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"We are prone to speak of the resources of this country as inexhaustible; this is not so." - Theodore Roosevelt
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Elk River Fishing Information
Lower Section - near Steamboat Springs, CO
Near and dear to my heart, the Elk river is a place I grew up. If I were Brad Pitt, this would be my river that runs through it. Often overlooked due to the Yampa and multitude of stillwaters around Steamboat Springs to hunt trout, the Elk river provides a great opportunity to catch Rainbows, Browns, Cutbows, Cutthroats, Brook Trout and even some Whitefish. This makes it a box of chocolates kind of river and for someone with a short attention span like myself, a real joy to fish.
The real problem with the Elk river is the access. I’m blessed to have access to a large amount of private water, but without it, access is difficult. There are however, a few public sections that hold some great fishing opportunity along elk river road between steamboat and the town of clark. As you drive along the road, watch for little white signs on the trees that mark public access and find the nearest pull out and rig up and work down to the river. It’s a gambit whether nymphs, dry flies or streamers will work best, so I suggest fishing these sections with a dry-dropper rig or a double nymph river based on the day as you work upstream. When you are ready to head back to your car, stay on the river, tie on a stream and work the river back downstream with a large streamer. Something big and heavy to get down deep. I’ve caught some real monsters on this section, though most of the fish range in the 12-14” range. The avg size trout seem to fight harder than the big fish however and are as wild as they get often jumping feet out of the water to attempt to shake your hook. 5x is as small as you need on this river and 3-4x is recommended.
Please practice catch and release on this section and revive and return the fish as if they were your daughter. These fish and this river is very delicate and some years seems to be void of trout while others are the talk of legend. Fishing pressure is tough on the public sections and fish numbers suffer when careless anglers kill fish or don’t practice proper release practices.
Fish: Some Medium-Sized Fish
Best Techniques: Dries & Nymphs
Best Seasons: Spring - Fall
River Type: Medium Freestone
Fish Types: Rainbow Trout, Cutbow Trout, Brown Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Brook Trout, Whitefish
Dog Friendly: Yes but Leashed
Located in the Yampa/White River Basin near Steamboat Springs, CO
Fishable Seasons & Current Weather
The best seasons to fish this river are Spring - Fall. See the current weather reports for the next 5-6 days listed below for the nearest city.
wind: 6mph NW
H 55 • L 54
Weather from OpenWeatherMap
Knowing what flies to use is only have the battle. You have to know when the insects are active on the water and when it's likely the trout are feeding on them. Refer to our hatch charts below to understand when the insect categories and some of the possible hatches on the river.
Midges hatch year round, but their importance is from September through winter into April. During the warmer months, the trout often focus on larger insects as they are more active on the water like mayflies, caddis and stoneflies.
Aside from Blue wing olives, mayflies are active most commonly from May to August in Colorado. There are many different mayfly hatches found on most rivers and the most common are listed below.
Blue Wing Olive: September throut winter to April
Pale Morning Dun: June to Mid September
Colors: White, Yellow
Sizes: #14 - #20
Caddis hatch starting early in May and continue to the end of October.
Colors: Olive, Green, Yellow, Tan, Orange, Brown and Black.
Sizes: #10 - #20
We have some great stonefly hatches in Colorado and while not all rivers carry all species of salmonflies, you can often fish stonefly adult patterns with confidence from May to September. Start off in bigger sizes and get smaller till September hits (size 8 - 16)
Golden Stone: June to August
Colors: Yellow, Tan
Sizes: #8 - #14
Yellow Sally Stonefly: Mid June to August
Colors: Yellow, Tan
Sizes: #12 - #18
Terrestrials don't hatch since they are out of the water, but they can have importance starting in Mid April and ending in September.
These are the the top flies we sell for this river. Use the hatch chart above to know what flies you will want to have in your fly box during your adventure on the river and then select the flies here 30 days before your trip to get them at a great price. All of our flies are hand tied to each order to ensure quality and to keep our prices low for you.
Click on a fly below to select a size and color for purchase.
If you need an easier solution than selecting each fly and size, try out our top fly assortments for this river that will put all the flies you need in a single order for this river. We've already selected the flies we use in our fly box for this river including the sizes and colors and put them in these assortments so you can fish with the confidence that you have the right flies in your box.
Click on any of the pictures to see what flies, colors and sizes we recommend in each assortment.
Use these epic resources to get ready for your adventure. Whether you're planning your trip, learning your insects, improving your fishing with expert tips or getting detailed resources from the USGS streamflows or DoW, we got you covered to help you find the river and find the success you want.