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"The Bill"-
Fishing the Williams Fork

by Karen Christopherson

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The Williams Fork - very well known to some. I'm surprised it doesn't have a nickname like so many other favorite flyfishing rivers in Colorado - the Pan, the Fork, the Poudre - why not "The Bill"?

Ah well, regardless, fishing this river is a pleasure as it is just the right size and loaded with fish. It sits in a serene, quiet setting away from highways and is pretty easy to get to. Admittedly, the closest parking is over one mile away. But the walk is pleasant, taking about 30 minutes over fairly level ground. Better yet, take your mountain bike and cut the journey down to about 12 minutes (and you don't have to be pro biker either - no downhill kamikaze stuff unless you want to!)

Williams Fork Valley Colorado A view of the lush Williams Fork valley nestled in hilly, sagebrush country.

This river starts near the Continental Divide to the west of Berthoud Pass. It basically parallels the Blue River and both are main tributaries for the Colorado River. The Williams Fork is free-flowing for most of its route, and fishing is possible as it travels through Arapaho National Forest land. Its entire journey is something like 45 miles, but it's the last two miles that are the best known for flyfishing.

Williams Fork River Colorado A variety of water

The best fishing is below Williams Fork Reservoir, very close to US Hwy 40 and the town of Parshall. Public access is available on the Williams Fork and the Colorado River at the Kemp and Breeze Units, leased by the Div. of Wildlife. The Denver Water Board controls the flows from the dam, and water levels can fluctuate from day to day. They also control the land directly below the dam, which is closed to fishing.

Colorado fishing A fat, healthy brown

Colorado Fishing There are about two miles of access available, from the confluence with the Colorado upstream to a short ways below the dam. Here you will find a variety of water with paths along the shore. Wading is possible in much of the river unless the flows are high. Presentation is key to these wary browns and rainbows who will rise for dries, but make sure you have a selection of nymphs with you.

Careful fishing