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Wild River, Wild Trout:
Cache la Poudre River

by Karen Christopherson

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The Cache la Poudre River is the only river in Colorado designated as a "Wild and Scenic River" by the National Park Service. It also has two sections of the river which have been designated as Wild Trout Waters by the Division of Wildlife.

According to legend, the river was named in the 1830's, when a group of explorers (possibly en route to the Green) was caught in a heavy snowstorm near the banks of the river. They had to "cache la poudre" or "hide the powder" in order to lighten their load, returning to retrieve the gunpowder in the spring.

This river wanders through beautiful canyons, offering many types of water and scenery for the flyfisher. Whether you like smaller streams, pools, raging water, riffles - this river has it all. And the great news is that there is also lots of access.

Access- Plenty of it

The Poudre starts in Rocky Mountain National Park. If you're up for a hike, you can fish the headwaters by taking the trail off Trail Ridge Road. Poudre Lake is just off the road and the trail heads north along the river through the park and into Comanche Peak Wilderness

The Poudre and Joe Wright Creek meet near Hwy 14, which is the main highway north of Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park, connecting the Fort Collins area with North Park. Highway 14 follows the Poudre from Joe Wright Creek to Highway 287, a journey of about 48 miles.

Access is available at numerous spots along the road. There are trailheads, campgrounds, picnic areas, and turn-outs, mostly on USFS land. There is also access at Bliss State Wildlife Area, the state fish hatchery and the Poudre State Wildlife area.  There is private land along the river, but by far a majority is public. Great fishing! Drive along the highway until you see your spot, no other fishermen, and access. You're in!

poudre river colorado Canyon fishing
Fishing Colorado rainbow trout Some nice rainbows are growing up on the Poudre (photo courtesy Scott Murdoch)

There are lots of other great areas to fish - go over to North Park and fish in numerous rivers and creeks, including the North Platte. Drive north off the western end of Hwy 14 and fish the Laramie. Fish the loads of lakes in Rocky Mtn Nat'l Park and the nearby wilderness areas - this is where you will find Greenback Cutthroats.

The area can be crowded in summer - not just fisherman frequent this river - it is also a popular region for kayaking, rafting, hiking, or just getting-away-from-it-all. So, plan accordingly, making sure you have your lodging organized and your patience cap on for the traffic. This is a 2-lane road.

The river is home to several types of trout including rainbows, browns, cuttbows, and cutthroats. There have even been reports of Kokanee in the Poudre!

Fishing Poudre pool A nice clear pool

Resources/Other Info:

Poudre Laramie River Fishing Colorado map Click here to buy a Digital Fishing Map for the Poudre and Laramie Rivers. No shipping - you download the map within hours of ordering

Colorado fishing mapsClick here to buy topo maps for this area. You need map 112 for the western part of the river and 101 for the eastern part.Map 200 covers Rocky Mtn. Nat'l Park.

Colorado fishing books Click here to buy an Ebook about Trout fishing on Colorado State lands - includes info about the Poudre River and area.

See the website for Wild and Scenic Rivers - the Poudre

Visit the website for Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest

Rules for the Poudre

Where to stay