Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Fly Fishing On The Blue River In
The Blue River is a tailwater of Dillon Reservoir. This
stream is only about an hour and a half drive from
the city of Denver. In spite of a lot of pressure at
times, the fish population remains good and thanks
to the Mysis shrimp, the size of the fish run huge. Fly
fishing the Blue River is always exciting because you
have the opportunity to hook a very large trout.
The Blue River begins near the town of
Breckenridge, Colorado. It flows for about ten miles
into the Dillon Reservoir. The Blue River Tailwater is
a bottom release that flows for twenty miles into
Green Mountain Reservoir. Below Green Mountain,
the stream flows into the Colorado River.
The Blue River freestone stream near the
Breckenridge area is very different from the other
sections of the river. The trout probably average
about ten to fifteen inches. They consist of browns,
rainbows and brook trout.
The Blue River below Green Mountain Reservoir has
a lot of private water that rarely sees pressure. Public
access is limited to right below the dam and much
further downstream near the confluence of the
The section of the Blue River that is directly below
Lake Dillon Dam can be fished year-round. It doesn't
freeze over. This is one of the best winter fishing
locations in the state of Colorado. During the spring,
summer, and fall this section of the river can become
crowded. The further downstream you go, the less
anglers you will usually see. There are several public
access points along state Highway #9.
Fly fishing the Blue River is not all trout fishing.
During the Fall Kokanee salmon come up from Green
Mountain Reservoir providing some great fly fishing
Catch and Release regulations have helped make
the Blue River tailwater below Dillion a better fishery.
The average rainbow probably runs around sixteen
inches in the Blue River. Brown trout or the brook
trout don't average quite that large, but all three
species can grow very large. Ten pound rainbow
trout are occasionally
If your not looking at the dam, you would find it
difficult to tell you were fishing a tailwater most of the
time when your fly fishing the Blue River. Often, it
looks and acts more like a freestone stream than a
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Recommended Tackle & Gear
5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 & 12 ft., 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 71/2
ft., 3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rods:
Perfect Fly Superb Five or Ultimate Six
For 5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
You can catch trout from this tailwater
anytime of the year.
Low winter discharges provides excellent
fishing all winter long.
Releases to accommodate the spring runoff
can be heavy at times in May and June.
Blue River Fly Fishing Guide:
If you are seeking the huge trout that dine on
the Mysis Shrimp that get through the dam
occasionally, you need to concentrate on the
upper couple of miles below the tailwater. The
shrimp don't get much lower downstream than
about two miles. For that reason, most of the
huge size trout are caught in the upstream
portion of the tailwater near the dam.
That doesn't mean that large trout are not
caught farther downstream. There have been
some big brown trout caught in the river
above Blue Mountain Reservoir when they
make their fall spawning migration upstream
out of the lake.
The stream doesn't look much like a trout
stream around Silverthorne. You can actually
cast to trout from a paved shopping center
parking lot. Don't let that fool you though
because that is where most of the large trout
Many anglers, including myself, had rather
pass up the large trout below the dam for the
more average sized trout downstream where
the river changes its appearance from its
urban look to a very scenic background. I just
don't like the ideal of fly fishing under an
If you fish the upper water below the dam,
you will most likely need to use a nymph to
catch fish. Dry fly fishing is usually not very
productive in that area. You can use
imitations of the mysis shrimp, of course,
and you may find they are very effective at
times. On the other hand, most anglers
usually have less than satisfactory success
Around the first of June the discharges are
usually increased to allow for the melting
snow. You will need to keep a close watch
on the flows from for the month of June.
Hatches of Green Drakes, Dark Red Quills,
Pale Morning Duns, several species of
caddisflies and some stoneflies occur
mostly on the lower sections of the river.
Dry fly action usually gets good around the
middle of July.
Don't forget the spawning brown trout and
the Kokanee Salmon that move upstream
out of the Green Mountain Reservoir during
the fall. This is a good time to catch some
nice browns and battle with the salmon.
Nymphs and streamers will work for the
salmon during the spawning run.
Blue River Hatches and Trout Flies:
Our information on aquatic insects is based
on our stream samples of larvae and nymphs,
not guess work. We base fly suggestions on
imitating the most plentiful and most available
insects and other foods at the particular time
you are fishing. Unlike the generic fly shop
trout flies, we have specific imitations of all the
insects in the Blue River and in all stages of
life that are applicable to fishing. If you want
to fish better, more realistic trout flies, have a
much higher degree of success, give us a
call. We not only will help you with selections,
you will learn why, after trying Perfect Flies,
92% of the thousands of our customers will
use nothing else. 1-800-594-4726.
