Fly anglers frequently have Colorado on their radar. Even if you do not live in the Centennial State, you are exposed to fly fishing media in the form of photos, film, magazine content, and more – likely because Colorado’s prized trout waters are so easily accessible. Colorado is an easy flight from most U.S. states, and within 90 minutes of Denver, anglers can access the South Platte River, the Blue River, Rocky Mountain National Park, and much more. This easy access sometimes crowds rivers, leaving anglers longing for the picturesque settings that were imagined prior arriving to the paved river parking lot.
With some research, motivated anglers have been able to access lesser-known and backcountry waters that often fulfill goals of solitude, wild trout, and beautiful Rocky Mountain backdrops. For those who have found gold in these hills, their lips are sealed and getting any information about where to go is like prying a tennis ball from the jaws of a pit bull. The reason is obvious: Enough waters have been spoiled or overfished that what remains relatively untouched is sacred.
With that, the Flyfisher’s Guide to Colorado’s Lost Lakes and Secret Places by Mike Kephart ought to both please and frustrate anglers. The title alone ought to spark some fires, as anglers who have kept these “secrets” over the years will want to keep them kept. On the other hand, times have changed, and little time with a topographic map reveals every square foot of potential trout water on the planet.
Not wanting to wade into the waters of debate, let’s simply look at the book for what it is. The Flyfisher’s Guide to Colorado’s Lost Lakes and Secret Places is an excellent resource that offers to anglers what was previously unavailable in a single text. Kephart offers descriptions of nearly 70 lesser-known trout waters, and what accessing these waters entails. The elevation, hiking distance and difficulty, species, and additional aspects of each location are detailed, allowing anglers to properly plan for each trip without wasting endless hours researching then finding by trial and error that the terrain, hike, or waters were not what was expected. As most anglers spend most of their time working and value every minute of their weekend fly fishing time, Kephart’s book makes determining where to go and how to get there the easy part.
Years ago, Marty Bartholomew, the author of the Flyfisher’s Guide to Colorado, gave me some (deliberately vague) tips about how to find high mountain lakes with trophy trout that he did not include in his book. I appreciated the tips as well as his limited sharing of information. A couple of months later, when unanticipated terrain turned a trip to the backcountry into an unplanned overnight experience of chaos (including a bear encounter), I learned a fast lesson about amateur trip planning. While this does not mean that I should expect everyone I know to disclose their secrets, I could have benefited greatly with a book like the Flyfisher’s Guide to Colorado’s Lost Lakes and Secret Places.
My hope with such a book is that most of those who would make use of this book are those who are already trekking to such waters, and that the physical demands getting to many of these waters already deter the masses. Regardless, this book will certainly be a valued resource by those looking to get off the beaten path.
To check out more on the Flyfisher’s Guide to Colorado’s Lost Lakes and Secret Places, please click here.
– Tim Harden
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