SUMMIT COUNTY COLORADO
Summit County Colorado is located approximately 70 miles west of Denver, along I-70, between the Eisenhower Tunnel to the east and Vail pass to the west; and along Colorado Hwy. 9 between Hoosier Pass on the south and Green Mountain Reservoir to the North. We are bounded by Grand Co. to the north and northeast, Clear Creek Co. in the east, Park and Lake Co's. to the south and Eagle Co. to the west. The county includes the towns of Breckenridge, Frisco, Dillon and Silverthorne and the villages of Copper Mountain, Keystone, Montezuma and Heeney. Summit Co. has a rich history spanning Native American habitation dating to pre-historic times, as one of the emerging nation's most significant mining districts from the 1800s to the turn of the century, and most recently as the home to America's primmer destination ski resorts. Within the county are almost 7000 acres of lift-serviced skiing including the major resorts of Keystone, Breckenridge and Arapahoe Basin. Within minutes of driving distance from the county are the resorts of Vail, Loveland Basin, Winter Park and Steamboat Springs. Also, within Summit Co., or within minutes of driving distance are some of Colorado's major trout streams and lakes:
SUMMIT COUNTY: COMMENTS AND DRIVING TIMES
LAKE DILLON: Spectacular high mountain lake (9000 ft) with 5 species of trout
BLUE RIVER: Gold Medal fly fishing, catch and release
SNAKE RIVER: Small mountain tail water that flows through Keystone Resort
TEN MILE CREEK: Classic mountain stream in Ten Mile Canyon near Copper Mtn.
GREEN MTN. RESV: Beautiful impoundment of the Blue R. in the Gore Mtn. Range
GORE MTN. LAKES: Numerous high alpine lakes in the Gore Mtn. Wilderness
SWAN RIVER: Small mountain brook trout stream near Breckenridge
WITHIN DRIVING DISTANCE:
ARKANSAS RIVER: 50-90 min in Leadville, Lake Co.
EAGLE RIVER: 45 min in Minturn, Eagle Co.
GORE CREEK: 45 min in Vail, Eagle Co, Gold Medal fly water
SOUTH PLATTE: 90 min in Park Co., Gold Medal fly water
RESERVOIRS: 90 min in Park Co. to Spinney, Antero, and Eleven Mile Gold Medal fly water COLORADO R: 40-90 min in Grand Co., Gold Medal fly waters
WILLIAM'S FORK: 30 min in Grand Co., small mountain brook trout stream
WILLOW CREEK: 90 min in Grand Co., small mountain brook trout stream
TROUBLESOME CK: 90 min in Grand Co., small mountain brook trout stream
In addition to fly fishing there are numerous vacation opportunities for the entire family within, or near, to Summit Co. A brief list includes: Mountain biking, horseback riding, 44 miles of paved bike trails, outlet shopping, museums, hiking and mountain climbing, scenic ski lift rides, fabulous dining and great accommodations. The area has many national and state camp grounds (CG reservations are usually required) and is 90 miles from Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP West Entrance).
I am a ski instructor at Keystone Resort and an amateur fly-fisherman in the summer months. I provide this fly fishing home page as information for everyone, and especially for my ski students who return to Summit Co. to fish in the summer. Within this home page you will find information on the local stream which I fish and a weekly update on what's happening on these streams. Many of these fly waters are known locally and are not the major "tourist" streams. They provide the guest with some very high quality fly fishing in remote mountain areas free from large numbers of other fishermen. You may also find some short stories and poems posted here. I have included links to some of my favorite Colorado fishing pages on the Net and addresses and phone numbers for some of our local guides and fly fishing outfitters/stores. I encourage you to use our guides whenever possible, they are after all the pros.
A. REGULATIONS: Many of our streams/lakes may only be fished with artificial lures and flies, and are catch and release only. Many stretches of water have special regulations (barbless hooks only) and may be the habitats for protected (Fed/State) and endangered species of fish. Please pay special attention to all signs and postings located on fishing waters and obey all regulations and laws. Current Colorado state fishing regulations may be obtained at any store which sells licenses. BEFORE YOU FISH, please make yourself completely knowledgeable with the local regulations, they are there for YOU.
