This section became more popular with the Division of Wildlife purchase of Hayden Ranch. This property was held privately since the homesteading days but has been opened up to public fishing in recent years. The river here, above the confluence with Lake Creek and its augmented flow of trans-mountain water, is a small volume meadow stream. It has a primarily cobbled bottom with overhanging grassy banks – home to some big browns and challenging fishing. The clear, slow, shallower water hosts fish that are more wary of people and do not respond well to pressure.
As one travels downstream, the slower current velocity and grassy banks of Hayden Meadows are left behind for the bouldered pocket water of the Granite Gorge. Here one exchanges the cobblestone bars and shelf lines for a riverbed strewn with rocks of every size, creating rapids and eddies, shoreline pockets and deep plunge pools. Set astride the upper end of this canyon, from the Lake County line downstream to 1.5 miles below the Granite Bridge, the Granite State Wildlife Area provides public access above and beyond that afforded by the San Isabel National Forest. Most anglers do not wade far into this swifter, steeper current but rather rock-hop along the bank, working the shoreline habitat and seamlines where the predominant brown trout population primarily resides.
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Annual Guide sale
Cost $30 Plus a Free Orvis Guide Book $20 Value