Colorado River. Courtesy Keith McHugh

Colorado River.
Courtesy Keith McHugh

UPDATED: April 8, 2016

High Water

After abundant snow, the rivers up here in the high country can be a bit full. However, the top local shops — Breckenridge Outfitters and Mountain Angler — know where to go when water runs high. So why not add this to your list of things to do while you are up here enjoying the perfect summers of the Colorado High Country?

Both fly shops staff a great collection of overly-knowledgeable guides ready to provide their expertise to both experienced anglers and beginning anglers. Your guides and outfitters provide you with everything you need for your time on the water. Fishing licenses, rods & reels, waders, boots, water and drinks will all be taken care of. Both shops offer very similar packages and here is what to expect.

Local guide Jeff Cross captures the memories of a great trip. Courtesy Keith McHugh

Local guide Jeff Cross captures the memories of a great trip.
Courtesy Keith McHugh

Two Hour Intro to Fly Fishing

Two Hour Introduction Trips are geared for beginners and those looking to start a new passion. These provide a thorough introduction to the elements of angling for trout with a fly rod in a laid back & fun environment. You’ll get instruction on the basic techniques of casting a fly-rod with demonstrations of several methods of casting while your guides assist with techniques to help perfect your form. Learn basic knots and all about the types of insects we have in this area and the different types of tied flies we use to imitate them. Expect more talking, demonstration, casting and, yes, some time on the water fishing.  The focus here is more on learning how to fly fish.

Half Day Fishing Trip

A Half Day Trip is more geared to those wanting to spend a bit more time on the water in the pursuit of trout while learning how to cast to fish with a fly-rod. These trips will also include some more intensive instruction at the onset of the trip covering similar topics to the 2 hour, but going into more detail. A lot of guests do the half day to get the basics down and have the opportunity to hone their skills.

An angler anticipating the strike during a heavy caddis hatch on the South Fork of the South Platte. Courtesy Keith McHugh

An angler anticipating the strike during a heavy caddis hatch on the South Fork of the South Platte.
Courtesy Keith McHugh

More time and instruction is spent on the water learning about presentations of flies and reading water while actively searching for feeding trout. Our local guides generally prefer to get a bit out of town for these types of trips.

The draw here is to get you out to a more remote area in an effort to get to some water with a bit less pressure and to provide better fishing and some privacy. Half days average four hours on the water; the drive is not considered time on the water, so sit back and enjoy meeting your guide and the scenery as you are on the road.

All Day Fishing Trips

Full Day Trips are best suited for those who might have had some experience or some exposure to the basics, or those who are very quick learners. Anglers who opt for this trip are looking for the full-throttle guided trip experience anticipating exceptional customer service and valuable personal time with a local expert on the areas you are fishing. The morning will be some instruction to fine-tune casting and presentation, and exposure and insights into the water you are fishing.

John Perrizolo setting up for "chili dog" hole on the Upper Colorado. Dogs are welcome, just talk to your guide. Courtesy Keith McHugh

John Perrizolo setting up for “chili dog” hole on the Upper Colorado. Dogs are welcome, just talk to your guide.
Courtesy Keith McHugh

As the day continues, your guide will offer a break and provide a nice relaxed riverside lunch to allow you to take some time to enjoy the scenery and just catch up from what everyone experienced through the morning. After a relaxing lunch, it’s now time to finish the day strong, and if the fish are hungry every angler should have the opportunity to catch some of our reclusive, picky trout.

The two options here are whether you want do a walk & wade trip, or if you want to do a float trip. Float trips allow you to fish from a classic drift boat or whitewater/ fly-fishing equipped raft. Our local shops float the legendary Colorado River. This beautiful river is famous for our great trout populations, a springtime Giant Salmonfly emergence, and amazing mayfly hatches throughout the summer. This scenic freestone river is also home to some amazing trout and each cast is an opportunity to find them. You may not get a bite, you might hook an average fish, or you could hook up with the next state-record trout.

