Seriously, what is with the names of these Colorado rivers?! Last time I shared my experience on the horribly named Frying Pan River, and today I’m sharing my experiences from another horribly named river; Cache La Poudre, which I will be forced to refer to as the Poudre for the duration of this post. As with the Frying Pan, I feel it is my duty to explain the name.
For those of you who don’t speak French let me translate for you. Cache La Poudre means “Hide the Powder.” As the story goes, a bunch of French fur trappers were in the area in the 1820’s and got caught in a blizzard. The trappers reportedly buried their gun power to save it from the elements. That was apparently enough to give this wonderful river a horrible name.
The Poudre flows from its headwaters in Rocky Mountain National Park 126 miles to its confluence with the South Platte River just East of Greeley, Colorado. It’s a big, long river so there is a lot to explore. I have now fished maybe 0.4% of it, so expect more posts exploring the rest of the river in the future.
The river is dominated by brown trout but you will catch the occasional rainbow and if you venture up toward the headwaters you’ll run into some greenback cutthroat and on rare occasions Mountain Whitefish, or so says the latest DNR fish survey.
The river has some small dams to control flow and protect against flooding but it does not have major dams or reservoirs along its route. As a result the upper portion of the river is deep, wide, and beautiful. It reminds me a lot of my favorite California River, the Kern River. But most importantly, the fishing is great.
The river is not Gold Medal but there are some very large fish lurking in its depths. Stories of monster brown trout well over 20″ are common so you know I’ll be back for more exploring. I didn’t land any monsters this time but I did catch a lot of fish. Nearly every fish I landed was in the 10”-15” range so even the average fish are good sized and put up a good fight.
When I fished the river, the area just had some storms and the water clarity was decreased. This meant that it was easier to get close to the fish without spooking them, but also meant it was hard for the fish to see my fly. If this is the case when you go use nymphs with a little flash to them. I tried a few different patterns but had the most success using Zug Bugs and Prince Nymphs. Stoneflies were also present but it seemed the fish were keying on the nymphs. I also had several fish rise to hit my orange strike indicator so you might have success using egg patterns as well.
With the flow up a bit from the recent rain and snow storms, the fish were sitting in calmer deeper water and were often stacked up in holes. If you get a bite or land a fish out of a pool give it a few more drifts before you move on because there will likely be several fish in each hole. I found a bunch of pools that produced multiple fish.
The river is very popular with fly fisherman and for good reason. However, it is a big river with a tremendous amount or easy public access. As a result I was able to find a great deal of solitude despite the number of anglers that were out on a beautiful Saturday. In my 8 hours on the water I only saw four other anglers and for the most part the other anglers respected my space and kept their distance.
The Poudre might be my new favorite river. True that’s likely because it reminds me so much of my old stomping grounds around the Kern River, but it truly is a great trout fishery. Accessibility is not an issue on the Poudre because the road along it has tons of pull offs and there is more public access than private land. The trout are abundant, healthy, and hungry. I can’t wait to venture back when the hatches really take off to do some dry fly fishing. And don’t worry I’ll share that adventure with you as well. All and all the Poudre is a great place to fish; it just needs a new name. Until next time, happy fishing!
– A. Egli