The Cache la Poudre River, CO

There are rivers that live in the common mythos of fly fishing: the San Juan, the Battenkill, the Yellowstone. There also are our local rivers and spots that we hold dear and keep a bit more secret than we probably should. Then, there are those waters that could fit in both categories. Colorado has more than its fair share of both types.

The specific one on topic today that should fit into both categories but somehow is overlooked by most folks is the Cache la Poudre River that runs through Fort Collins.


I think we anglers always want to wade into traditional waters into which our heroes have plied. It doesn’t hurt that those rivers are often reeeeeeaaaaaaaally fishy to boot. I may just be a contrarian, but I really like the smaller, more local types of waters. It means getting to know either a place or someone well enough so that one will spill secrets.

With a river this long and varied, how could you ever learn all the secrets?

I managed to convince a friend of a friend to share some secrets since I didn’t have the time to get to know the river well enough myself. However, although I did exceptionally well because of it, I certainly didn’t need it to be successful.  That is not because I am a great angler but because “The Pooh-der,” as it is lovingly referred to by locals, is a fantastic river.

Remember a couple weeks back when we were locked in the very last vestiges of a too long winter? Well, CO had a couple of days of sunshine for me while I was there. But, that was all just a cruel trick.

A bomb cyclone hit the Midwest, the Great Plains, and parts of the Front Range. It went from a sunshiny 70 to mid-20s and snow covered overnight. The best part is that I snuck fishing in before and after the snow. And, caught fish during both sides of the weather change. I did so in the mornings and evenings after my work conference, as there are great sections within 30 minutes of town.

I cannot say it enough: This river is worth the trip to CO. And, not just as a side trip but as a destination itself.

The river has many different feelings to it. From a high mountain trickle to the town of Fort Collins, there are fish to be had over the 7,000′ that it drops along its course. It runs from some serious wilderness in Arapaho/Roosevelt National Forest territory but has easy access along a large portion of it via CO Highway 14.

It has tribs that are in designated wilderness areas and is Colorado’s only Wild and Scenic River. Let me repeat that: The Poudre is the only officially/nationally designated “Wild and Scenic” River in Colorado.


The Poudre has everything in it, including a tailwater that fishes well in the deepest winter and warmest summer. I saw some really big trout that I never managed to get to hand. And, that is because I couldn’t get them to commit to my patterns and one big brown breaking off my tippet in a ravaging fight. I hope he likes his new jewelry.

Before I hit the water on my last day, I hit St. Peter’s Fly Shop in Ft. Collins. They were super nice and hooked me up with some local intel and some of the aforementioned tippet that I ran out of on the trip.

On my last day, I had what I had been warned was a “zoo of a tailwater” section to myself. I hiked in through the fresh snow. I didn’t see anyone else on the river for hours. I caught some pretty fish and missed some more. It was pretty great.

Seriously, consider going there. I certainly plan on returning for a dedicated trip. It deserves a bit of mythos and, for me, the time to get to know it. In my opinion, the Poudre is worth your time, too.



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7 thoughts on “The Cache la Poudre River, CO

  1. Glad to see you had the chance to fish this. There’s so much great trout fishing in Colo. it would probably take a couple lifetimes to explore it all. There’s even some nice large mouth bass fishing in some small ponds on the way up from Denver. Yes, you have to be dressed prepared for extreme weather changes!

  2. Bob, I completely agree. I have the gudie book for the backcountry lakes in Colorado sitting on my shelve. I really hope I can explore even a single entry in it soon let alone a whole chapter.

    1. I did a lot of hiking into high elevation lakes when I lived there and the scenery and wildflowers alone are stunning.
      Make sure you are in good shape as the elevation and lower oxygen will beat you up if not acclimated. But totally worth it.

  3. Another great post, I fish the Poudre after work at least once or twice a week most of the year. It’s a beautiful underrated river with a lot of access and opportunities.

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