Colorado Fishing Guide
Northeastern Colorado Fishing Hot Spots
AURORA RESERVOIR: Perched atop the high plains of Aurora's "outback," this oasis provides 820 acres of water for the outdoor enthusiast. There are plenty of good-sized game fish including rainbow trout, brown trout. Other fish include walleye, wipers, largemouth bass, yellow perch and crappie. The reservoir is open year-round from dawn until dusk. Location: Approximately 2.5 miles east of Gun Club Road on Quincy Ave.
BEAR CREEK: (Evergreen to Bear Creek Reservoir): For a medium-sized stream, Bear Creek produces good catches of 10- to 12-inch rainbow trout with an occasional larger trout being taken. There are also a few tiger muskies and saugeye being caught. Location: Access west of Morrison on Highway 74.
BIG THOMPSON RIVER: This is another favorite of residents and non-residents alike. Stocked rainbow trout and a natural brown trout population provide good fishing from May through September. Salmon eggs, various lures and worms work best during the spring runoff; flies are best during late July, August and September. Location: East of Estes Park on Highway 34.
BOULDER RESERVOIR: A fantastic view of nearby foothills and 540 acres of open water make this a favorite with many metro area residents. Walleye fishing is good during the spring. Other fish species include bluegill, crappie, yellow perch, rainbow trout and many channel catfish in the 1- to 6- pound range. Location: Northeast of the Longmont Diagonal at Jay Road and 51st Street.
CACHE LA POUDRE RIVER: The river begins its race for the flatlands from the Continental Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park. During the course of its rush to join the South Platte River near Greeley, it provides more than 60 miles of public fishing. There are good populations of brown trout, as well as some mountain whitefish and a limited rainbow fishery. Location: West of Fort Collins on Highway 14 for approximately 14 miles to the mouth of the canyon.
CHATFIELD RESERVOIR: This Denver metro area reservoir is one of the most popular recreation areas. With its extraordinary view of the foothills, this reservoir is developing a good walleye population, featuring many fish in the 1- to 3-pound class. There are rainbow trout, yellow perch, tiger muskie, smallmouth bass and crappie. Night fishing lands channel catfish, particularly in the Plum Creek area. A State Parks Pass is required. Location: South of Highway 85 to C-470, west and C-470, south on Wadsworth to the park entrance.
CHERRY CREEK RESERVOIR: There is premier trophy walleye fishing at Cherry Creek. Best fishing occurs in mid-May to early June with jigs, bait and plugs along the dam and island. Anglers can also find crappies, wipers and catchable stocked trout. A State Parks Pass is required. Location: Interstate 225 to Parker Road, south on Parker Road to the east entrance off South Yosemite Street.
North Delaney Butte: These three bodies of water are highly productive trout lakes. North Delaney Butte Lake is stocked exclusively with brown trout fingerlings. Lake habitat provides the potential for trout to grow 18- to 20-inches in a short time. South Delaney Butte Lake is also a productive trout lake, but is managed to produce somewhat smaller fish. The south lake contains rainbow and Snake River cutthroat trout. East Delaney was reclaimed in spring 1999, and since has been stocked with 15,000 5-inch rainbow trout, while 17- to 20-inch rainbow trout have been caught. All three lakes have sanitary facilities and boat ramps. These three lakes have special restrictions. Location: From Walden, .5 miles west on Highway 14 to County Road 18, 4.5 miles west on 18 to County Road 5, 1 mile north.
ELEVENMILE RESERVOIR: Something for everyone here: larger-than-average rainbows, cutthroats and browns can be caught right near your campsite, or troll for trophies. Some of the biggest kokanee salmon in the state are caught here. A State Parks Pass is required. Location: West of Colorado Springs on Highway 24 to the town of Lake George and south to park entrance.
LAKE JOHN: Known in the past as a producer of large trout, this lake was treated in 1993 to remove white suckers. It was re-stocked with rainbows and Snake River cutthroat. Bait works well in early spring and summer with many fish caught on flies, especially large streamers from mid-summer into the fall. Location: From Walden, .5 miles west on Highway 14 to County Road 12, then 8 miles west to County Road 7, then 7 miles north to the lake.