B. PRIVATE PROPERTY: Colorado's water-rights laws are incomprehensible to most of us. Many of our fishing waters are located entirely, or in part, on privately held lands or privately leased lands, and on state or federal lands. The simple rule is DO NOT TRESPASS. You may obtain permission to fish some private waters but please respect private property and if you have any questions check with the local guides or fishing clubs before you go.
WHEN IN DOUBT, GO SOMEWHERE ELSE TO FISH, THERE'S A LOT OF SPACE TO FISH OUT HERE.
National Forest (NF) lands/parks may have special rules concerning fishing so please check in with the local NF HQ. There are NF HQs in the local phone book for Arapahoe, White River, San Isebel, and the Routt NFs and for Rocky Mtn. Natl. Park.
C. ALTITUDE: All of Summit Co, and much of the adjoining county lands are at ALTITUDE. Base elevations for fishing in Summit Co are between 8,000-10,000 ft above sea level and some high alpine lakes are above timber line at 11,500+ feet. When fishing, even in the summer months, you must be prepared for high altitude and take the appropriate precautions.
1. Sun block: Use a 30 block liberally, applying every 1-2 hr. Secondary skin burns may occur without sun block. Use sun block even on cloudy days.
2. Hats/Sunglasses: Wear them even on cloudy days to provide additional head and eye protection from the sun and from indirect UV reflected off water.
3. Back Packs: Whenever you hike into lakes or streams, take a back pack with a first aid kit, rain suit, warm jacket, gloves, a good topo. map, compass, whistle, if you have one a radio/cellular phone, water and power bars. Drink lots of water, constantly, as you dehydrate very rapidly at these altitudes, especially on warm, sunny days. At these altitudes the weather can change in a nanosecond. Many fast moving storms come from the west after mid-day and depending on altitude they can include torrential downpours, lightning, hail and snow.
An important rule to follow when hiking at altitude include: 1. Buddy up. 2. Leave word at your hotel, or a map with directions in your car, as to where you are going and when you expect to be back, and check-out once you return.
USE OUR LOCAL GUIDES, THEY ARE BACK COUNTRY PROS, and its a modest expense for fun and safety.
D. WILDLIFE: You will be fishing in someone else's home, please treat it that way. You may encounter elk, deer, moose, beaver, porcupines, bears, mountain lions, lynx, fox, coyote, badgers and weasels of all sorts. These are not zoo animals they are wild, free and unpredictable. You are passing through their homes, so please leave them alone and avoid them when possible. Do not approach them or try to feed them or even photograph them at close range.
BE SAFE AND RESPECT ALL WILDLIFE!
E. HIGH ALTITUDE SICKNESS: Some of the symptoms include dizziness, nausea, light headedness, confusion, shortness of breath, poor sleep, thirst, dry mouth and nose, nose bleeding, blue lips and nail beds. These symptoms may occur gradually or suddenly depending on your level of activity and the altitude. Should you experience any of these symptoms please seek medical attention. All of our communities have medical facilities with medical personnel expert in altitude sickness. In general, keep drinking lots of water, use sun protection and if you begin to experience high altitude sickness in the backcountry go immediately to lower altitudes.
F. THE WEATHER: The "usual" weather pattern for Summit Co., is cool clear mornings, gathering clouds at mid-day and a late afternoon/evening thunderstorm.
REMEMBER, when you are fishing in high alpine areas the mountain ranges may run between 12,000-14,000 feet in altitude and you simply can not see these storms approaching, hence you need to be prepared.
1. Remember your back pack with rain gear and warm jacket.
2. Check local weather conditions before you leave for the day.
3. Listen for thunder, the storm may be only one peak away.
4. Be ready, if possible, to take shelter.
5. Be ready for SUDDEN temperature drops accompanied by snow/hail.
6. LIGHTNING IN THE MOUNTAINS IS DANGEROUS, don't ride it out, seek shelter or leave the area immediately, if you can see lightning it in the mountains it's too close.
