Just 26 miles south of Montrose, Ridgeway State Park leads to world-class tail waters that flow behind a reservoir dam. The Uncompahgre River is born from a lake that sits at 12,221 feet of elevation, which then runs 75 miles to eventually end up in Delta. All of two miles long, this stretch of water trailing the dam has produced some of the biggest trout caught in Colorado. The local name the Paco-chu-puk, which stands for cow creek in UTE Indian language.
The dam release regulates flow and water temperature, creating an excellent habitat for trophy sized fish. When a river has a constant flow like this one, it creates huge pockets of calm water that are packed with fish. Boulders and logs have also been placed in the river to make sure the water flow stays stagnant. Park and Wildlife will charge six dollars at the gate, but will turn out to be worth every cent. They are open year-round and unless it is below zero degrees, there will be people fishing it.
Search the “Paco-chu-puk” tail water and dozens of pictures of huge trout will come up, or look up to our featured picture to see a seven-pound rainbow caught just last month! Cow Creek is also known for its natural brown trout that have come to dominate most of the territory.
The fish here are able to get so big due to plentiful aquatic insect population consisting of mayflies, stoneflies, and midges. But the main reason for the size comes from the sculpin and other small baitfish that are suited for the bigger predators. Try fishing the faster water to trick one into biting.
The entrance to Paco-chu-puk is just below the reservoirs off Hwy. 550, with plenty of parking spots. Again, this is a well-known spot so the earlier the better.