite month of the entire year to explore the outdoors. The leaves are beginning to change colors and within two to three weeks will be in peak fall foliage form. Mornings in September are often crisp, with pleasant temperatures midday. Dressing in layers is key to being comfortable in the mountains, especially during this month. I try to take advantage of every opportunity I can to go play outside.
My personal September to-do list has recently included archery deer hunting, grouse hunting and hiking into the headwaters of both the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork rivers for some late season fishing and camping.
Of the many things on my bucket list pertaining to fishing, I wanted to fish the headwaters of both the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork until they were literally too small to contain a viable fish population. Hiking along Independence Pass above the ghost town of Independence, I was curious at which point, if any, the fish population would turn from brook trout to cutthroat trout. The fishing is fun and easy up here with eager brook trout up to about 12 inches in length. There was never a need to fish nymphs or streamers as about any dry fly seemed to work and pulled fish up from the bottom whether they were rising with natural insects or without. I casted a small size 16 black flying ant in every little pocket of water deep enough to hold a fish as I quickly covered water and marched upstream. Fingerlings up to trout of about a foot in length swiped my offering continuously. At the suggestion of my fishing partner, I clipped off the ant and threaded on a grasshopper pattern in efforts to try and eliminate the tiny fish from eating my now much larger fly. At no point did we ever find the transition from brook trout to cutthroat trout as we arrived at Independence Lake.
On the suggestion of my girlfriend, while looking for a quiet place to go camping over Labor Day weekend, we decided to join her sister for a hike into Fryingpan Lakes above Nast. This moderate 4.5 mile hike at the base of Mount Oklahoma yields amazing views, wonderful fishing for cutthroat trout and spectacular wildlife viewing. The highlight of our trip for me was seeing a group of bighorn sheep browsing carelessly high in an alpine meadow. The fish were beautiful and well worth the hike with vibrant colors of reds, oranges and greens. They too were careless and ate most any well-presented fly.
This is the absolute perfect time of year to venture into the valley’s high country. It doesn’t matter if you’re out for a hike, leaf peeping, a fishing trip or just to go camping or hunting, September is simply the best. Get out there and enjoy it.
This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at (970) 927-4374 or taylorcreek.com.
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Glenwood’s Sunlight Mountain Resort opens full-time for the season Friday with all three of its lifts providing access to expanded terrain. Oh, and it’s supposed to snow!