North Platte River: Slow meandering streams flowing across the valley floor offer some of northern Colorado's best fly-fishing for brown, brook and rainbow trout. The Division has leased public fishing easements on a number of these waters. Leases include portions of the North Platte River, Norris and Roaring creeks, Grizzly Creek, the North Fork of the North Platte and the Michigan and Illinois rivers. Location: Walden Area. Contact the Division of Wildlife for maps and current leases.
QUINCY RESERVOIR: This is a haven for tiger muskies, producing the state's record (40 lb., 2 oz.). In addition, there is good black crappie and bass fishing and spring trout fishing. Location: The reservoir is .5 miles east of Buckley Road on Quincy Ave. in Aurora.
SAWHILL AND WALDEN PONDS: Twenty ponds from 1 to 30 acres sit along Boulder Creek and provide good fishing for largemouth bass, bluegill, pumpkinseed, yellow perch and crappie. Several ponds also contain wiper and walleye. Location: Approximately .5 miles north of Valmont Dr. on N. 75th Street.
SOUTH PLATTE RIVER(Cheesman Reservoir to Strontia Springs Reservoir only): The splendid natural beauty of this river is distracting even to the most seasoned angler. Bighorn sheep frequent the canyon walls and a variety of birds hover over the water. The two prime stretches of water area are as follows: Cheesman Reservoir to Strontia Springs Reservoir: This Gold Medal river is regarded as one of the best rainbow and brown trout fisheries in the nation. There are many fish over 14 inches, particularly upstream of Scraggy View Picnic Ground. Location: U.S. 85 to Colorado 67. Strontia Springs Reservoir to Chatfield Reservoir: Requires hiking or biking. There are fewer anglers in this stretch than in the Deckers area and the concentrations of fish are impressive. Best bets are rainbow and brown trout. Location: C-470 west to South Wadsworth. Follow Wadsworth to the Kassler Water Treatment Plant. Access to this area is by hiking or biking.
SOUTH PLATTE RIVER IN SOUTH PARK: One of Colorado's best for quality-sized rainbow, brown and cutthroat trout. Best areas are between Spinney Mountain and Elevenmile reservoirs, upstream from Spinney, the Middle Fork from the confluence with the South Fork upstream to Fairplay and the South Fork above Antero Reservoir to Highway 285. Best kept secret: Elevenmile Canyon. Location: West of Colorado Springs on Highway 24.
SPINNEY MOUNTAIN RESERVOIR: The place for consistent large rainbows (16-inch plus), browns and Snake River cutthroats. Best fishing right after April ice-out. Excellent belly boat or shore fishing and trophy northern pike can be taken, best in June. A State Parks Pass is required. Location: West of Colorado Springs on Highway 24 for 55 miles to Country Road 23. Drive south for 2.8 miles and east on County Road 59 for 1 mile to entrance.
STANDLEY LAKE: A popular recreation spot for west Denver, this deep (80-plus feet) reservoir provides excellent habitat for rainbow trout, wiper, walleye, smallmouth bass and yellow perch. Location: 100th Ave. and Simms.
Northwestern Colorado Fishing Hot Spots
BLUE RIVER: This water flows out of Dillon Reservoir and boasts fantastic rainbow and brown trout fishing. Fly- and lure fishing only. Location: Located on Highway 9 at the Frisco-Silverthorne Exit off Interstate 70.
FRYINGPAN, CRYSTAL AND ROARING FORK RIVERS: These rivers offer some of the finest fly and lure fishing for trout in the United States. Catch-and-release sections on the Fryingpan River below Ruedi Reservoir provide an opportunity to catch rainbow trout up to 10 pounds! The Roaring Fork River offers the best mountain whitefish angling in the state. Catchables are stocked in the Crystal River. Location: Take Interstate 70 to Glenwood Springs, then Highway 82 to Basalt and Aspen.
RIFLE GAP RESERVOIR: This reservoir supports a large population of rainbow trout, but is known for the best yellow perch and walleye fishing. Boats are allowed and camping is available. A State Parks Pass is required. Location: From Rifle, 4 miles north on Highway 325.
