Wade in the Shade
nearly 40 miles of the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork rivers are designated Gold Medal waters, which basically means they support a lot of trout (rainbow, brown, cutthroat, and brook). Combine that with easy access and unspoiled, spectacular surroundings, and you have all of the ingredients for fly-fishing heaven.
“We’re lucky in the Roaring Fork Valley, because we have a big variety of water from a fishing standpoint—and every place is scenic,” says Chris Lemons, owner and lead guide for Aspen Flyfishing. “I can take someone who’s here for a week and show them something different every day.”
What’s the appeal of standing in waders in a river for hours? “People appreciate just getting that little bit of escape from everyday life,” he adds. “You get into this rhythm, and you’re not worried about work or dinner. Fishing gives you an excuse to be there.”
Go to a lake in the Aspen area, and chances are it’s stocked—thanks to Colorado’s generous program for anglers that releases around 90 million fish annually, plus around 350,000 trout dropped by small airplanes into backcountry lakes. A few suggestions: Maroon Lake, beneath some of the most picturesque peaks in the world, the Maroon Bells; Ruedi Reservoir (best for boat fishing), where you can catch some big ’uns, including kokanee salmon; and Grizzly Lake, perched at over 12,500 feet in a high-alpine cirque, which requires a bumpy four-wheel-drive ride followed by a 3.6-mile hike—a worthwhile journey if you score any strong, tasty native cutthroats in there.
Guided fly-fishing wade and float trips: Aspen Flyfishing (970-920-6886, aspenflyfishing.com); Taylor Creek Fly Shop, Basalt (970-927-4374, taylorcreek.com) also sells gear (see “Gear to Get”); Fryingpan Anglers (970-927-3441, fryingpananglers.com) also offers fishing on Ruedi Reservoir.