The hatches are few and far between below
the dam. Midges are the prime insect to focus
on in the tailwater for the first two or three
miles downstream of the dam. Of course you
also have the mysis shrimp which are
concentrated below the dam for the first two
or three miles. Click Here to see the Hatch
As with most trout streams the most important
aquatic insect is the Blue-winged Olives or
baetis species. That's because of the overall
length of time they hatch. They are
bi-brooded, hatching in April and about the
first two weeks of May and then again in
September until about the middle of October.
Pale Morning Duns would be the next most
important insect. They hatch starting about
the first of June. The hatch last through the
month of July. The water levels can affect the
benefits of the PMDs during the early part of
During the same time period, starting a week
or two after the PMDs, you will find Dark Red
Quills hatching. The PMDs tend to hatch in
the slow to moderate sections of water and
the Dark Red Quills tend to hatch from the
faster sections of water. The Red Quill hatch
last until about the end of July.
The mayfly that gets the most attention on the
Blue River is the Western Green Drake. It
starts to hatch about the same time as the
PMDs and the Dark Red Quills or around the
first of June. It is shorter in duration and only
last a couple of weeks, so it isn't exactly an
easy hatch to catch. You will find the Green
Drakes in the more moderate sections of
water along with the PMDs.
The Little Yellow Stoneflies most anglers call
the Yellow Sallies, hatch during July and
August. Imitations of both the nymphs and
the adults can be very effective. There are a
few Golden Stoneflies in the lower section of
From about the first of June until the middle
of August you will find several species of
caddisflies on the Blue River. The majority of
them are net-spinning species of the
Hydrosyche genus, or Spotted Sedges.
There are hatches of their Little Sisters
starting about three weeks later than the
Spotted Sedges start coming off.
Near the faster water you will find plenty of
Green Sedges. The nymphs of these
caddiisflies (Green Rock Worms) work great
in this river. There are several other species
of caddisflies. Starting in late April you will
find some Brachcentrus or American
Grannon activity in the lower sections of the
river. This hatch can produce some great
dry fly action. The Short-horned Sedges
provide another good hatch of small black
caddisflies during June and July.
Terrestrial insects become important in late
June. Fish can be taken on imitations of
beetles, ants and grasshoppers up until the
first frost which usually occurs around the
end of September. Don't forget to have a
selection of streamers, especially if you plan
on fishing the fall salmon run out of Green
We always recommend our own "Perfect
Flies" because we think they are the best
flies you can purchase. We have specific
imitations of everything the trout eat in the
Blue River. We encourage you to check
them out. We know you will be satisfied with
Summer is a great time for fly fishing Blue
River due to the cold water releases and
aquatic insect hatches.
Large brown trout and Kokanee Salmon
move out of Blue Mountain Reservoir
upstream into the Blue River to spawn in
Thumbnails: Click to enlarge
Thumbnails: Click to enlarge
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (email@example.com)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.
All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $50 are shipped via
Headlines: The discharges are
low and the resulting stream levels
are low in all section of the river.
Brown trout are in the pre-spwan
mode and some actually
spawning. Please don't wade
through the redds. Stay as hidden
as possible by dressing to match
the background. Make longer
presentation using longer, ligher
leaders and tippet. Click the above
link to the weekly updated fishing
report for the latest information on
strategy and flies.
We have Perfect Fly
website pages on
each of these other
fine trout streams.
descriptions of the
location, species of
fish, a fly fishing
guide, a fly fishing
report, hatches and
flies, fly fishing gear
USGS stream data,
much, much more
Map of the Blue River
10/16/15 Right now, conditions are great with good to wade levels and great fall weather.
There is rain in the forecast every day for the next week, and this will probably change things.
Keep a close check on the discharges from the dam. The Blue is a tailwater but most of the
stream acts much like a freestone river. Terrestrials have started working.
10/23/15 The stream levels are good and the weather much colder than it has been. There is
some snow falling right now. There is a chance of rain about every day next week.
Blue-winged olives have started to hatch again and October Caddis are at the peak of their
hatch. Be sure to check the stream levels as they change with the discharges.