STAGECOACH RESERVOIR: Big rainbows, 2 pounds and up, are the rule, not the exception. Stagecoach also boasts of a healthy population of northern pike. A State Parks Pass is required. Location: Seven miles east of Oak Creek, 15 miles south of Steamboat Springs.
STEAMBOAT LAKE STATE PARK: At the base of majestic Hahn's Peak, Steamboat Lake is known for its fine rainbow trout fishing. Boats are permitted. A State Parks Pass is required. Location: From Steamboat Springs, west 2 miles on Highway 40 to County Road 129, turn north for 26 miles to the entrance.
TRAPPERS LAKE: This lake holds the largest population of native Colorado River cutthroat trout in the world! As the second largest natural lake in Colorado, this pristine body of water is located within the Flattops Wilderness Area, but is only a quarter-mile hike from the end of the road. Hand-propelled craft may be rented. Location: From Buford, 24 miles east on Highway 132.
WOLFORD MOUNTAIN RESERVOIR: Wolford Mountain Reservoir has gained a reputation for producing 16-inch rainbow trout. The area features 48 full-service campsites with electricity (fee required), picnic tables, shelters, fire grates, water, restrooms, trash removal, dump station, a concrete boat ramp and two group-use sites. Location: Located 6.5 miles northwest of Kremmling on U.S. Highway 40.
Southeastern Colorado Fishing Hot Spots
Leadville to Canon City - Offers nearly 80 miles of public access and boasts great catches of nice-sized brown trout and rainbows. Most average 12-13 inches with some reaching lengths over 20 inches. The Arkansas River has become a very popular fishery in recent years for both walk/wade and float anglers. Most anglers rate the quality of their fishing experience as good to excellent. The "blizzard" caddis fly hatch in late April/early May is well renowned but hatches throughout the year make this a very consistent fishery where anglers can usually enjoy lots of elbow room. Lure and bait angling also produce very well, particularly during higher water flows.
Within the City of Pueblo - This is a must for all stream anglers looking for a place to go during the winter months. The mild winter climate and consistent flows out of Pueblo Dam makes for a great tailwater fishing experience for rainbow and brown trout. Good access is available for approximately 8 miles of river below the dam.
BEAVER CREEK RESERVOIR SWA: This popular trout fishery in the South Fork area provides shore anglers with good action on rainbow trout using power bait, salmon eggs and lures. A concrete boat ramp allows access for boaters taking kokanee, brown trout and rainbow trout by trolling. Fly fishermen prefer the "dead chicken" wet fly. Ice fishing is popular during the winter. Location: From South Fork, 2 miles southwest on Highway 160 to USFS Road 360, then 6 miles south.
CLEAR CREEK RESERVOIR: Clear Creek Reservoir is traditionally one of the most productive and dependable fishing reservoirs in the upper Arkansas River basin. This popular reservoir produces excellent year-round catches of nice-sized brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout with an occasional trophy tiger muskie being taken. Facilities are good with a boat ramp and camping nearby. Location: 13 miles west of Buena Vista on Highway 24.
DEWEESE RESERVOIR: This 250 acre reservoir located north of Westcliffe provides excellent fishing for creel-sized and larger rainbow and cuttbow trout. The reservoir also provides some excellent smallmouth bass fishing and the opportunity to catch a tiger muskie. Ice fishing is very good from mid December through February.
JOHN MARTIN RESERVOIR: Fine warm-water fishing and excellent state park facilities await anglers at this large plains reservoir. Start out the year with crappie fishing in April and May (try on the dam or at the railroad trestle), then move on to white bass, wiper and saugeye beginning in May and lasting throughout the summer and fall. Also enjoy some of the state’s best fishing for large catfish (using worms, crawdads, shrimp) toward the shallow upper end of the lake. Fall (September and October) usually brings another period of great fishing. Call the Lamar DOW office to check on water levels, access and best techniques.