7. Fast moving storm fronts may be preceded by high winds.
8. USE GUIDES, they are the pros and familiar with the local conditions.
G. SOME PHONE NUMBERS:
ALL EMERGENCIES: 911
DIVISION OF WILDLIFE FISH REPORTS:
COLORADO STATE PARKS
1313 SHERMAN ST. RM 618
DENVER, CO 80203
U.S. FOREST SERVICE
LAKEWOOD, CO 80225
GUIDES AND LOCAL FLY FISHING STORES:
Mr. Jackson Streit, The Mountain Angler, P.O. Box 467, 311 S. Main St., Breckenridge, CO 80424, 970-453-4665. Mr. Streit is one of the most qualified and knowledgeable guides in the area and his text on fly fishing Colorado is a must have: No Nonsense Guide to Fly Fishing Colorado, by Jackson Streit, 1995, David Communications, Publisher, ISBN# 0-9637256-4-5. Whatever he says is taken by most of us as gospel for Summit Co. He can be reached at his store and please go and meet him.
Also in Summit county, and of excellent assistance are:
Gold Medal Fly Shop, P.O. Box 1399, 1130 Blue River Parkway, Silverthorne, CO, 80498, 970-468-8961.
Summit Guides, Keystone Village, Keystone, CO 80435, 970-468-8945.
Columbine Outfitters, P.O. Box 2069, 502 Main Street, Silverthorne, CO 80443, 970- 262-0966.
NOTE: Most of these stores will have daily hatch reports for the local streams as well as maps and very good directions to streams. Maps may also be obtained at several of the local bookstores, BLM maps at the Bookstore in Breckenridge and NF maps may be obtained at the Arapahoe NF HQ located on the Blue River Parkway in Silverthorne.
PHOTOGRAPH 1: Lake Dillon at Sunset
1. THE BLUE RIVER
2. THE WILLIAMS FORK
3. LAKE DILLON
4. THE COLORADO RIVER (UPPER SECTION)
5. THE NORTH FORK OF THE COLORADO RIVER (RMNP)
6. THE EAGLE RIVER
7. THE UPPER ARKANSAS RIVER
MAP 1: Map of Denver and Vacinity
The "Blue" is one of Colorado's most beautiful Gold Medal fly waters. Its origin is Blue Mountain Lake on Hoosier Pass, south of Breckenridge. Blue Mtn. lake lies between 14,000 foot Quandary Peak and North Star Mountain, in the famous Monte Cristo mine district. This mining area is the rhodocrhosite capitol of the universe and the home of the "Alma King" on display and the Natural History Museum in Denver.
The best fishing is from the Lake Dillon dam north, downstream to the Colorado River in Kremling. There are 10 miles of public access, see map, between Dillon and Green Mountain Res. Excellent, big fish are taken below the Dillon Dam in the town of Silverthorne, due to the abundance of Mysis shrimp in this area.
Exit I-70 at the Dillon/Silverthorne exit. You will see the Dillon Dam to the east. You are now on Colorado Hwy 9 which travels north to the town of Kremling following the path of the Blue for much of the way. Much of the river access is on private ranch land, however the ten miles between Silverthorne and GMR in Heeney have ample public access and parking are provided in the State Wildlife Areas (SWAs) located all along this stretch of the river. Read and obey all regulations posted on these signs.
Major species caught in the Blue include: German Brown trout, Brook trout, Rainbow trout, Colorado Cutthroat trout, and Kokanee salmon from GMR which run the Blue in the fall to spawn. Consult the listed fly shops for the daily hatch patterns.
There are NF and State campgrounds at Dillon Lake and GMR and along the Blue R. Excellent accommodations may be found in Frisco, Dillon and Silverthorne and at the Keystone Resort. At peak holiday times the Blue can become crowded. Local's favorite side trips can be taken to the Swan River between Frisco and Breckenridge, Ten Mile creek between Frisco and Copper Mtn, and to the Williams Fork (see WF site).
