Fishing High Mountain Lakes in Colorado


I like backpacking in the Colorado Rockies. I also like to fish. When I began backpacking, I chose trips which had lakes as the destination so I could do both. Some guys at work told me that I should use a Panther Martin #1 or #2, black with green dots. Others said I should use a Kastmaster.

Panther Martin and Kastmaster Lures
Panther Martin and Kastmaster Lures

I tried them and had some success, but many times, I could see the fish swimming in the clear mountain water, but they just ignored my lures. Man, that is frustrating! This went on for a while but one day I happened to be talking to  another co-worker and he told me that I should try flies. My immediate response was, I don’t want to haul a lengthy fly rod up into the mountains and also deal with the flies getting stuck in the willows, which typically surround the lakes. He proceeded to tell me of another way to fish with flies, called fly and bubble. With this setup, he told me, you can use a spin-cast reel, and a bungee bubble . . . . there’s now a confused look on my face. Then, he said,  tie a 6 foot piece of 2 lb line to the bubble and then tie the fly at the end.

So, I went out to the fishing store and found the bungee bubble.

Bungee Bubble
Bungee Bubble

I connect this to the snap swivel already tied to the 6-8 lb test loaded on my reel. Having the snap swivel makes it easy to switch between the bungee and fly setup and lures.

Next, I got some 2 lb Vanish to use as the leader. Easy enough.

Now for the flies. He gave me a whole list of flies to try and mentioned floating flies and nymphs and, if the fish are surfacing use flies and, if not try nymphs, and, and, etc., but when I got to the store I could only remember elk hair caddis and Adams. Turns out these are probably the most popular flies . . . little did I know. Anyway, I bought some of each . . . not those little tiny things you can barely see either.

So, at first, I bought the larger versions, but eventually discovered that I could catch trout on some of the smaller flies. It was little more challenging and I miss more fish and it still surprises me that you can hook a fish on those little hooks, let alone reel one in, but I do. It’s actually pretty exciting to see a swirl in the water near your floating fly, and then WHAM!, fish on.

Adams, stimulator and elk hair caddis flies
Adams, stimulator and elk hair caddis flies

Several years later I was backpacking with some other friends and one of the guys asked if I ever fish with nymphs. I remembered the fly and bubble guy had mentioned it but didn’t know what to get and never tried them. So, the next time at the fly shop I picked up some pheasant tail, hare’s ear and prince nymphs.

Pheasant-tail, Hare's ear and Elk hair caddis flies

Pheasant-tail, Hare’s ear and Prince nymphs

It took a little time to get comfortable with this new style of fishing, but my success rate has really increased and fishing the high-mountain lakes is a lot of fun. Sometimes, I just float the fly and sometimes I drag it really slow through the water. For the nymphs, I always drag them through the water.

Thanks for visiting my blog.


One comment on “Fishing High Mountain Lakes in Colorado

  1. […] I continued using my pheasant-tail nymph and bubble setup shown in my previous post, titled Fishing High Mountain Lakes in Colorado, and landed 4 really nice fish. Since we had no plans for a fire, I returned all of […]


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