Fly Fishing the Blue River in Colorado

Where to Fly Fish on the Blue River CO (Maps, Flies and Technique)

The Blue River is a pet project for the anglers and Game and Fish Department in Colorado. Within the past decade, disease and drought have greatly impacted the quality of this fishery, but through the efforts of local conservation chapters and the state government, the Blue is back on the rise.

A Little Bit About the Blue River

The Blue River is a tributary of the Colorado River and flows for 65 miles. It starts at the Dillon Reservoir above Silverthorne and eventually meets the Colorado River in Kremmling. It’s a beautiful river that desperately needed attention!

Fly Fishing on the Blue River Colorado
Fly Fishing on the Blue River Colorado

Gold Hill Access

The Gold Hill Trailhead access below the Dillon Reservoir is a great place for anglers looking to not have to travel too far, but not have the crowds that you would find below the reservoir and in the town of Breckenridge. It’s a nice, flat section of water that’s perfect for nymphs and dry flies! It’s best to start here and fish your way upstream. Bring your small tippet, the trout can be spooky.

Guide Pro Tip: Colorado is a fly fishers paradise, the State manages “Gold Medal Rivers“. But with 100’s of miles to fish, it can be tough to find a new treasure. Let me help with this guide to Colorado’s best places to fly fish. Read 👉 Where to Fly Fish in Colorado

Blue River Campground- Kokanee Salmon Here

The Blue River Campground off of Highway 9 is about 10 miles north of Silverthorne. This section of water is one of the wider areas that anglers are going to find. Here, you can try streamers, nymphs and dries. Some of the boulders that fill the river are perfect places for holding trout. Feel free to wet wade your way through this entire section of river.

Green Mountain Canyon Access

The three miles of water below the Green Mountain Reservoir are open to the public. This stretch of water is a little more challenging to access due to the fact that the water runs through a canyon. The access requires a hike down a steep trail. However, when you do access it, you’ll be rewarded with some great fishing. Once you get to the river, go ahead and fish your way downstream!

Why the Blue River is Perfect for Fly Fishing

The Blue River is one of the more unique rivers in Colorado. At one point in its history, it was considered to be a Gold Medal Trout River. In recent years, that label has changed, but it’s still extremely productive. You can easily fish it from the road or right through the town of Silverthorne or find more seclusion as you head further north.

The water is always at a good temperature and fish are willing to feed at any time of year. It’s easy for novice fly anglers to fish, and can be very challenging depending on what you’re wanting. The diversity and consistent conditions make it a wonderful option.

What Stream Flow is Best for Fishing the Blue River

When you’re fishing below the Dillon Reservoir, you want to fish it around 150 CFS. Flow rates change regularly due to the change in the discharge of water, so you may fish it at 50 CFS one day and over 100 CFS another. However, if you’re able to fish around 150 CFS or below, you’re okay!

Stream Flow Blue River Colorado
Stream Flow Blue River Colorado – image USGS – link

More Colorado Hot Spots to Toss a Fly

What Kind of Fish Can You Catch on the Blue River?

On the Blue River, anglers are able to find Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, Snake River Cutthroats and Brown Trout. Since it is a tailwater fishery, the populations of these fish are generally very healthy! To ensure that the population is able to thrive, the Colorado Game and Fish Department stocks cutthroat and rainbow trout on a yearly basis.

Cutthroat Trout Fly Fishing
Cutthroat Trout Fly Fishing

Favorite Flies for the Blue River

Chubby Chernobyl Terrestrial Fly Pattern
Chubby Chernobyl Terrestrial Fly Pattern
Pure Midge Fly Pattern
Pure Midge Fly Pattern
Griffiths Gnat Fly Pattern for Midge
Griffiths Gnat Fly Pattern for Midge

Chubby Chernobyl- Size 8

Come late summer, you’ll find that terrestrial patterns are the perfect option. You can fish them alone or at the top of a dry-dropper rig. Either way, you’re going to catch fish. Let hopper patterns be your first choice, but ants and beetles will also work.

Pure Midge Larva- Size 22

Midge hatches occur year-round on the Blue River. It doesn’t matter if you’re fishing in the winter or the summer, a small midge nymph is going to work extremely well. Nymph rigs are always productive and the Midge Larva could always work as the bottom fly.

Griffith Gnat- 22

If you’re fishing in warm weather or a large hatch, you can almost guarantee that a Griffith Gnat is going to work. They fool trout and look like many other midges that may be happening at the time. Pair this with a 5x or even 6x tippet. It’s an extreme finesse rig.

Hatch Chart for the Blue River

Fly NameSizeStart DateEnd Date
 Blue Winged Olive 12-20 April 1October 1
 Caddis 14-22 June 1 September 31
 Golden Stonefly 12-20 June 1 August 31
 Green Drake 16-24 July 1 August 31
 Midge 18-24 January 1 December 31
 Mysis Shrimp 10-18 January 1 December 31
 PMD 16-20 July 1 August 31
 Red Quill Mayfly 14-20 July 1 August 31
 Attractors6-12 April 1 October 31
 Terrestrials 6-10 July 1 September 31
 Streamers 2-8 April 1 November 31

Fly Rod and Reel for the Blue River

For most anglers, a 9-foot 5-weight fly rod is plenty. The rod is long enough to make casts and high stick your way through most of the seams and runs you’ll find on the Blue River. Some anglers choose to use 4-weight 8’6” rods if they want a little more fun with the fight.

In terms of your leader, most are okay with 3x or 4x. It’s plenty strong for the fish you’re going to find. If you’re fishing nymphs or dry flies, most anglers use somewhere between 4x and 6x. Some of the fish below the dams are spooky, so you’re going to need to stay as hidden as possible!

Orvis Clearwater 5 wt 9 foot Combo
Orvis Clearwater 5 wt-9 foot Combo

The Perfect Fly Rod Combo for Colorado

Orvis originated in the fly fishing business. The Orvis Clearwater Combo is perfectly balanced and comes with everything except flies. It’s so easy to cobble together an outfit that just doesn’t cast right. No worries with that using the Clearwater Fly Rod Combo.

Guides and Fly Shops

Cutthroat Anglers in Silverthorne, Colorado is a full-service guide shop that offers both wading and floating trips on the Blue River. If you’re traveling through or staying in Silverthorne, make sure you book your trip through them.

Mountain Angler in Breckenridge offers full guided trips for anglers of all levels. It’s located in Breckenridge and has great information on the Blue!

Last Cast for the Blue River

The Blue River is proof of what can happen when passionate anglers and the government work together. While it hasn’t been a perfect recovery, it is on the rise and anglers are once again getting to fish one of the most beautiful rivers in the entire country.

Danny Mooers is a high school English teacher in Arizona with a love for fly fishing. Growing up in Minnesota gave him the opportunity to experience all types of fishing and grow his skills. After living out in the Western United States for several summers in college, his fly fishing obsession grew. Having the opportunity to share in his passion for fishing through writing is a dream come true. It’s a lifelong hobby and he strives to make it understandable for people of all skill levels

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