While there are numerous "local's" favorites near Summit Co., this small mountain creek provides some of the most scenic and secluded fly fishing in the area. The WF originates on the divide near Byer's Peak and this tributary of the Colorado R. flows north along the southwest margin of Grand Co. joining the Colorado near Parshall on U.S. 40. The WF enters a canyon and private land to the north, but much of the river south of the canyon is accessible to the public. Near the north end of the canyon, the WF is impounded to form Williams Fork reservoir, an excellent fly-fishing, northern pike lake, and then it flows into the Colorado.
Take Colorado Hwy 9 north from Silverthorne approximately 8 miles to the Ute Pass Road. Go east up Ute Pass. Do stop at the top of the pass for one of the most spectacular and unknown views in the state, of the Gore Mountain Wilderness. Continue past the Henderson Mill until the road becomes an excellent Grand Co. dirt road #132. County road #138 turns back south towards the Henderson Mine and follows the river to the state South Fork and Sugarloaf CGs. The creek may be accessed at the Kinney Creek bridge, marked by a sign. Going north on CR #132 you will come to the Horseshoe CG and public access.
This is primarily a native Brook and Rainbow trout stream but may be stocked. Fish are typically 8-12 inches and boy howdy do they fight. This is a nice, small tail water which is no more than a few feet deep with a rocky bottom. There are several beaver ponds along the flow and they can get deep, so have a care.
Lake Dillon is an impoundment of the Blue and Snake rivers and Ten Mile creek which used to meet in the old town of Dillon. As you exit I-70 at Dillon/Silverthorne head east on Colorado Hwy. 6 towards the Keystone resort. You will see Dillon Dam immediately. As you pass by the town of Dillon the highway opens onto a beautiful view of the lake looking south towards the Ten Mile Range and the Breckenridge ski area. The lake is about seven miles long extending north to south, the dam in the west, and is over 200 feet at its deepest point. It is well known by fishermen and sailors for its fearsome winds over the dam which come up very quickly as well as rapidly moving storms which blow in over the Ten Mile and Gore Ranges within minutes.
Exit I-70 at Dillon traveling east on Colo. 6 to the town of Dillon. Access to the lake by boat at either the Dillon town marina or the marina in Frisco. There is public access to the lake around its entire length. There is NO fishing from the dam. There is float tube access to the Blue river inlet at the Breckenridge water treatment plant on Swan Mtn. road just off of Colorado 9 as you travel south on CO 9 to the town of Breckenridge. The lake may be fished either from boat or from the shore. Boat rentals and public boat launches are available at both marinas. Private boat docking space is available on a temporary basis.
Species of fish found in the lake include German Brown trout which may become quite large and are caught primarily on downriggers, rainbow trout, brook trout, cutthroat trout and kokanee salmon in the 2-5 lb range.
There is good trolling with spoons, flashers and downriggers in the early spring, and good trolling with spoons and minnow imitations year round near the shores and drop offs. In the evenings year round there is good fly fishing at the three river inlets into the lake, either from boat or from shore.
The NF CG at Giberson Bay is outstanding, but call for a reservation as some folks come and camp all summer long.
There is a state CG on the east side of the lake at the old Lowry AFB property, and excellent local accommodations in Frisco, Dillon and at the Keystone Resort.
Side fishing trips may be taken to the Snake river between Keystone Resort and Lake Dillon but there are no fish upstream of Keystone as yet, because of mine run off. There is good fishing on the Ten Mile creek from Frisco to Copper Mtn, but there are no fish upstream from Copper Mtn., due to mine run off. The mouth of the Blue is a favorite local float tube spot (closed 1 Oct to 1 Feb).
The upper section of the Colorado between Granby and Kremling is one of our most famous tail waters. The river is broad and shallow with a rock bottom and reliable hatches. The origin of the Colorado is in RMNP where the river flows south into Lake Granby and Grand Lake, then west to Kremling through Byer's canyon. Towns along its route include Hot Sulfur Springs, Parshall and Kremling. U.S. 40 parallels the river for this section. The river flows primarily through private ranch land. Due to the graciousness of our ranchers, the river may be accessed via SWAs along its course.
From Denver take I-70 west to U.S. 40, Berthod Pass to Granby, then west to Kremling. From Summit Co. take Colorado 9 north to Kremling, then east on U.S. 40 to Granby.
