Hook up on the Taylor River Lodge ‘home water’. Photo AF

Fall in Colorado

The Rocky Mountains span two countries, cover 3,000 miles and offer incredible four-season recreational opportunities. Rocky Mountain fly tackle manufacturers (Simms, Scott Rods, Winston Rods, Fishpond, Umpqua, Abel Reels, Ross Reels, Lamson Reels, Outcast, Montana Fly Co, Smith, plus many drift boats, rafts, pontoons and rod vaults), guides/outfitters, fly shops and lodges are the backbone of the fly fishing industry.

And the fishing, well, it has been popular since the bamboo days, and I started road-tripping there in the Fenwick fiberglass days. There is something to catch year ‘round, but for eye-popping scenery and colors, the fall is amazing. Of the 100 tallest mountains in the Rockies, 78 are in Colorado. These photos come from just one watershed. The headwaters are near Crested Butte, Colorado, at 8,885 feet.

Classic stream fishing on a Gunnison River tributary. Short, afternoon BWO mayfly hatch. Photo AF

Small, trouty creeks flow south, joining the Taylor River and East River to form the Gunnison River, a 180-mile tributary of the Colorado River. In late September and October there are not many big bugs, like hoppers and stoneflies, but there are small and medium mayflies. Bring some nymphs like the Craven’s jujubeatis, Craven’s two-bit hooker, zebra midge and small pheasant tails. There are a lot of walk wade trips in the fall, plus some floats when flows allow. Don’t be surprised if your waders and boots are frozen if left outside overnight. Or, that a bugling elk keeps you awake at night. I haven’t mentioned streamer fishing, and it can be great. I just prefer 6X on a 14 foot leader. Keeping your eye on your fly or indicator is hard to do, with the brightly colored cottonwood trees and aspens competing for your attention. It is remarkable and peaceful. Then a moose walks into the creek..

Small, trouty creeks flow south, joining the Taylor River and East River to form the Gunnison River, a 180-mile tributary of the Colorado River.

The Slate Creek Valley, looking towards Mt. Crested Butte. Photo BOK
Angler Andy Banas, from Crested Butte, Colorado fishes after work in bold colors. Photo BOK
A tiny nymph fooled this Colorado, fall season brown trout. Photo AF
Canada geese fly over an angler on a meadow trout stream. Photo AF
Slate Creek, five minutes from downtown Crested Butte, Colorado. Photo BOK
Brown trout showing off their fall colors. In a month, these fish will be in spawning mode. Photos AF
Low angle iPhone 11 selfie. Photo BOK
Taylor River rainbow in champagne bubbles. Photo AF
Taylor River Lodge cabin. Photo BOK
Taylor River Lodge deck. Dinner with a river view. Photo BOK
Taylor River Lodge: buddies, big families, couples and kids, all welcome. Photos BOK
Gunnison River brownie. The morning temp was around 30F and the afternoon temp was around 70F. Photo AF
Farther downstream, the Gunnison River flows through a remote and magical canyon. Mules are your friend. Photos AF
Adventurous water and landscape. Best to go with an outfitter. Photo BOK
Checked this off my Bucket List. Left side photo AF, right side BOK
Elliot Manning finds the best line in one of many rapids. Photo BOK
Canyon browns, posing for the iPhone 11. Photos BOK
Afternoon nymph session on the Gunnison River. Photo BOK

Contributed By

Brian O’Keefe
Alex Fenlon

All of these photos were taken within a week of this issue’s launch. A testament to the spontaneous and nimble abilities of a digital platform. With good buddy Alex Fenlon of Crested Butte, Colorado we spent a week with Eleven Angling and Taylor River Lodge was our basecamp. Ultra-cozy cabins, great food, walk to fishing and knowledgeable guides, how can you go wrong? We fished meadow creeks, the Gunnison River right off the highway and deep, remote canyons. If this looks interesting to you, please give me a shout via email – Email Brian here.

While the fall is stunningly beautiful, other times of the year are just as rewarding. Not to mention backcountry, powder, snowcat skiing with my friends at Irwin Guides in Crested Butte.

Alex Fenlon was raised chasing bluegill, walleye and northerns Up North in Wisconsin. He is currently what he calls ‘a bad fly fisherman’ in Colorado, where he is Creative Director at Eleven Experience and dreaming of muskie.



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