Lake Float Fishing Trip

Legendary local guide John Perrizolo coaching a client on a recent lake trip on Spinney Mtn. Reservoir. Courtesy Keith Mchugh

Legendary local guide John Perrizolo coaching a client on a recent lake trip on Spinney Mtn. Reservoir.
Courtesy Keith Mchugh

Another great option to consider is a Lake Float trip: These trips are our local fly shops “ace in the hole”  for early season trips when our rivers are un-runnable or un-fishable in rafts or boats. This high water run-off is also generally unsafe for walk & wading trips until the melt tapers off. Many of our lake trips have experienced exceptional numbers of really large, strong, and hungry trout.

Seasonally offered,lake trips are kind of like the chef’s special, and trust me, they are worth asking about. They generally are offered from Spring to about mid-July. After that, the water warms and lake fishing drops off quite a bit. The rivers, however, are now stabilizing and your local guides will be looking to get you out on the moving water.

Breckenridge Guide Shops and Local Insight

Breckenridge Outfitters and Mountain Angler, both based out of Breckenridge, provide these and other packages with options to handle and provide for whatever an angler’s needs might be. Our world class fishing destinations in and around Breckenridge can be custom-tailored to make your day on the water the most fun, memorable, relaxing and at times truly exhilarating day ever. From the total beginner, the novice, to the well seasoned expert angler, the right time, the right place, and the right flies, our area is on the map for storied adventures seeking trout on a fly-rod.

An angler's surprise after hooking a twenty incher on a lake trip. Spinney Mtn Reservoir. Courtesy Keith McHugh

An angler’s surprise after hooking a twenty incher on a lake trip. Spinney Mtn Reservoir.
Courtesy Keith McHugh

Your guides all are working hard to provide you the best service and opportunities to have a great day on the water and in the outdoors of this beautiful Colorado.

Some of the fish you caught during the day might have been caught on flies personally tied by your guides. Your guide pays for the fuel and the vehicle to get you on the water. The equipment you are using on your trip is also paid for by your guide. The boat you are floating in is your guide’s personal boat. Sharing our passion for the outdoors, the catching & releasing of wild trout around here and exposing our guests to this beautiful sport is what we live for. To share this experience with others is ultimately why we do it. Let the guides know you appreciate their efforts.

But above all, have a great time fishing (and catching!), whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned fly fisherman looking to find the best fishing holes.

Read more about fly fishing in Breckenridge

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About The Author

Sometimes referred to as the toughest guy to get hold of because he is mostly in areas without decent cell coverage. Keith McHugh is out there, and his knowledge of the outdoors and sense of humor will prove it. No matter if it is telemark powder skiing, hunting or fishing throughout Colorado, Keith’s passion about the mountains and all things outdoors is contagious. He obsessive about turkey, waterfowl and upland bird hunting, as well as archery hunting for elk. He has fly-fished most of his life, and has held his professional Orvis Endorsed instructor and fly-fishing guide credentials for almost ten years. As a guide for Breckenridge Outfitters, he challenges himself to provide a mix of adventure, amusement and a memorable experience for his guests. It might be instructing/guiding the first timer to their first trout on a fly-rod on a walk wade trip, or guiding well traveled anglers with years of experience on a float trip. He guides on unique and legendary rivers like the Arkansas, Blue, Colorado, South Platte, Williams Fork, Eagle, and private water along Troublesome Creek. Stillwater float trips include fly-fishing Antero and Spinney Mountain Reservoirs in South Park which can produce some amazing results. The private access to Duck Lake at the summit of Guanella Pass for the rare and beautiful Colorado native Greenback Cutthroat trout rates as one of his favorites. Being a transplant from the south, “Georgia is still on his mind” even though he has lived in Colorado for fifteen years. Keith resides in Breckenridge with his hunting lab Wigeon.

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