10/30/15 Great conditions exist right now and few anglers are taking advantage of it. Good
stream levels and good cool fall weather equals good fishing. October Caddis are still
hatching. Blue-winged olive hatches are getting stronger each day. Of course, they are best
on cloudy, overcast days. Brown trout are in the pre-spawn stage and taking streamers well.
11/06/15 It has finally turned a little chilly in trout country. Dont' forget that the bottom
discharge from the lake keeps the water at an almost constant temperature. The further
downstream you fish, the colder the water will get from now own. This is a great time to fish
the upper part of the Blue tailwater. Midges and BWOs are the main insects to imitate.
11/13/15 This is one of the best fishing destinations during cold weather you will find in the
state of Colorado. The water temperature from the tailwater discharge from Dillion Reservoir
stays near the same temperature year-round. You can catch trout on the coldest days as long
as you near the upper part of the river. Midges are reduced to midges and Blue-winged olives.
11/20/15 Stream levels are back to normal for this time of the year. The water is a little
warmer near the discharge from the dam. We suggest you fish the upper part of the river.
Blue-winged olives and Midges will hatch, especially when it is cloudy. Brown Sculpin
streamers have been catching some very big post-spawn brown trout.
11/27/15 It is snowing as I write this and will continue through Sunday. Midges hatch good
during a snow but I guess it is a little difficult to see our Adult Cream midge on the water since
it is about the size of a snow flake. MIdge larva and pupa, fishing in tandem, is what we
recommend at this time. The pupa fly should be about a foot or more above the larva.
12/04/15 This is one of the best destinations in the state of Colorado during the cold winter
months. The upper river tailwater is easy to access and the warmest water you will find during
the winter months. Midges are the main aquatic inset you need to be imitating at this time of
the season. The Brown and White Belly sculpin streamers have been catching some of the
12/11/15 The Blue River is in good shape and the discharges have been good almost all of
the time. We do recommend fishing as close the discharge versus a long distance
downstream. The further downstream you fish, the colder the water is. Notice that Winter
Stoneflies are hatching. Midges are still the most important insect to imitate.
12/17/15 The best place to fish at this time is just below the dam. It should change
temperature wise for the first two or three miles but since it shouldn't be crowded, that would
be much better than the very cold water with ice on the banks downstream much further. They
are continuing to run some water through the dam and it is a little high but you can cast from
12/25/15 Merry Christmas and happy New Year to everyone. The Blue River tailwater is a
good wintertime destination for a fly fisher. Fish within two or three miles of the dam using
midge larva and pupa in tandem or Winter stonefly nymphs. The water is warmer in the upper
sections due to the bottom discharge. Mysis Shrimp as food is way overdone, by the way.
01/01/16 The uppermost section of the Blue Mountain tailwater at Silverthorne is the choice
location to fish during the coldest weather. This coming week isn't going to be very cold and
there is no chance of snow or rain for a big change. These are ideal conditions. Midges and
Winter stoneflies are the flies you need.
01/08/16 The tailwater below Dillion is as good of a destination as there is anywhere in the
state of Colorado right now. You can access the water even though it has been a winter storm
and lots of snow. You can catch trout within the first three or four miles of the discharge as
long as you use tandem midge rigs or Winter stonefly nymphs.
01/15/16 There is snow forecast every day for the next week but the weather is warmer than
last week. Conditions are good for this time of the year. Fish as near the bottom discharge
from Dillion Reservoir as you can. The water will be warmest there.
01/22/16 Fish right below Lake Dillion at Silverthorne. Midges, both cream and red (blood)
with the larva and pupa fished in tandem will work. You can fish this with or without an
indicator but you need 6x or smaller tippet. The bottom discharge keeps the water from
01/29/16 Fish behind the shopping center at Silverthrone. Midges, both cream and red, pupa
and larva imitations fished in tandem, and winter stonefly nymphs are the best options. There
isn't any mysis shrimp there, so don't waste your time with them.
02/05/16 From an angler's comfort standpoint, the coming week is looking good. There's no
rain or snow in the forecast. From a "catching fish" standpoint, the water will still be cold and
you will need to fish midge imitations near the Lake Dillion dam tailwater.
02/12/16 This almost reads like an identical repeat of last weeks report but even thought the
weather is going to be much warmer, the melting snow will keep the water cold and stain it. We
still recommend fishing near the Dillion Dam in the tailwater. Midges and winter stoneflies are
the insects to imitate.
