Poudre River
Mitchel Little

Cache La Poudre River

Difficulty Intermediate
Ideal Days To Fish 11/25 through 11/28

Weekly Report

Report DateNov. 24, 2022

After increasing at the end of last week, flows on the Poudre have largely settled down. We are continuing to see noticeable intraday swings, however, which can be attributed to ice at the gauging station rather than an outright change in flow. As winter draws nearer, ice accumulation along the banks is really starting to take its toll, especially on the upper stretches and through the canyon. With this in mind, we'd encourage you to seek out stretches with extended periods of sun exposure as well as to favor the lower sections and elevations. Another option would be to hit the north fork, which is a tailwater, where ice is less of a concern and you can fish year round. On the plus side, mild weather in the coming days should lead to more open water and stall any ice build up so get out there while you can. Regardless, there is still plenty of water to fish and trout are feeding regularly during peak heat hours. The mornings have been and will continue to be slow from a productivity perspective so there is no hurry to get to the water. Let it sit in the early hours and hit the water after 10 am when things start to warm up. Nymphing with simple searchers or attractors at the lead like a Hare’s Ear, Flashback PT, Perdigon, Rainbow Warrior or red Copper John to one or more smaller midge larva or pupa imitations have been our preferred starting point as of late and should continue to produce consistent results. However, an attractor at the lead to smaller searchers has been effective as well. Fish the deep and slow water most of the day. However, during the warmest hours of the day you’ll want to lighten the load and hit the water closer to the surface with an emerger. This will be especially relevant Friday (11/25) through Monday (11/28) as the weather should moderate and lead to an actively feeding trout. The slower riffles, outer seams, transitions and tail outs are all good options during this time. Otherwise, a hopper dropper or dry fly rig have been and will continue to be effective when picking apart the nooks and crannies, especially during the warmest hours of the day. Your hopper or dry fly will act more as an indicator, but don’t be surprised if you get some looks and be prepared to set the hook.

Recommended Flies

River Flow

Flow Region

Detailed River Info

Background

The Poudre River, or Cache La Poudre, gets its name from the local legend dating back to the 1830’s when a crew of French explorers made their way along the river and found themselves in a blinding snowstorm. In order to cross the river and make their way to safety, they were forced to “cache la poudre”, French for stash the powder, leaving behind their heavy gunpowder kegs. The story goes that the explorers returned the following spring to find the gunpowder undisturbed. Subsequent travelers heard the story and the name stuck.

The Poudre is a freestone river that originates in Rocky Mountain National Park. From the headwaters, the river travels North until it reaches the small unincorporated town of Kinikinik, in western Larimer County, before turning east making its way  through the Poudre Canyon toward Fort Collins. Here you’ll find a combination of fast runs and riffles as well as some wide and comparatively slow water. While the fishing is great near the park, for the sake of this report, we’ll be referencing the stretch through the Poudre Canyon. In general, you should manage to find some solitude most of the year. However, the summers are particularly busy and you’ll find yourself sharing the water with other outdoor recreationalist via raft, kayak and tubes. 

Angling

The Poudre is relatively forgiving and beginner friendly. While a number of sections come with heavy brush, it isn’t hard to find open water and is easily accessible from the banks. It is home to a strong population of brown and rainbow trout, but has been known to hold a few cutbows and greenback cutthroats the closer you get to the park. While you can fish the Poudre most of the year, the late spring, early summer and fall present the best conditions. In the winter months, barring extreme cold, you can fish the lower canyon as the water is deeper and less prone to freezing. The Poudre experiences the standard Colorado hatches with midges hatching throughout the year, mayflies in the late spring through fall, and caddis and stoneflies in the summer. While you can’t go wrong with a standard double or triple nymph rig, the late summer and early fall present some great hopper dropper opportunities. Additionally, streamers are particularly effective in the spring and fall. 

River Access

While the lower and upper canyon present slightly different terrain, the Poudre is one of those rivers where you really can’t go wrong in terms of access points. There are a number of great public access points off of Highway 14 and we strongly encourage you to start exploring. If you are coming from Fort Collins, head north toward Laporte on Hwy 287 until you reach Hwy 14. From there, drive up the canyon until you find a suitable pull off. In general, the further you’re willing the drive, the fewer crowds you will see and the less pressured the trout will be