Colorado Fishing Guide: Tenmile Creek in July |

Colorado Fishing Guide: Tenmile Creek in July

Colorado Division of Wildlife officials wade through a portion of Tenmile Creek outside of Frisco. The creek is running lower than the Blue River and nearby Eagle River, making it a prime location for mid-summer anglers.
Special to the Daily |

Why not the Blue?

If you’ve heard of Summit County’s crown waterway, the Blue River, you know it’s a Gold Medal stream and home to some of the smartest and craftiest river trout in Colorado.

But early July isn’t the time to test your mettle, according to guides with Blue River Anglers in Frisco.

“The Blue between Frisco and Breckenridge right now is just blown out,” guide Brennon Garrett says. “It’s way to high, way too fast, with way too much water. If you go lower, below the Dillon Reservoir, it’s just extremely technical. You have to be really good to catch anything down there.”

Just look at the flows: Right now Tenmile Creek is running around 260 cubic feet per second — just barely above the average for this time of year — while the Blue River is running at 655 cfs below. That’s 150 cfs higher than normal, and above the dam along Highway 9 the Breckenridge-area fish are hidden in a makeshift sea of flooded meadows and rec paths.

The flows aren’t impossibly fast, but as Garrett says, you need pro-level technique and patience to wrangle that Gold Medal quarry.

Rain can be an angler’s best friend.

After a few solid weeks of summery weather, Mother Nature reared her fickle head over the holiday weekend and brought nearly a week of consistent rain to Summit County. Each morning and afternoon brought at least a minor drizzle — more often than not it became a legitimate downpour — and unlike a typical July in the Colorado Rockies the clouds rarely disappeared. For hikers, bikers, rock climbers and just about everyone else, it was a long and lonesome week spent inside.

But not so for anglers.

With the promise of warmer weather on the horizon, fly-fishing in the next week or so promises to be rewarding, as long as you know where to look. The season is still young, and waterways like the Blue River and portions of the upper Eagle River are running much too quick and much too deep for fishing.

Instead, wait for the post-storm bugs to converge this weekend on Tenmile Creek, a favorite early-season ride for kayakers and, when more popular waterways are fishing at peak levels, an oasis for anglers.

Tenmile Creek

If you’ve been to Frisco, or even made the drive through Officers Gulch between Frisco and Copper, you’ve passed by Tenmile Creek. And you may have never noticed.

The creek is relatively small, at least in comparison to neighboring waterways. It’s about 8.5 miles long from Copper to the Dillon Reservoir inlet, hidden throughout by overhanging trees and creekside brush. But those natural barriers make for pitch-perfect pocket fishing, and even after a stretch of long, drawn-out rainstorms, the flows only jumped slightly and the water clarity is much better than the muddy Blue.

The fishing is good along the entire 8.5-mile stretch, says Brennon Garrett with Blue River Anglers, but as usual this early in the summer, casting near the reservoir inlet just north of the Frisco Bay Marina is best.

“Tenmile has been the hot ticket right now for people just coming into town,” Garrett says. “It’s a close place with nice, easy fishing right now.”

The fish

Expect a mix of High Country mackinaw and rainbow trout, but don’t expect to mount anything on your mantle. The majority of fish on the creek are in the 12- to 14-inch range. Closer to the reservoir, both species are between 14 to 16 inches, although Garrett says you can find the occasional 20-inch mackinaw. For anything bigger, head onto the open water.

Pro tip

Don’t underestimate your quarry.

“The fish in Tenmile are kind of spooky,” Garrett warns. “You still have to be a little sneaky, make good presentations, but they’re eating and they’re eating pretty well.”

Garrett suggests throwing big, black streamers with a fast and aggressive strip. Even with relatively low flows, the fish will zip by in upper sections before slowing near the inlet. Be patient — they will come.

“Sometimes you have to slow it down and change your strips out,” Garrett says. “Definitely have some patience right now.”

Best lures: Caddis, caddis pupa, nymphs

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