02/19/16 The tailwater below Lake Dillion Dam is a good choice for fly fishing. It will probably
be a little crowded this weekend but for good reasons. The water is clear and the discharges
currently low enough to sight fish tor the big trout. We recommend a small size 18 or less
02/26/16 The river continues to be in good shape and the weather remain looking good for
the coming week. We are still recommending fishing below the Dillion Reservoir near the dam.
Trout are being caught and Midges, Black Flies, and Winter stoneflies remain the insects you
should be imitating.
03/04/16 Midges, both creams and reds, size 22, are still the most plentiful insects and what
you should be imitating in the Dillon tailwater. Fish the pupa and lava imitations in tandem and
the adult imitations only when you see trout feeding on them on the surface. They are
hatching fairly regular.
03/11/16 The river is getting into very good shape. Melting snow in the watershed of the lower
river is keeping it a little stained and cold, but that will eventually help. The section below the
dam at Silverthrone is where you should be fishing. Blue-winged olives and midges are
03/18/16 The river is getting in much better shape although it is still cold water. Midges and
Blue-winged olives are hatching good. The weather is going to be most clear for the next
week with moderate temperatures for this time of the season. It won't be long before March
Browns begin to hatch in the low section.
03/25/16 There hasn't been much change the past week. It is snowing about half the time and
the water is staying cold. It is at it warmest just below the discharge at the Silverthrone area
and on the very lowest end of the river. Midges, creams and reds, are still the most important
insects to imitate.
04/01/16 The stream levels are low and wading possible just about anywhere. We still think
the best section to fish is the tailwater at Silverthrone. The water is low and clear and you
have to be careful not to spook the trout. Midges and little BWO nymphs are still the best fly
04/08/16 Stream level is up a little above normal. There is rain in the forecast everyday for
the next week. Little Black Caddis and March Browns are starting to hatch in the lower end of
the river. Conditions will be good as long as the water doesn't get too high.
04/15/16 The river is in good shape but the weather isn't. It is turning back cold with lots of
snow. Fish the tailwater below the shopping center in Silverthrone using cream or red midge
larva and pupa in tandem. The midges could hatch, and if so, fish the adult imitation.
04/22/16 The river is back in good shape with a decent week of weather ahead. The water is
still a little colder than we would like it to be, but it will be warming up enough that the
Blue-winged olives, Little Black Caddis and March browns should begin to hatch in the lower
elevations this week.
04/29/16 We didn't receive any reports from anyone last week. There is more snow in the
forecast for the next four days and little change expected. March Browns and little
Blue-winged olives continue to be the most important hatches. There are some little Black
Caddis hatches taking place in the lower section.
05/06/16 The discharges and stream levels are currently low and likely not to change much.
There is rain and snow in the forecast every day for the next week, with mostly wet snow.
There are little Black Caddis hatching good in the lower section of the river. This should move
upstream as the water warms. Lots of little Blue-winged olives are hatching.
05/13/16 The section below the Lake Dillion tailwater is currently in good shape and of
course, a little busy with anglers. It is about the only opportunity at this point. The middle and
lower river is stained and high from runoff. Midges, sculpin streamers and little BWO nymphs
will catch trout in the tailwater if the discharges remain low.
05/20/16 Right now, the discharges below Dillon Reservoir is low and the stream level low.
The problem is, the upper river is in runoff and when the lake gets to a certain level they will
be releasing water. You can fish it at Breckeridge when the water is high with streams and
double nymph rigs with indicators. You just have to watch the levels.
05/27/16 Right now, all levels are high and even the tailwaters are high and dingy. You will
just have to watch the levels but there may be some opportunity at the Dillon tailwater. The
discharges have been low at times but now they are up again.
06/03/16 In most sections, the river is high and dirty with visibility of less than a foot. We don't
think any of it is worth fishing other than MAYBE the tailwater at Silverthrone. When the
discharges are reasonable, the stream is a little crowded. The runoff will continue for the next
06/10/16 The stream levels and discharges are high in all sections and the water varying from
muddy to highly stained. The runoff is in full swing right now and there is little to now fly fishing
opportunity. Please continue to check with us and we will keep you informed of the status of
the runoff and other fly fishing conditions.
06/17/16 The stream levels in all sections are still high and most of the water is highly stained.
