Southern Colorado Fly Fishing Tour

Colorado – soooo lovely in the Fall!

Driving 3 ½ hours through the colorful Colorado mountains we find the aspen color is pretty much finished, but cottonwoods are still in their full golden full glory in the creek bottoms.
The beautiful Arkansas River

On the beautiful Arkansas River, the overnight temperature dropped down to 31 degrees F last night, and all the local tent campers, snuggling in their sleeping bags, didn’t get up until the sun warmed their tents at 9am.

After a nice breakfast of zucchini-spinach-cheese omelet, we got on the river at 10:30 after the water warmed and the fish were actively feeding.  Fly fishing, I got two strikes on a small emerging midge nymph dropper, finally, I caught a 13″ brown trout, we called it a morning, left  for Crested Butte, Colorado.

Crested Butte is a really cute Colorado mountain ski town at 9,000 ft elevation and a decidedly “un-Aspen-like” casual feel, is one of our favorites, along with Steamboat, and Durango. After visiting all the local shops, we had dinner at Secret Stash, a funky pizza restaurant, featuring “Notorious Fig Pizza” (Sally also had a Mai Tai which made her quite a silly gal), then spent the night at Almont Campground – our campsite being right on the Taylor River. .

Brrrr, the temperature dropped down to 17 degrees last night and tree branches protruding from the river were coated with ice.

Sunrise on the frosty Taylor River
 After a quick breakfast we left our Taylor River campsite for the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, near Gunnison, Colorado when a disturbing “diesel exhaust system warning” message flashed on the info screen. Luckily, this only required a 5 mile detour to Montrose, Colorado. Where the local Chevy garage replaced a part under warranty, and we were back on the road in 1.5 hrs. Thankfully, we did not attempt the major back country route we had planned without this service, as the service advisor assured us we would not have made it home!
Sally on the Gunnison River
Lovely, wild water
 The Black Canyon of the Gunnison – East Portal Campground is peacefully beautiful. Sally fished, I lit the BBQ, and fixed dinner and a camp fire. Our camp neighbors Barrett and Amy stopped over after dinner and we chatted until bedtime.
We got on the water by 10:30, catching and releasing 4 brown trout on the day.  After returning tired and hungry, I prepared an experimental dinner over the fire: Chicken a l’Orange baked in a Dutch Oven with a green salad and homemade cookies for dessert.  I must say, it was really rather tasty!
 Our plan was to camp at Redstone Campground near Redstone, Colorado and tour the lovely restored streets.  As Wikipedia reports: “Redstone was established in the late 19th century by industrialist John Cleveland Osgood as part of a coal mining enterprise. Osgood’s coal empire also spurred construction of the Crystal River Railroad and Redstone’s historic dwellings. As an experiment in “enlightened industrial paternalism,” Osgood constructed 84 cottages and a 40-room inn, all with indoor plumbing and electricity, for his coal miners, as well as modern bathhouse facilities, a club house with a library and a theatre, and a school. Most of these Craftsman-era Swiss-style cottages are still used as homes.  A dominant feature of Redstone is Cleveholm Manor, commonly called “Redstone Castle,” an opulent 42-room Tudor-style mansion that Osgood built for his second wife, Swedish Countess Alma Regina Shelgrem. Construction of Cleveholm Manor, which was designed by New York architects Boal and Harnois, began in 1897 and was completed in 1901. The Castle was part of a 72-acre (29 ha) estate that also included servants’ quarters, a gamekeeper’s lodge, a carriage house, and a greenhouse.”
Alas, we found the campground already closed for the season, so we headed on to Sylvan Lake State Park, featuring beautiful Sylvan Lake and having 46 lovely campsites, 3 yurts and 9 cabins with solar electricity and propane heating. A lovely setting for a glass of wine with grilled sea scallops and green salad for dinner.
Fly fishing Sylvan Lake
 After a brief, unsuccessful attempt at fishing the lake, we returned home, eager for our next adventure……….

Author: David Willett

Worked at Agilent Technologies and Hewlett-Packard, attended University of Washington and Michigan State University, lived in the Netherlands, the Peoples Republic of China and the United States, visited 36 countries, 11 of 13 Canadian Provinces and all 50 U.S. states, living in Fort Collins, CO, USA

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