NEE GRONDE RESERVOIR: If rod-bending fishing is more important than lots of amenities, then this is just your place. This lake provides for some of the most consistent fishing for warm-water predator fish like wipers, white bass, saugeyes and channel catfish. Nee Gronde also boasts good spring crappie and smallmouth bass fishing in some years. Fishing peaks in May and June when anglers can hook into a number of different species fishing using twister jigs tipped with a night crawler, shad imitation crank baits, worm harnesses and plain old minnows. The water level can fluctuate during the fishing season so call the Lamar DOW office for up-to-date information on boat ramp conditions. The reservoir is closed for fishing during waterfowl season from Nov. 1 to March 31. Interactive Map
PIKES PEAK NORTH SLOPE RESERVOIRS: Three reservoirs are found along the Pikes Peak Highway. Although just outside of Colorado Springs, these gorgeous waters boast rainbow and cutthroat trout and occasional brook trout. Exceptional lake trout can also be taken at Crystal Creek and North Catamount. Anglers can use carry-in boats propelled by hand or electric motor and float tubes. Open from May to October, check the Pikes Peak Highway Tollbooth for hours and access charges. Location: From Colorado Springs west of Highway 24 to Cascade, then follow signs for the Pikes Peak Toll Road.
PUEBLO RESERVOIR: This reservoir is one of the most popular destinations in southeast Colorado. High catch rates on largemouth and smallmouth bass provide an excellent fishery. Large numbers of walleye inhabit the reservoir, and fishing is good for walleye from 14-30 inches. The reservoir has special restrictions for walleye. The reservoir also has excellent fishing for wiper, catfish, bluegill and trout. A State Parks Pass is required. Location: West of Pueblo on Highway 50 to Pueblo Blvd., then south to Thatcher Ave., then west to entrance.
SKAGUAY RESERVOIR: This 114 acre reservoir located near Victor, Colorado offers scenic angling in a more remote setting. Catchable trout are stocked throughout the summer providing good action for anglers. They range in size from 10-14 inches. Though scarce, this reservoir supports a population of northern pike that average 24 inches with fish approaching 40 inches in length. Facilities are good including a concrete boat ramp, parking and restrooms. Beaver Creek below the reservoir offers good brown trout fishing for the stream fishing enthusiast.
TRINIDAD RESERVOIR: This 700 acre reservoir located immediately west of Trinidad offers up lots of amenities. A good boat ramp provides access to the reservoir at all water levels. Trinidad's warm-water fishery provides fishing for a wide range of species including yellow perch, channel catfish, saugeye, walleye, largemouth and smallmouth bass. Trinidad also provides an excellent trout fishery and is heavily stocked with creel sized rainbow and cuttbow trout. A State Parks Pass is required. Location: West of Trinidad on Highway 12. Anglers should take note of this mercury warning issued by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment.
TWIN LAKES RESERVOIRS: Twin Lakes have a combined surface area of 2700 acres and are located near Granite, Colorado. They offer good fishing in an exceptional mountain setting and are serviced by two concrete boat ramps (one in the upper lake and one in the lower) and two campgrounds. Twin Lakes are known for trophy lake trout (some over 40 inches) and offer good catches of rainbow and Snake River cutthroat trout, averaging 12 inches with some reaching lengths of nearly 20 inches.
Southwestern Colorado Fishing Hot Spots
ANIMAS RIVER: The state's newest Gold Medal water boasts many brown and rainbow trout 14-18 inches. Be aware of where you fish near Durango as there are restrictions and some private land. This river is best fished after snowmelt, from mid-April to June. Location: Take Highway 160 to Highway 550 to a stretch of the Animas River near Durango.
San Juan River through Pagosa Springs: The town of Pagosa supplements the Division’s stocking with large (16+ -inch trout) each year and the fishing has been quite good. The public has access to about 2 miles of stream through town. In addition, improvements to the habitat were made a number of years ago.
Vallecito Reservoir: Trophy northern pike are increasingly common. One angler from Chicago (northern pike country!) commented that Vallecito Reservoir contained some of the best pike fishing he had ever experienced. Anglers should also know that a fish consumption advisory due to elevated levels of mercury in pike over 27 inches has been posted at Vallecito Reservoir.
Echo Canyon Reservoir SWA: This reservoir has a reputation of growing big largemouth bass. The Colorado State record largemouth bass was taken here in 1997 (11 pounds, 6 ounces). Best fishing is in late spring and early summer before the submerged aquatic plants become too abundant. Located 4 miles south of Pagosa Springs on Hwy. 84.
