When it comes to fish, there are a multitude of species that can be targeted with a fly rod. There are species all over the world that will readily and eagerly go after flies. In Colorado, many species of fish are available to target, however trout seem to be the most popular. People travel from around the world to fish in Colorado to take advantage of the incredible trout fishing and water spread throughout the state.
At Vista Verde, we have an opportunity to fish on the Elk River as well as other rivers around the area. In the Elk, you will find trout and a native fish to the area called Whitefish. Both of these species are extremely fun to catch. A popular question that fishing guides are asked on the river is, “What kind of trout is that?” or “what kind of fish is that?” This blog post is here to clear up any confusion and is here to help those who would like to go out for a day of fishing and know what they’re catching.
Rainbow trout are native to the cold water tributaries of the Pacific Ocean in the United States and also parts of Northern Russia along the Pacific Ocean. These fish have been stocked in numerous countries around the globe. You can identify rainbow trout because of their red/pink stripe along the sides of their bodies. Other identifiers are red/pink gill plates, small black spots covering their bodies, and their silver body color. Rainbows are some of the most beautiful fish out there.
Cutthroat trout are native to the cold water tributaries of the Pacific Ocean, Rocky Mountains, and parts of the Great Basin area of the United States. The reason they are called “Cutthroats” is because of the red/orange coloration under the lower jaw of their mouths. Other identifiers are reddish colored gill plates and lower body fins, green/yellowish colored bodies, and small black spots over their bodies–but most spots are
concentrated towards their tails. Colorado’s state fish is the Greenback Cutthroat which is endangered.
Cutbow trout are a hybrid trout containing rainbow and cutthroat genetics. This hybridization can occur naturally if there are rainbows and cutthroats in the same water system. Cutbows are hard to identify because they look extremely similar to rainbows, but they have red/orange coloration under their jaws just like cutthroats. Cutbow trout are immune to certain diseases that other trout aren’t so they are able to survive in prevalent numbers in many rivers.
Brown trout hail from Europe. They were stocked in the United States around the late 1800s. These stocking efforts used brown trout taken from Scotland and Germany. Many people will refer to brown trout as “German Browns” for this reason. You can identify brown trout by their dark yellowish/golden color, and red and small black spots on their bodies. Brown trout can be very aggressive when it comes to eating flies. They
can make for an extremely fun day of fishing on the river.
Brook trout are native to the Eastern United States and Canada. Today natives can be found along rivers in the Appalachian Mountains. You will often hear brook trout referred to as “brookies”, not to be mistaken with the cookie/brownie combo. They are identified by their dark green body, a lighter marbled pattern within the green, red spots all throughout their body, with blue halos around the spots. Their belly and lower fins are reddish in color with white edges on each fin. They are very eager to take well presented flies.
Whitefish are native to northern parts of the Northern Hemipshere. There is a good population size throughout the Yampa and Elk rivers in Steamboat and Clark. They readily take flies and are very fun to fight and catch. They are identified by their silver/shiny bodies and extremely small mouths.
Let’s go catch some fish!