The river may be accessed along its route via SWAs. My favorite SWAs are the Kemp and Breeze SWAs, west of Parshall, and the Lone Buck and Paul Gilbert SWAs, west of Byer's canyon.
Please pay attention to all posted signs regarding access, do not trespass.
This may be some of the best Gold Medal trout water in the state and one of my favorite areas. It tends to have few fishermen in the early to late evening, but can get crowded on peak holidays. If crowded, hit one of the side trips. This is a classic western fly stream with good hatches of midges, tricos and caddis.
There are CGs at Lone Buck SWA, in Hot Sulfur Springs, at Grand Lake and in the Winter Park recreation area of Grand Co. Accommodations may be found in Kremling, Granby, Grand Lake and at RMNP.
If it gets crowded side trips may be taken to the North Fork of the Colorado in RMNP (see next), Willow Creek, Troublesome Creek or the Williams Fork.
The NF of the Colorado is the river's main tributary flowing south out of RMNP to form the Colorado River. I guess that everyone has a favorite stream or two in their lives and this is one of mine. The river at this point is approximately 5 miles long and located primarily within RMNP with public access along its entire length. It meanders through one of the most beautiful valleys of tall grass and pine forest, bounded on the east by the continental divide and on the west by the Never Summer Mountain range.
The river is open to the public over its entire length within RMNP. Take U.S. 40 to Colorado Hwy 34 to RMNP West Entrance traveling north.
This is a classic high mountain creek with rocky/sandy bottom, tail waters, beaver ponds and deep pools and undercut banks. Once you fish it you will dream about it the rest of your life. In the fall you can stand there fishing and hear the elk bugling in the forest.
Species of fish include Brook trout and Rainbow trout which fight like the dickens and in the fall German Browns run upstream out of Grand Lake to spawn. Fish are typically 8-12 inches but the Gr. Browns can run to 4-5 lbs.
There is camping throughout RMNP but call for reservations. Accommodations may be found in Granby and Grand Lake and in the Winter Park recreation area.
Peak holidays may be crowded near the road but if you walk away from the road you may be the only person fishing.
REMEMBER that this is a natural wildlife area and be aware of the presence of elk, deer and moose. In the fall this valley is an elk migration route and you may not fish or trespass on the western side of the river.
The Eagle River is one of our exceptionally beautiful rivers flowing through some really spectacular mountain country. The origin of the river is on the Tennessee and Fremont Passes and in the Holy Cross Wilderness. Bounded by huge stands of aspen trees and pine forest, in the fall the valley is breathtaking. Here the river flows north to the town of Minturn near Vail on I-70, then it turns west to join the Colorado River in Dotsero.
Take I-70 west to Vail then 5 miles to Mintrun, turning south towards Leadville and Tennessee Pass on Colorado Hwy 24. The highway follows the Eagle for much of its length. I-70 also follows the Eagle west through the towns of Avon, Edwards and Eagle from which there are numerous SWA access sites.
I prefer the upper section from Minturn through Camp Hale, home of the 10th Mountain Division as it is less crowded. I find exceptional fishing in the Hornsilver CG area before Homestake creek.
Float trips on the Minturn to Dotsero section of the Eagle are very popular. You can only access the upper Eagle above the Gilman mine site up to Camp Hale or below the mine back to Minturn. Excellent nymphing may be found in the waters flowing from from beaver ponds.
Species found include Rainbow trout, Brook trout, German Brown trout and Cutthroats in the higher feeder creeks.
There are great CGs at Hornsilver and Camp Hale and wilderness camping in the Holy Cross. Four star dining and accommodations may be found in Vail/Beaver Creek.
Side fishing trips may be made to the Lower section of the Colorado River which runs north from Dotsero up to Kremling, the Gold Medal waters of Gore Creek, and to the Arkansas River, Twin Lakes and Turquoise Lakes areas near Leadville.
