Brook trout and lake trout are two of the more popular fall spawning fish species. Despite their names, they belong to the char family.
There are few fish in Colorado prettier than a male brook trout in full spawning color or larger than the predatory lake trout. Both are a lot of fun to catch and can be fooled by the same fly patterns used for the more popular rainbow trout and brown trout.
Anyone wanting to pursue brook trout need not look far. My favorite places within reasonable driving distance are the Tarryall Creek tailwater below Tarryall Reservoir, Trout Creek along Colorado Highway 67 and Monument Lake. A hopper/dropper rig with a parachute hopper and tungsten bead pheasant tail works great in small streams. Small black and olive leech patterns such as Wooly Buggers will produce in streams and lakes when fish are protecting spawning beds.
Lake trout can be caught locally at Rampart Reservoir near Woodland Park and atCrystal and North Catamount reservoirs on Pikes Peak. The Pikes Peak Highway is open year-round but can close due to inclement weather, so call your local fly shop for a report or visit pikespeak.us.com before going. For those hoping to land trophy-sized lakers, take a longer drive to Blue Mesa Reservoir or Taylor Reservoir. Blue Mesa is the site of the current state record for lake trout with a fish weighing 50.35 pounds; Taylor is the site of the previous record.
Locating these fish can be tricky, but good places to start are anywhere near the inlets of feeder creeks or anywhere there is structure along a gravel bottom in 2-6 feet of water. It makes life unpleasant when trying to cast, but I prefer to go on windy afternoons. Look for the side of the reservoir where the wind is pushing the waves and fish that turbulent water.
Waves crashing against the bank stir up debris and predatory fish know this is an ideal place to find crawfish or smaller trout species that make for an easy meal. Throwing streamers during this time can be deadly. White or brown Meatwhistles, Slumpbusters, chartruese and white Clouser Minnows, and black or olive Sculpzillas all will do the trick. Anglers wanting to fish with a more tradition nymph rig should bring egg patterns and large bead head pheasant tail or hares ear nymphs.
Many are guilty of fishing in the same places for the same fish species each year. A great way to avoid the fall crowds and still enjoy some amazing scenery is to pursue these char. Anglers who don't care if they land that monster fish and would rather catch tons of beautiful fish should give brook trout a try; and anyone who goes by that motto "the tug is the drug" should go armed with streamers looking for lake trout. Tight lines!
Kleis is a professional fly-fishing guide for Angler's Covey Fly Shop. Read his columns on the third Thursday of each month in Out There. To schedule your fly-fishing adventure, email firstname.lastname@example.org.