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Fly Fishing Cache La Poudre River – Fort Collins, CO – Complete Guide w/ Map, Pictures, Tips & More


Article Categories: Fishing

In this article, we will give you all the information you need to have a successful fly fishing trip on the Cache La Poudre River. We will go over the river system, rules and regulations, a river map, flies to use, local guides, and more.


My Expertise

I lived in Fort Collins for three years, which meant I fly fished the Poudre a lot! Lots of fishing right in Fort Collins, and many day trips up into Poudre Canyon. This experience allowed me to explore the river at all times of the year, in all water conditions, and fish a very large mount of this river.


River Map

Below you will find all major points of the Poudre River. Message us if you want more added! This doesn’t have the best fishing holes in it, just general points and public access. Fortunately, with this river anglers have access good public fishing spots almost everywhere. Especially from Fort Collins all the way to Poudre Lake with various parking spots, public spaces, and road pull-offs.

We also have a map here: Fishing The Poudre River Map Rules And Regulations



The River System

The Cache La Poudre River is an awesome river system that flows from Rocky Mountain National Park’s Poudre Lake, flows through Poudre Canyon into Fort Collins, continues eastward towards Greeley, and eventually empties into the South Platte River.

This is an extremely popular river system. Rafting is common in Poudre Canyon, and tubers, and swimmers are common from Poudre Canyon all the way through Fort Collins.

30 Miles of this river are classified as Wild and Scenic by the National Parks Service. It also contains two sections considered Wild Trout Waters by the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

The average flow of this river is 162 cu ft/s (4.6 m3/s). During snowmelt in spring, the river substantially increases above this, and during low water times can often appear to be barely flowing. Aside from complete washout conditions, there are fishable sections all over this river at nearly every flow level.


What Fish Are In The Poudre?

The Poudre is most well known for the abundant trout population. The river system contains rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, cut-bow trout, arctic grayling, and brown trout.

If you are in search of cutthroat, you should fish closer to Rocky Mountain National Park near the headwaters. This river on average has mostly smaller fish in the 12 inch range, but there are some pretty big fish in here, and 20 inches plus is not that uncommon.


Best Places to Fish the Cache La Poudre

Nearly every section of this river holds a ton of fish, and has great fishing conditions. Whether you want to stay in Fort Collins, or drive up Highway 14 into Poudre Canyon, you’ll be able to find fish.

This river has ample wading opportunities, but you can actually fish almost all of this river from the shoreline if you wanted to.


Poudre Canyon

Poudre Canyon is stunningly beautiful. You’ll find yourself surrounded by cliffs, mountains, elk, bighorn sheep, and just all around gorgeous scenery. If you have the time, be sure to head up into the canyon. Be aware that you will have no cell service at all within the canyon.

You’ll find endless water of all types in the canyon, and fish can be caught by any fly fishing method. Many will say that the fishing simply continues to just get better as you head closer to the headwaters of Poudre Lake.

As far as river access, your options are endless. Highway 14 stays along the river just about the whole time, and there are endless campgrounds, pull-offs, and hiking trails that allow you to fish easily just about every inch of water that is on public land.

Our best advice is to simply drive along, looking at the river, and pulling over wherever you feel like it. There are no bad spots to stop, other than the ones filled with other anglers and tubers. Find some water to yourself and get after it.

If you love camping, there are tons of campgrounds in Poudre Canyon. Take advantage. Here is a resource for you on camping in Poudre Canyon (scroll to the camping section, and expand the link for all of the campgrounds): https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/arp/recarea/?recid=81605


Fort Collins

As the river leaves the canyon and flows towards Fort Collins, you’ll be driving by a lot of private land and farm. Eventually the river flows to the town of Fort Collins where the river access is yet again incredible. The Poudre Trail is a paved bike and walking path that allows anglers, bikers, runners, walkers, and everyone else to easily walk right next to the river all the way through town and back out of town.

You’ll find a lot of people here year round, but the fishing is still stellar at all times. You can either walk on this path, bike on it, or drive to different parking lots scattered along the Poudre Trail. Again, it is impossible to single out any locations, because there are so many productive sections, and public access options.

We highly recommend parking your car at a park, and walking the Poudre Trail to different fishing holes. Then, hopping back in the car, and continuing on to the next park. This is a great way to get a lot of river covered if you are looking to discover a few of your favorite spots in town.


River Rules & Regulations

Here is a PDF Map with rules and regulations: Fishing The Poudre River – Map, Rules, And Regulations

Here is the CO fishing rules and regulations book: https://cpw.state.co.us/Documents/RulesRegs/Brochure/fishing.pdf


Upstream Black Hollow Creek To Big Bend Campground

– Artificial flies and lures only
– Catch and release only


Pingree Park Rd. Bridge to the western border of the Hombre Ranch

– Artificial flies and lures only
– Catch and release only


Rocky Mtn National Park to Joe Wright Creek

– Artificial flies and lures only
– Bag limit is two fish, any species


North Fork: Upstream Bull Creek to Divide Creek, Downstream Milton Seaman Reservoir to Poudre River

– Only artificial flies and lures allowed
– All fishing is strictly catch and release


The South Fork: Downstream from Rock Mountain National Park for 1 mile

– No fishing permitted


The Cache La Poudre River is open and fishable year round. Crowds subside in winter, but you will still see anglers in the canyon area, and plenty of runners and bikers along the Poudre Trail. Some areas during winter get ice covered making fishing difficult or impossible, but generally there is always water to fish.

This river fishes great year round. The fishing in the Fort Collins area gets a lot tougher when water levels are low, but you can still always find fish.

Summer brings great dry fly and terrestrial fishing, while winter means a lot more success with small nymphs.


Best Flies for The Poudre

Dry fly dropper setups work very well. During summer months, hopper patterns work great.

Streamers are always a great backup plan, and nymphs work year round. Terrestrials and beetles do well for dry flies in summer months. Size 16-20 tends to be best for wet flies.

When the water is slow and clear, you are going to want to fish small. Size 20 midges are effective. The RS2 is a great fly for this river as well.

Much of this river is heavily fished, and very clear and slow, making these fish particularly hard to fool in certain conditions. 6x or smaller tippet and tiny flies are often needed when the water is low.


Cache La Poudre Fishing Guides

If you are looking for a guide on the Poudre, we can hook you up! Just fill out our guided fishing form, and we will connect you with the best guide for your needs.

St. Peters Fly Shop: https://stpetes.com/

Mau Fly Fishing: https://flyfishingcolorado.wordpress.com/


Current Waterflows For Cache La Poudre River





Poudre River Brown Trout In Fort Collins

Poudre River Brown Trout In Fort Collins

Brown Trout From Poudre Canyon

Brown Trout From Poudre Canyon

Brown Trout From Cache La Poudre River In Fort Collins

Brown Trout From Cache La Poudre River In Fort Collins

Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, backcountry skier, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued climbed all of the Colorado 14ers, is always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about