The section below Dillon isn't bad in that respect. It can be fished but we don't really
recommend it. We aren't struggling guides or fly shop. It is going to be another week or two
before the water gets into good shape, or at least we hope we don't have a relapse.
06/24/16 It is getting in good shape fast, but most sections are still high and stained. There
are few places it is possible to wade safely. The section below the dam at the shopping center
is getting a lot of attention but quite frankly, few anglers are catching very many trout.
Streamers like our Brown sculpin are still working good.
07/01/16 The Blue has gotten into good shape in all sections. You will always have to watch
the discharges and levels, but the runoff is over and our customers are reporting some good
catches. Most areas can be safely waded in most places. There is some rain in the forecast
through the next three days and this may change it up a little. Lost of insects are hatching.
07/08/16 The river is in good shape from the headwaters, through both tailwaters and at the
lowest section of the river. Lots of hatches are taking place and our customers are sending in
some very good reports. The most plentiful insects in most sections are the Spotted Sedge
caddis, little Yellow stoneflies and Pale Morning dun mayflies.
07/15/16 Blue is in good shape from its headwaters through all of its tailwaters. There are a
huge number of aquatic insects hatching but it varies greatly from section to section. The
great majority are Green drakes, Pale Morning duns, spotted and Gree sedges, little Yellow
stoneflies and Golden stoneflies. We recommend the tailwater below Dillion to near the Green
07/22/16 Good reports are coming in from all sections of the river. It is a little low in places but
easy wading is allowing anglers to catch a lot of trout. There are still a large number of
insects hatching but the exact species varies from section to section. Pale Morning duns,
Spotted and green Sedges and Little Yellow stoneflies are just about everywhere in all
07/29/16 The upper, middle and lower sections of the river are in good shape. The levels are
a little low in all sections but rain in on the way and that shouldn't be a problem for very long.
The hatches vary with the section but there are still plenty of them. Fish early and late in the
day for the best opportunity.
08/11/16 The river is in good shape in all sections. Stream levels and discharge rates are
good and our customers continue to report good catches. The lower river is fishing good and
although they are not listed on the fly list linked above, Callebaetis are hatching at the upper
ends of the lakes. It won't be long before the Kokanee salmon begin to move out of the lake
08/18/16 The good news is the weather continues to be cool. The not so good news is most
of the streams levels are low and rain in needed. There is a chance everyday but they are low
chances. Terrestrials are working good. There are still lots of caddisflies hatching. The last
two or three hours of the day is the best time to fish. Early morning streamer fishing is also
08/25/16 The stream levels are about normal for this time of the season. Low water levels are
normal. If the fishing was just half as good as the fly shops pushing guides reported, it would
be excellent. We don't guide and are able to tell the truth. Most hatches are caddisflies. The
best action comes the last two or three hours of daylight when the egg laying is taking place.
09/02/16 The river is in good shape but running low. The cooler weather is a big plus.
Blue-winged olives are starting to hatch good, and of a different species than the little ones
that have been the hatching. There are still a lot of caddisflies and the afternoon egg laying is
still bringing trout to the surface to feed. Terrestrials are still working good.
09/09/16 The stream levels and discharges are low but it is easy to wade most sections and
fun to fish. Just don't spook the trout. Stay low to the water, weather clothes to match the
background and use longer, lighter leaders. Blue-winged olives are starting to hatch good.
These are two species of baetis and will be around for a while.
09/16/16 Most all sections of the river are low. You will have to stay low and well hidden from
the trout to catch them. Longer, lighter leaders and tippets may help. Trout are being caught
in all sections of the river. Caddisflies are the most consistent hatches taking place but there
are a few others depending on the section you are fishing..
09/23/16 Most anglers are fishing in town, or the Silverthrone section. I would recommend
about anywhere but there. The stream levels are still a little low but it is raining some and that
may help. They are easy to wade about anywhere and anglers and our customers are
catching trout in all sections of the river. The cooler, fall like weather is really helping.
09/30/16 The river rarely gets into any better shape during the early fall months than it is right
now. Our customers are catching a lot of trout. There are some great Blue-winged hatches
taking place. Mahogany duns and October caddis are also hatching. You can fish about any
section of the river and expect some success using the right strategies.
10/07/16 Stream levels and discharges are a little below normal for this time of the year, but
otherwise, everything is in very good shape. There are several hatches taking place and fish
being caught in most all sections of the river. Blue-winged olives are the most consistent
hatch and with cloud cover, the best one.