Among the tributaries of the mighty Colorado River, there are few stretches Gold Medal trout water that are as easy to access as the Blue River.
While it is not the largest of the Colorado tributaries, that is honestly part of the charm of fishing there: everything is just the right size and it’s within easy driving distance of Denver.
Anglers, canoeing enthusiasts, kayakers, and rafters all flock to the Blue River for whatever means outdoor sports to them, and summertime can see quite a lot of activity on the river. If you are there for trout though, you are in luck. The brook trout population is excellent year over year, and those in search of a prize rainbow can usually land their river monster in the tailwaters of the Blue below the Dillon Dam.
The majority of the Blue River is also a popular choice because it is classic mountain stream fishing that’s easily accessed from the big city. West of the Blue are the peaks of the Gore Range, some of which climb to altitudes of 13,000 feet. Among the slopes and foothills of the Gore lies the Eagles Nest Wilderness, and to the east of the Blue you can see the Williams Fork Mountains framed against the sky on clear days in the Spring and Summer.
The northern stretch of the Blue River runs between Silverthorne and Green Mountain Reservoir, and is the epitome of a pacific fir tree trimmed mountain stream teeming with trout. Despite the views and the ease of access though, the northern section of Blue never seems to draw that much of a crowd even in peak season.
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The Gold Medal section of the Blue River is located downstream from the dam at the Dillon Reservoir and runs all the way to the town of Kremmling (about 38 miles away). All you need to do to get there is hop on I-70 West from Denver and get off at Highway 9 on the other side of the Eisenhower Tunnel.
If you are fishing the Blue for rainbows, you'll want to hit the river just below the dam. Anglers who are on the hunt for brook trout and the occasional brown should seek the northern waters of the Blue River closer to the Gore Range. The upper river is quite shallow most of the year so pack your hip waders for best results.
Look for the P for parking signs along Highway 9 for best access to this stretch of river. It’s mostly public land too, so no need to worry about trespassing when fishing near the designated parking areas.
The best season to visit the Blue is between Mid-June and the end of November for sure, but you can fish the Blue River year round and still land decently sized fish. The hatches are best during the summer and fall. The Green Drake hatches along the Blue River are the stuff of local fishing legend.
Generally speaking, the best time of day is from around mid-morning (9 a.m.) until the early evening (6 p.m.). Visibility is best during the summer months, so if you are in search of crystal clear stream waters you will need to visit the Blue in June and July.
The big hatches on the Blue River are midges, Caddis, Stoneflies, and Mayflies. The Blue is also one of three tailwaters in Colorado to have Mysis shrimp which are a favorite of the local rainbows and contribute to legendary size they attain.
Some favorite fly patterns for the Blue River include:
- TH Zebra Midge (black #20-24)
- WD-40 (black or brown #20-24)
- Prince Nymph (olive/black #16-20)
- RS2 (olive or gray #20-24)
- Disco Midge Larva (red #18-22)
- Bead Head Wooly Bugger (black #10)
- Mysis Shrimp (white #18-20)
- Two Bit Hooker (red/black #14-18)
- San Juan Worm (pink/tan/red #12)
A 9-foot 5-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on the ABC River. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 6X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.
There are a number of area fly shops and on-line retailers that publish Blue River fishing reports. A few to check out are listed below.
Most of the Blue River is Colorado Division of Wildlife rules. Keep in mind though that the first few miles of river south of the dam are catch and release only, and further downstream there is a 16” length requirement and a bag limit of 2 fish per person per day. See the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Blue River Basin Fishing Regulation Map below.
The Blue River is less than a half-hour drive from the city limits of Denver, so flying into DIA is ideal for trips to visit the Blue. As far as accommodations are concerned, there are numerous hotels, bed and breakfasts, condos, cabins, and campgrounds all over the greater Denver area and out in Silverthorne and Kremmling.
Finding a place to stay even in peak season should not be an issue, and there are often ski season rentals that are discounted during the summer months that can save you serious money on your stay. Definitely check into local vacation rentals too, as these are often discounted outside of ski season as well.
Ken is an avid fisherman of 40+ years who loves to explore and is on a quest to map the best places for fly fishing in America. He created the DIY Fly Fishing App to share this information and help you find new places to fish.
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