BLUE MESA RESERVOIR: The state's best water for catching kokanee salmon and excellent for up to 16-inch rainbow trout throughout much of the year. Good ice fishing action in January and February. Trophy lake trout can be caught in the spring immediately after the ice melts. Location: Take Highway 50, 9 miles west of Gunnison.
GRAND MESA LAKES: On the Grand Mesa Plateau southeast of Grand Junction, some of the finest fishing waters in the state are found in the dozens of lakes, reservoirs and streams located here. Some 22 picnicking and camping areas, plus accommodations, boats, horses and guides. Contact the Delta Chamber of Commerce at (970) 874-8616. Location: From Delta, north on Highway 65.
GUNNISON RIVER: The Gunnison River provides some of the best trophy brown and rainbow trout fishing. Numerous fish over 16 inches can be caught, particularly in the middle stretch between Crystal Creek and the confluence with North Fork, but only foot access is available in this section. Location: Take Highway 92, 15 miles east of Delta to the Pleasure Forks turn-off (200 yards before crossing the railroad tracks). Foot access is down the Duncan, Ute, Chukar and Bobcat trails.
TAYLOR RIVER AND RESERVOIR: Excellent rainbow and brown trout fishing is available in the tailwater below Taylor Park Dam where some of the largest rainbows in the state can be found. Rainbows 10-14 inches are common. Trophy lake trout and northern pike are often caught, especially in May and June. Some opportunity exists for brown trout and kokanee salmon. Location: Northeast of Almont on Highway 742.
CONEJOS RIVER: The Conejos River is providing excellent fishing for wild brown and rainbow trout. Prolific hatches of stoneflies, caddisflies and mayflies occur from May through July. Best fishing follows snow runoff in late June and July. Special regulations apply to two stretches. Location: Lower section: from Antonito 16 miles west on Highway 17 to Aspen Glade Campground. Access is through fishing easements on private property. Upper section: from Antonito 21 miles west on Highway 17 to USFS Road 250. Drive 9 miles north to public land upstream of South Fork Conejos River Confluence.
HIGH MOUNTAIN LAKES: Numerous scenic small lakes above 10,000 feet in elevation provide excellent fishing for cutthroat, rainbow and brook trout. Trout in these pristine waters can be temperamental when feeding conditions are favorable. Most lakes require uphill hiking from 1-12 miles. Some better high mountain lakes are: Macey, Stout Creek, Lily, and Brush Creek lakes in the Sangre De Cristo Wilderness; and Ptarmigan and Pomeroy lakes in the Sawatch Range. Flies and small lures fished with light lines in the morning and evening is usually best. Location: San Isabel National Forest. Inquire at Division of Wildlife or Forest Service offices in Pueblo or Salida.
RIO GRANDE: The mighty Rio Grande begins its long journey to the Gulf of Mexico high in the San Juan. Look for good brown and rainbow trout fishing from Rio Grande Reservoir downstream to Del Norte. Fly-fishing is best June through July when stonefly and mayfly hatches dominate fish diets. The Gold Medal section from South Fork to Del Norte provides trophy brown trout. Location: West of Del Norte and north of South Fork to Creede. There is easy access to the river via highways 160 and 149. Much of the river is privately owned, but public access is excellent through numerous state leases.
ROAD CANYON RESERVOIR SWA: This is a productive cold-water reservoir loaded with brook and rainbow trout. Fishing is best in the spring months following ice melt. Easy access is allowed via USFS Road 520. Location: From Creede, 25 miles west on Highway 149 to USFS 520, then 4 miles west to reservoir.
SANCHEZ RESERVOIR SWA: Quality-sized yellow perch and trophy northern pike dominate the catch at this cool-water reservoir in the San Luis Valley with walleye also being caught. Fishing is best following ice melt in May and June. Popular lures include plastic jigs and crankbaits worked along the rocky shoreline. A concrete boat ramp and camping is allowed east of the boat ramp. Location: From San Luis, 3 miles east on Highway 152 to Highway 242, then 5.2 miles south. Anglers should take note of this mercury warning issued by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment.
Northern Pike Fishing