Most ski tourists don’t think of flyfishing as a legitimate resort-town option in the wintertime. And why would they, as long as the snow and skiing is good? But say you’re on day six of a weeklong ski trip and fresh snow has failed to fall. Or your legs are tired from fighting moguls for five hours straight. Or maybe you just love to flyfish without summer crowds…
If so, here are a few fishy ski resorts where a midwinter two-fer would be well worth your while:
Steamboat, Colorado: As one of the only south-facing ski resorts in North America, the sun in Steamboat comes early and often. After enjoying your fourth tree run of the morning let your eyes drift south, to where the long-retired runs of the old Stagecoach ski area can still be seen hovering above the Yampa River. The Yampa has several access options, including seven miles of public water right through downtown; a short section below Stagecoach; and a private stretch below Catamount Reservoir.
Aspen, Colorado: There may be no better tailwater in the West than the world-famous Frying Pan River near Basalt. After a morning at one of Aspen’s four ski mountains, spend an afternoon fishing the 14 miles of Gold Medal water on the Pan.
Crested Butte, Colorado: Some of the country’s biggest rainbow trout are caught every winter on the Taylor River below Taylor Park Reservoir. About an hour north, Crested Butte mixes authentic ski-town vibes with 300 inches of annual snowfall blanketing some of the best steeps in southern, CO.
RED Mountain, British Columbia: RED is located in Rossland, B.C. and is the first stop along the province’s Powder Highway. With more than 2,800 lift-serviced acres (4,200 total), explore it all till your legs burn then cool off your dogs in the trout-filled tailwater reaches of the upper Columbia River—about 20 minutes from town.
Bend, Oregon: Mt. Bachelor is central Oregon’s largest ski area, with 3,700 acres of terrain and a price that’s hard to beat. For 2016, its adult single-day tickets have yet to break the hundred-buck mark. Reinvest those savings in a growler of beer and hit the Crooked River for an après sesh with native redbands that nosh midges from November through spring.
Mammoth, California: Mammoth Mountain is NorCal’s winter uber alles—especially for those of us wanting to combine shred time with good trout fishing on nearby Hot Creek. Because of its geothermal flows, Hot maintains fish-friendly temps all season long and is packed with about 11,000 trout per mile.
Craig, Montana: And, last but not least, the “High Bank Chutes” of the Missouri River remain a wintertime must for getting some sweet turns and landing in an epic run.