One-stop shopping in Silverthorne

Blue River lies within a short walk of mall

Talk about ease of access!  As easy as it gets, and one you have probably passed multiple times, the Blue River at Silverthorne is only an exit away off Interstate 70.  But you may have an audience watching from the outlet mall bridge.



Standing in the knee-deep current, as I look around, most of what I observe is the same as any other Colorado mountain stream. A mixture of evergreen trees and smaller bushes line the banks of the stream. On the horizon, mountains stretch in every direction. No eagle soars overhead, but it seems as if one could.

Although this stream is typical in many ways, I am nonetheless feeling awkward. Yes, this is a mountain stream, and yes, it flows through a picturesque valley, but listening I hear the bustle of a city.

Voices carry down to the water. Sounds of cars and big trucks float in the air. Across the tree-lined banks I see not more trees, but buildings in every direction. A shopping mall to be exact.

A stone’s throw upstream, a footbridge crosses the river, and a handful of people lean on the railing, watching my curious activity. Curious to them at least.

Such is the Blue River at Silverthorne. There is an audience of shoppers passing on the footbridge across the river that leads to factory outlet stores. Interstate 70 rushes along nearby, most of the travelers unaware or disinterested in the clear water below their wheels as they cross the road bridge.

If you were to invite a flatlander city friend on a Colorado fishing trip and describe to him a shopping mall and an interstate highway, your invitation would likely be turned down. He wants to get away from the populous and noise. Why should he join you in a place that resembles his own home?

Fishing under an interstate bridge is uncommon for we who live in western Colorado where four-lane highways and shopping malls are scarce, but the Blue River can make it worthwhile.

This section of the Blue next to the outlet stores is immediately below Dillon Reservoir. Dillon Reservoir is that large lake you buzz by between Vail Pass and the Eisenhower Tunnel on your way to Denver. A very beautiful lake, even with all the surrounding development. Because of the reservoir, the water exiting the dam is a controlled flow and of a relatively constant temperature. Even in winter, when the lake is frozen, the river still flows with life, and can be fished year round.

Next time you happen to stop for shopping, take a few moments to follow the road past the stores and along the river. A short dirt road takes you all the way to the river’s outlet below the dam. Stop the car and check out the river from the walking bridge over the river just below the stilling basin. One doesn’t realize when shopping, just how close one is to such a massive structure.

Fishing here, that is catching fish here, is difficult. Because of the exceptionally easy access, the river is constantly being sampled by both the local and the visiting fisherman. After all, there aren’t many rivers where only minutes after releasing a rainbow one can then be shopping for shoes. But then again, there aren’t many rivers where a footbridge busy with casual observers showcases to the world both your success and failure to tame a trout.

They watch for a few moments, and then they move on to do the things they came for. It’s almost as if you are there intentionally as entertainment for them, sort of like a street musician. After all, most are there for entertainment of some sort such as skiing, shopping, or a summer mountain getaway.

One can spot fish from the bridge, so you know they are there. Most fish are of above average size compared to other rivers of a similar size to the Blue River because of the controlled flows from the reservoir. Like other tailwater fisheries, fish here have it easy. Food is better, habitat is excellent, water temperatures from the lake are less extreme season to season, and the spring runoff is controlled.

Fish here with light lines and small offerings. Although the fish here are accustomed to the presence of man, nonetheless they are wary and know when a fisherman is present.

So even though you may be fishing only feet way from a likely holding spot for fish, stealth and hunting tactics can lead to success.

The Blue River at Silverthorne is but one section of a wonderful river that extends both above and below Dillon Reservoir. Beginning near Hoosier Pass above Breckenridge, it continues down the valley, pausing at the reservoir, and eventually meeting the Colorado River near Kremmling.

When you next plan a trip to the other side of the divide, Interstate 70 can be a fast track to the big city, but along the way, life slows down in the microcosm called the Blue River. Pack your rod, and slow down yourself.


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