It’s no secret that the South Platte River can get crowded. Especially in the fall.

As the days grow shorter and the water temperature cools, the fishing becomes better. And with its proximity to Colorado Springs and Denver, the South Platte is a prime target for Front Range anglers looking for trophy trout. However, the same conditions that improve fishing on the South Platte also improve fishing in the rest of the state, especially at stillwater fisheries.

Northern pike are on the move in Spinney Mountain and Eleven Mile reservoirs. So if combat fishing makes you claustrophobic, grab an 8 weight and some large streamers, find a shallow cove to wade in or a point to stand on, and enjoy some peace and quiet until your drag starts screaming. Bring Pike Bunnies in an assortment of colors, and the larger the fly the better.

Are you trout bums looking for a topwater bite? Try tossing large black or chartreuse poppers in the morning at Pueblo Reservoir or the Valco Ponds. Watching bass rise to smash a popper is as exciting, if not more so, as watching a trout rise to a trico or baetis.

For fall bass, target structure early, including submerged rocks, logs, trees and weed beds. As the sun rises, bass tend to move to deeper water. When this happens, switch to longer leaders and use flies such as the trusty chartreuse and white Clouser Minnow or your favorite crawfish pattern.

In my opinion, the reservoirs on the north slope of Pikes Peak are extremely underrated. Crystal, South Catamount and North Catamount are well-maintained and well-stocked. Rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, cutbows, brook trout, brown trout and mackinaw (lake trout) can be found in all three reservoirs.

Lake trout are as predatory as northern pike and can grow just as large. Olive or black Wooly Buggers, white Boufaces and white or crawfish-colored Slumpbusters are some of my favorite fly patterns for targeting lakers.

These reservoirs are great examples of why it’s often said that trout live in beautiful places. You’d be hard-pressed to find a prettier drive in September. The golden leaves of changing aspens and the view of Pikes Peak combine to create an ideal setting for fishing.

Angler beware, as no motorized boating is allowed and fishing on North Catamount is limited to flies and lures. Check the Colorado fishing proclamations for bag limits. Before you head out, call your local fly shop to make sure the reservoirs are open. Weather permitting, they’re typically open from May through October. At the toll gate, tell the attendant you are going fishing so you don’t get charged the full amount of a summit pass.

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