I can't believe I'm going to tell anyone about this place, but if you've read this far you might just be crazy enough to believe me. The Arkansas river begins on Fremont Pass at the Climax mine north of Leadville and flows downstream along Colorado Hwy 91 into Turquoise Lake at the foot of Mt. Massive. It is a small alpine stream full of beaver ponds and trout. It is difficult fishing with lots of underbrush casts and hang ups, but full of fish. It is my after-work hot spot and I am usually the only one fishing here.
Exit I-70 at Copper Mtn on Colorado Hwy. 91 to Leadville. Just past the Climax mine on Fremont Pass you cross the Arkansas in a culvert and the highway follows the river into Leadville. You are in the San Isabel NF and you may access the stream along its entire course. There is some private ranch land along the river about 4 miles downstream from the mine. Be careful parking as there are no real parking areas, just fall hunters campsites.
Species of fish include Rainbow trout, Brook trout and some Cutthroat trout, all fish occur in the 10 inch range although I have caught a few 12-15 inch Rainbows.
There are no CGs in the area but accommodations may be found in Leadville or Copper Mountain. This creek makes for a delightful day trip with kids. You won't believe how many fishermen pass this section by because it is so small. By the way, if you fish this, you owe me one.
The following recipes were borrowed from the Colorado Collage, The Junior League of Denver, pages 28, 198 and 199; C & C Publications, Junior League of Denver, Inc., 6300 E. Yale Avenue, Denver, CO 80222, ISBN 0-9603946-4-8. They're really good:
Lay trout open, skin side down. Make 3 diagonal slashes in flesh on each side. Combine coarse salt and pepper and rub entire cavity and each slash. Place trout in enamel or glass baking dishes. Do not overlap.
In glass bowl, whisk lemon juice, olive oil, and chopped sage. Pour over trout, coating each and allowing mixture to penetrate slashes. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill 3-12 hours, turing occasionally.
Preheat ove to 400 degrees. Lightly oil foil pieces. Place trout, skin side down, in center of foil, reserving marinade. Place 1 whole sage leaf over each slash. Drizzle reserved marinade evenly over trout. Fold foil over to cover fish and fold edges together several times to seal. Place packets on baking sheets and bake 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Place trout on serving platter and spoon about 1 tablespoon of the cooking juices over each trout. Serve at room temperature.
In small bowl, combine mustard, garlic, molasses, and honey. Open trout and place, skin side down, on baking sheet or in large baking pan. Do not overlap. Cover flesh evenly with reserved mustard mixture and let stand, at room temperature, 30 minutes.
Prehea ove to 200 degrees. In food processor, combine toasted pecans, bread crumbs, and chili powder and pulse until fine. Pour onto plate. In large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Dredge flesh sides of trout in bread crumb mixture. Place 1 or 2 of the trout, skin side down, in skillet and cook until crisp and browned, about 4 minutes. Turn and continue cooking about 2 minutes. Transfer to platter and place in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining trout, adding additional olive oil when necessary. Serve immediately.
Pour 14/-inch layer of the conomme into 2-cup mold. Reserve remaining consomme for another use. Chill until firmly congealed. Rinse and drain chopped livers thoroughly. In medium skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Add livers and shallots. Cook until lightly browned and livers are no longer pink, about 10 minutes.
In small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup of the whipping cream and gelatin over low heat. Heat until gelatin is completely dissolved, 2-3 mintues. Do not stir. Remove from heat.
In food processor, cream remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add liver mixture, gelatin mixture, brandy, salt, pepper, marjoram, ginger, cinnamon, remaining 3/4 cup cream, and lemon juice. Process until thoroughly blended. Strain, pressing lightly to exude all liquid. Discard solids. Pour liquid pate mixture gently into mold over congealed consomme. Chill overnight. Unmold by inverting mold onto serving plate. Serve with toast points, baguette slices, or melba toasts.
In food processor, combine trout, cream cheese, goat cheese, and butter. Pulse until slightly blended. Add green onion, horseradish, lemon juice, Tabasco, capers, and parsley. Process until well blended. Chill several hours and serve with water crackers or baguette slices.
North Fork Colorado River
Gore Mountain Range, from Ute Pass, Valley of Blue River
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