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Hi there! I am an avid backpacker who loves to fly fish. I will be visiting Colorado for the first time this summer to fish the frying pan with a guide and would love to do some day hikes to high alpine lakes while I am there. I am specifically looking to fish for cutthroats in these lakes and am having a very hard time finding any info on good lakes to hike to. I understand most people keep their spots on the down low : ) I am very responsible, leave no trace, catch and release, barbless hooks and would love a point in the right direction as to where to look for these hidden gems. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I am staying in that area but plan to spend at least a week in Colorado. Driving from California : ) thanks for the replies so far
 

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I have no first hand experience with lakes out that way. However, if I had a guide lined up like you do, I'd drill that mofo about high lake recommendations for that area over email. I'm sure he or she will be happy to give you some advice and sell you appropriate flies to use as well when you get here (a really good idea).

Secondly, you can always search around that area you are staying on google maps, find lakes that have names, and google them. It's pretty common to find hiking blogs and photos of said named lakes. Sometimes they mention fish, sometimes they don't.

I would recommend concentrating on day tripping to high lakes to keep things simple and efficient. Not sure what altitude you're coming from, but sleeping at elevation sucks even for seasoned vets. Not to mention, level ground that isn't covered in rocks tends to be in short supply.

 

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Many lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park and Indian Peeks Wilderness areas have what you are looking for. I have backpacked to Spruce Lake (in RMNP) and caught several beautiful Greenback Cutthroats. You will need to reserve backcountry sites in RMNP beginning of March as they go reservable live during that time and fill up very fast.

Steve Schweitzer has books with maps, detailed info, pics, etc...of both the areas. Go to http://flyfishingrmnp.com/ to check them out. They are worth getting if you plan to do some serious backpacking high altitude fishing while in those areas.

There is also St. Mary's Glacier. It has some nice sized Brooke Trout in it, lovely takes on the dry.
 

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Cowgirl,

Check lakes in the Hunter Frying Pan Wilderness. This Wilderness is near Aspen and can be accessed by vehicle by driving to Basalt which is between Aspen and Glenwood Springs. Turn east in Basalt and follow the Frying Pan River to Reudi Reservoir. Go past the dam for several miles until the paved road becomes dirt. This road continues up to and over Hagerman Pass. You can drive Hagerman with a non-4X4 vehicle with some decent clearance. Hagerman is the Continental Divide. On the Pacific side (the Basalt side, there are some easy "drive to" near the summit. You will find Seller, Diemer and Ivanhoe lakes.

Unfortunately, there are very few day hike lakes with good cutthroats. If you will contact me by personal email, I will give you drive directions to a small lake with huge cutthroats.
 

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Cowgirl,

Check lakes in the Hunter Frying Pan Wilderness. This Wilderness is near Aspen and can be accessed by vehicle by driving to Basalt which is between Aspen and Glenwood Springs. Turn east in Basalt and follow the Frying Pan River to Reudi Reservoir. Go past the dam for several miles until the paved road becomes dirt. This road continues up to and over Hagerman Pass. You can drive Hagerman with a non-4X4 vehicle with some decent clearance. Hagerman is the Continental Divide. On the Pacific side (the Basalt side, there are some easy "drive to" near the summit. You will find Seller, Diemer and Ivanhoe lakes.

Unfortunately, there are very few day hike lakes with good cutthroats. If you will contact me by personal email, I will give you drive directions to a small lake with huge cutthroats.
Jeez I can find cuttys to 5lbs with a 4-5 mile hike! Thats easily a day trip??
 

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cowgirl,

It just came to me. Do some research on the Grand Mesa. It is the world's largest flat top mountain and contains maybe 50 lakes. Some are man made and some are natural. The Mesa is located west of Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction but closer to Junction and is between I-70 near Gr. Junction to the north and Montrose, CO to the south. You can drive to many of the lakes but there are a bunch requiring a fairly easy day hike.

My recommendation is to not go to the Mesa before August 1st unless you like mosquitos. The mossies are so big and so numerous, the Red Cross uses them to carry blood for emergencies. I'm not kidding, after the first of August, you will likely not find a mosquito anywhere but before that, watch out.

One other thing to be concerned about is turn over in lakes. I'm not an expert on this but I believe it's when warm upper water and lower cold water change places or visa versa. This stirs up algae and other vegetation from the bottom, which becomes suspended near the top. Some lakes, but not all on the Mesa, will have this so seriously, the lake will look green. You can still catch fish but for me, I'll pass on any lake with turn over anytime.

The drive to lakes are stocked regularly. The world record Splake (cross between a brook trout and a lake trout) came from Island Lake on the Mesa. The record is/was held by Del Canty. You can drive to this lake. Other drive to lakes that are good are, Neversweat, Cottonwood 5 and 7 and some other Cottonwood lakes. Cottonwood 5 has some large cutthroats. Fish where the creek feeds the lake.
 

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Don't mean to be a negative Nancy, Bucksnort, but Yes the Mesa has probably the worst mosquitoes of anywhere Ive ever fished.
 

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Years ago, I went to the Mesa during the first week in August. There was not a mosquito anywhere. A few years later, I made another trip in mid-June thinking there would be no mossies. We arrived late one night and left the next morning because of the skeeters so I came to the conclusion, the first of August is the earliest I would ever go. I made a third trip about four years ago in early August -not a mossie (as Bear Gryls calls them) to be seen anywhere.

We would all be better off if Noah had just kill those two mosquitos.
 

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Slayerfish,

Yeah, I can find 5 lb cuts by walking four miles around the race ways at a fish hatchery. You must be superman. The point I'm making is, five miles to some lakes ain't so easy. You know, some of these trails are upindicular, to quote Atz Lee. So, when you arrive at your destination, after a five mile walk one way and knowing you have another five miles out, you must have all of 30 minutes fishing time.
 

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I do fishing trips up to Avalanche lake, less than an hour drive from Aspen, but wouldn't be a day hike more of a 3 day trip. We ride in and fish the creek the rest of that evening the. The next morning ride to the lake and fish all day and ride back to camp, then usually the third day we ride out pretty early. Really nice cuttys up there though. High altitude lake



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