The Roaring Fork is a Gold Medal freestone river that originates above Aspen near Independence Pass and winds its way down the valley about 70 miles. It culminates at its confluence with the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs. Throughout this relatively short distance the Roaring Fork falls more in elevation than the Mississippi River does in its entire length, which gives it many different faces. These characteristics make it attractive for many types of recreation activities.
Recreation - The Roaring Fork River is a popular destination among fishermen, rafters and kayakers. For walking and wading anglers the Roaring Fork is a brawling river that lives up to its name as it tumbles down from 12,000 foot Independence Pass. The Roaring Fork provides the best winter fishery, in the state, for large trout and trophy mountain whitefish. The Fork delivers good fishing except during spring runoff. Nearby camping is limited but accommodations are available in the resort towns of Aspen and Glenwood Springs, and the smaller communities of Basalt and Carbondale.
With the added flows of the Fryingpan and Crystal rivers upstream, the Roaring Fork becomes big water. Chest waders, preferably with cleats, are recommended. The best way to fish this water is by floating down it. Inquire locally for guides and outfitters.
The Roaring Fork is a great nymph-fishing river, with Golden Stone flies, Hares Ears and Renegades being consistently effective. Big stone-flies hatch in June, smaller ones as the summer progresses and both mayfly and caddis hatches continue on into the fall. These varied hatches make the Roaring Fork good for dry flies too, especially in the evenings. Lure fishing is particularly effective in early summer as runoff waters are dropping.
The trout in the Roaring Fork are a mix of Browns and Rainbows, with average fish from 12-18 inches and larger. The most unusual aspect of this fishery is the opportunity to catch the states biggest whitefish when nymphing the river in winter or during their spawn in October. Small nymphs drifted on the bottom work best for this soft-mouthed fish.
The Roaring Fork River from Basalt to Glenwood Springs is a delight for the floating fisherman. Whether using a raft or a dory, the fish you can reach, the water you can cover and the magnificent scenery, bring many anglers back year after year.
Floating is one of the most effective ways to access the Roaring Fork. The floating fisherman is not only able to cover more water in a day, than the wading fisherman, but is also able to access the private water, which is inaccessible to the fisherman on foot.
Although the Upper section of the Roaring Fork (above Basalt) is inaccessible for float boats due to the fact that the water can be fast and narrow with many rapids in places, the middle and lower sections of the Roaring Fork are some of the finest floating water in the state.