The fish may just hook you |

The fish may just hook you

Kimberly Nicoletti
Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk

Trapper Rudd freely admits he’s obsessed. He’d be happy lost at sea on a dingy as long as he had a fly rod and some flies.

Luckily, he doesn’t have to risk his life at sea; he lives in the trout Mecca, he said. Summit County is the gateway to four gold medal rivers: the Blue, Williams Fork, Colorado and South Platte. The waters host trophy-size brown trout, because the rivers stem from bottom-release dams, which keeps the water temperature consistently cool.

“The trout feed year-round here, better than any other state in the West,” said Clint Rossell, a guide at Cutthroat Anglers in Silverthorne.

Rudd and other fly-fishing guides in Summit County take their clients to the best fishing spots ” whether it be a private pond or a stream ” and provide tips on casting, how to play and land fish, how to select a fly and how to read the water.

“It’s like playing chess,” Rudd said. “There’s always a different move to make. It’s not a passive activity. It’s a thinking game, really. There are so many variables that come together.”

Rudd compares it to perpetually trying to hit a hole-in-one in golf. As one of his guides, Chris Hall, says:

“Fish won’t move any more for your flies than the hole will move for your golf ball. Hit the spots!”

Most of the guides in Summit County put in 14-hour days, then often gather together at night to critique spots and fly effectiveness and plan the next day’s strategy. Their attitude, as Rossell puts it, is: “You can’t catch every fish every day, but every fish can be caught.”

So they strive to read the water like a map and find out what the fish are feeding on, in order to “match the hatch.”

“It’s a sport you can never outgrow, because you can never know everything about fly-fishing,” Rudd said.

It has taught Joe Rodman, a guide at Breckenridge Outfitters, patience and persistence. He has been fly-fishing for 19 years and also believes a person never can master the sport. He began with his dad, every Sunday, as a kid.

“It really was kind of our religion,” Rodman said. “From sun-up to sundown, it was our getaway.”

He reveres not only the experience of fishing, but also the surrounding scenery.

“Ninety percent of it is just being out there,” he said. “Trout don’t live in ugly places.”

He encourages people who want solitude to stay away from big rivers in the summer.

“There’s so much open water … just look at a map, find a blue streak and hike to it,” he said. “Any flowing water is going to have trout.” ≈

If another angler is fishing a run, give him or her ample room. If there are consecutive, productive runs, ask the angler if you can fish ahead.

In the last decade, drift boat and raft traffic has grown, causing white water rafts to run into fishing boats frequently. The down river vessel has the right away (just like a car on the highway); it is the responsibility of up river boats to slow or maneuver accordingly to avoid the downstream vessel.


Purchase a Colorado fishing license at any license agency, by calling 1-800-244-5613, or through Credit and debit cards are accepted. All anglers older than 16 must purchase a license.

Cost: one day, $9; each additional day, $5; annual fee for nonresidents, $61.

May through June: Get out your big rigs, and don’t be intimidated by high water. This is great time to use stronger tippets, leaders and big flies (streamers). Larger trout will feed freely, making them more accessible. The best rivers to fish are tailwater for clear water.

July through September: Put away your nymphs and get out the dry flies. Prominent hatches of Green Drakes, PMD’s, Caddis, Tricos, Baetis and terrestrials provide wonderful dry fly action. Small mountain creeks tend to be uncrowded. All of Colorado’s rivers will provide great fishing during these months.


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