Right about now, you’re probably in need of some solitude, silence, and the peacefulness that spending time in a Rocky Mountain river or stream can provide. Aspen Snowmass is located in the Roaring Fork Valley, which is home to two stretches of “gold medal”-rated water. One of those streches is on the Roaring Fork River between Hallam Lake in Aspen and the Upper Woody Creek Bridge; the second is at the confluence of the Crystal River and Roarking Fork River. However, the entire valley and subsequent confluence river valleys: the Crystal River and Frying Pan River are a true haven for fly fishing aficionados.

If you’re new to fly fishing, the Roaring Fork River is an equally exellent spot to visit, with myriad outfitters available that can provide lessons and all your equipment needs. One of our favorites is Aspen Outfitting Co. located in Woody Creek. The concierge desk at the Timberline can help arrange all the details of your Aspen Snowmass fly fishing trip.

General Information about Fly Fishing

Fly fishing is a type of angling that requires both unique tackle and methods. An angler uses a long fly rod to cast a specially weighted opaque line that is tapered down to clear monofilament, to which an artificial lure known as a “fly” is affixed at the end. Flies are made of materials such as animal hair, feathers, string, and beads. They are “tied” in thousands of different patterns and sizes to represent insects and small batfish. An angler casts the fly line across the water, allowing the fly to fall and float with the current near a hungry fish. This sport is all about imitating nature, and when an angler matches the right fly with the proper presentation they will certainly be rewarded with a fish!

Species of fish can you find in our area include:

Rainbow Trout are primarily silver bodied with pink and green accents and irregular black spots. These fish can grow to be quite large, with local anglers reporting catches over 24″ long!

Brown Trout are known for their beautiful colors as well as aggressive nature. They have brown and gold bodies with bright pink spots and put up an extreme fight on the end of a line.

Brook Trout are a smaller variety of trout that are usually found in small high mountain streams. Averaging 2 lbs. or less, their unique markings along their back and head make them easy to spot in crystal clear water.

Cutthroat Trout are the prize of alpine lakes and offer a reward for an angler after a hike to higher altitudes. Their most identifying feature–and namesake–is a bright red band that runs along their gills. These fish can grow extremely large and are highly sought after by avid fly fishermen in the West.

Mountain Whitefish frequent lower sections of the Roaring Fork and Crystal Rivers and offer an exciting fight for an unsuspecting angler. They have long silver bodies, small mouths and can live up to 18 years!

Anglers young and old can enjoy this year-round sport, which serves as a relaxing pastime as well as an exciting opportunity to catch beautiful fish amongst a Rocky Mountain backdrop. The Roaring Fork Valley is home to several renowned fisheries and offer a fly-fishing experience like no other. Some sections of both the Roaring Fork and Frying Pan Rivers have even earned the Gold Medal Water” designation by the Colorado Wildlife Commission.  These are designating areas for superior trout fisheries.

Here are some other areas where you can enjoy fly fishing:

Roaring Fork River

Is a wild freestone river flowing from its beginnings high up Independence Pass all the way down to its confluence with the Colorado River down in Glenwood Springs. The flows of this river change with the seasons based on snowmelt and rainfall, but its trout population thrives due to plenty of aquatic insects and cool water flowing in from its tributaries.

Fryingpan River

Is renowned across the United States for its ample fish populations, beautiful scenery, and sizable fish. Much of it is rated Gold Medal Water, where you can find various species, Brown, Rainbow, and Cutthroat Trout. The Fryingpan River is between Ruedi Reservoir and the confluence with Roaring Fork River and features some of the best dry fly fishing in the country.

Crystal River 

Flows along HWY 133 into the town of Carbondale and can offer respite from busy rivers during the summer season. Fish here live more remote and thus more willing to take a fly when their neighbors on the Roaring Fork and Frying Pan are seeing more angling pressure.

Maroon Creek 

Is located 15 minutes away from Snowmass in the surrounding of Maroon Bells. It is possible to catch a small rainbow and brook trout in a beautiful setting.

Snowmass Lake

You must hike there by the Maroon-Snowmass trail. The views are amazing, especially in late summer. Cutthroat and rainbow trout may be found in the lake.

Weller Lake

This lake is located a short drive up Independence Pass, features a short hike, and is stocked with rainbow trout.

Cathedral Lake and American Lake

The hikes to these lakes wind steeply through aspen groves and along with scree fields. Those willing to carry fishing tackle up to the lakes will be rewarded with some of the largest cutthroat trout in the area.

Grizzly Reservoir

Located around 17 miles from Snowmass, at the Independence Pass (elevation 12.520 feet). At high elevation, there is a problem with food, so usually, fish gobble whatever you offer.