(Last Updated On: August 16, 2017)

Author: Phil Linderman
Summit Daily News

The day was almost too perfect.

Phil Lindeman / plindeman@summitdaily.com |
Jon (left) and Donna Ventura of Los Alamos, New Mexico work on casting technique during an introductory fly-fishing trip to the South Platte River in 2016. Headwaters for the Middle Fork of the South Platte begin just south of Hoosier Pass and are teeming with aggressive brown trout during the autumn spawning season, where most fishing is catch-and-release in accordance with conservationist Bud Lilly’s work.

On a sunny, bright, brilliant morning in the thick of Alma autumn, Jon and Donna Ventura of Los Alamos, New Mexico were standing on the marshy banks of the South Platte River (Middle Fork) trying to perfect their fly-fishing technique. It was the first time either of them had tried their hand at angling — the flys, the leaders, the pickup cast and roll cast — and after 45 minutes neither one had caught a brown trout. They could see the occasional ripple from a hungry brown, but the fish just weren’t taking the mayflies and midges preferred for this time of year.

Standing to the side with a watchful eye was Justin Wyman, a first-year guide from Breckenridge Outfitters. Today the Venturas were his only clients for the two-hour introductory session, so he was more concerned with teaching the basics than catching trout after trout after trout — although that would be a nice bonus for everyone.

“Sometimes,” Wyman said while analyzing Donna’s cast, “when it’s this clear and this bright the fish won’t come out. That’s why they call it fishing, not catching.”

It’s not like the Venturas were disappointed. The sky overhead was impossibly blue and dotted with sparse clouds, while on all sides pockets of shimmering, golden aspens accented the hills between thick stands of brownish-green pines.

When a gentle breeze blew the entire pockmarked blanket seemed to sway and ripple, bright yellow to rusty orange to bright yellow again, like nature’s quicksilver. It was nearly the height of autumn leaf-peeping season at the southern foot of Hoosier Pass, and Donna was soaking it all in.


Phil Lindeman / plindeman@summitdaily.com |
Donna Ventura of Los Alamos, New Mexico casts on a portion of the South Platte River just outside of Alma on Sept. 16. The area is a favorite for local fly-fishing guides like Breckenridge Outfitters thanks to a variety of waterways and stunning fall scenery.


Get your waders wet this autumn with a guided trip through a local fly-fishing outfitter. The peak season runs from now until late October, with float trips available year-round.

Breckenridge Outfitters — Breckenridge, (970) 453-4135

Mountain Angler — Breckenridge, (970) 453-4665

Blue River Anglers — Frisco, (970) 668-2583

Cutthroat Anglers — Silverthorne, (970) 262-2878

The Colorado Angler — Silverthorne, (970) 513-8055

Big Ed’s Fishing Ventures — Dillon, (970) 389-1720