Weekend Report: Eleven Mile Canyon

Bryce said it best during our white knuckle drive on the way back through south park; “There’s nothing like a sun-up to sun-down day trip.” He’s right. Harnessing the power of anticipation, you can eagerly jump out of bed and fly out the door to make the meet up point on time, no matter how early it is. Meeting fishing friends for what is sure to be a good time is always a great way to start the day. On this particular adventure I was joined by FRA guides Cody Burgdorff and Bryce Daviess. It’s also always fun to introduce people to new water, and in this case, it would be Cody’s first time into Eleven Mile canyon.

As we came over Kenosha Pass, the sun was just touching the peaks towards Breckenridge, and it looked like it was shaping up to be a beautiful day. We figured we’d arrive about an hour before things started to really warm up, and hopefully some midge activity would kick off. As is typical this time of year, it was only 12 degrees when we turned off 285 at Lake George and started heading into the canyon. The forecast called for a quick warm-up to the mid-thirties, which would have been perfect, but the one thing we didn’t anticipate was the ferocity of the wind. It was relentless, even in the canyon. It was blowing when we stepped out of the truck, and only got worse as the day progressed.

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One thing you can always count on when fishing in the winter is that the fish will be concentrated in the deep, slow moving pools. We primarily concentrated on these areas and were rewarded with fish consistently throughout the day. Since the water is so slow moving and clear, it seemed like 7x and smaller really made a difference. The other rigging item that definitely made a difference was weight. The fish were glued to the bottom, and if you weren’t getting it down right in front of their face, they weren’t willing to play. As for flies, the most consistent items were worms and small eggs. We all tried a variety of tiny midge patterns and caught a few going that route, but they definitely weren’t as consistent as the high-protein menu items. There were occasional rises in shallow water, but the heavy wind seemed to keep the dry fly bite down.

A lot of people head towards Pueblo, Deckers or Cheeseman canyon when they want to get a full day of winter fishing in, but Eleven Mile canyon is an option that should be on your list as well. At about 2 1/2 hours from Boulder, it’s a little further hike, but you’ll be rewarded with a much quieter river, and plenty of fish willing to play ball. Take a look at the video below for some incredible underwater footage to see just how many fish are holding near the dam, it’s truly amazing.

The next time it’s looking like it’s going to be a decent winter day, load up the car, and give this tailwater a shot!