Best of the West - Colorado

Field & Stream Online Editors

Ditch the Family
Steamboat Springs - Colorado
If you want to enjoy epic flyfishing action and not be missed-or chided-for your efforts, consider Steamboat Springs, Colorado. You can cut loose on the Yampa, the Elk River, or any number of worthy and exciting alpine lakes and creeks, and the non-anglers of all ages can ride horses, soak in natural hot springs, hike, raft, bike, shop, and even luge down an alpine slide. You might even make an easy extended jaunt to the Colorado, the Eagle, even the Green River, without anyone's knowing, or caring, about your absence. And Steamboat pulls it off without the expense or pretense of many other notable western resort destinations. More info: Steamboat Fishing Co., 970-879-6552; steamboatfishing.com. Bucking Rainbow Outfitters, 888-810-8747; buckingrainbow.com

** Next Best Bozeman, Montana** You'll find quality flyfishing options within an easy day's drive, with ample alternative attractions for non-anglers. And it's hard to argue with the natural appeal of Yellowstone National Park. But you'll want to tag along for that excursion, whether you bring the fly rod or not. More info: Bozeman Chamber of Commerce, 800-228-4224; bozemanchamber.com

See a Fistfight
The Bend Pool, Fryingpan River - near Basalt, Colorado
The Bend Pool wins this dubious distinction, thanks to fairly regular scrums resulting from crossed lines. Here, fat and semi-lazy rainbows and browns gorge on mysis shrimp ad nauseam, and landing an 8-pound trout on the fly is almost routine. This isn't wild fishing as much as it is a staged photo op. Farther downstream, though, this river is indeed one of the most delightful and technically demanding stretches of water in the West. But at the Bend Pool, they really ought to hang a ticket dispenser where every angler takes a number and waits his or her turn to fish. More info: Taylor Creek Fly Shop, 970-927-4374; taylorcreek.com

Next Best The Dream Stream, South Park, Colorado It's a small stretch of trophy water-perhaps the best trout fishing closest to the largest major cities (Colorado Springs and Denver) anywhere in the West. Sometimes tempers run hot, but you can beat the hustle if you show up at 5 a.m. (or earlier) during one of the most prolific Trico hatches in America, usually in early August. More info: Angler's Covey, 719-471-2984; www.anglerscovey.com

Find Solitude
San Juan Mountains - Colorado
With a good pair of boots, a map, and a GPS, it isn't hard to find total solitude and eager trout in the backcountry, and the San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado offer some of the best opportunities. How good can it be? Drive 9 miles from the highway on a dirt road, then hike another mile or so, and you'll find a feeder creek to the Dolores River, no more than 12 feet wide, where 12- to 20-inch cutthroat trout slam dry-fly patterns all day during the summer. Or take the Durango-Silverton narrow-gauge railroad over Coal Bank Pass. The engineer will let you out, and you can hike into a chain of lakes and creeks where brookies sip dry flies with regularity. Camp overnight, and you can flag down the next afternoon's train for a ride back to Durango. More info: Duranglers, 888-347-4346; duranglers.com. Telluride Outside, 800-831-6230; tellurideoutside.com

**Next Best Wind River Range, Wyoming **Throughout the 110-mile expanse of the rugged Wind River Range are more than 1,000 lakes and streams packed with golden, cutthroat, rainbow, brook, and brown trout. This is serious backcountry fishing, where you hike or pack in on horseback or with a string of llamas. It's possible to catch 50 fish on dry flies in one day here. More info: Lander Llama Co., 800-582-5262; landerllama.com. Bridger Wilderness Outfitters, 888-803-7316; bwo.com