Fishing in Colorado is huge. It bosts about 6000 miles of rivers and streams and more than 2000 lakes and reservoirs for fishing. No matter what the weather and temperature are like, Colorado offers a wide range of fishing experiences for every angler. The state accounts for several gold- medal waters which offer the best spot for catching large fishes.
Colorado is one of the top places in the country for anglers no matter whether you fish on ice, fly fishing, etc. This state consists of a lot of fishes, trout to be particular. The rainbow, brown and cutthroat trouts of Colorado are the most popular around the world. The place is home to walleyes, wipers, mountain whitefish, Northern Pike, largemouth, and many more.
Before you fish out in Colorado, you need to get the fishing permit first. The permit is available through the Colorado Parks and Wildlife with a one day pass, five-day pass or an annual. If you are going on a fishing trip on your own, make sure that the site is open for public fishing and is not private property. The best time for fishing in Colorado would be during late spring to summer. The weather is favorable in autumn season too. Autumn would be the ideal time for fly fishing.
Below I have mentioned some of the top nine best places to fish in Colorado. These fishing spots offer you a perfect fishing destination with jaw-dropping scenic beauty.
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9 Best Places to Fish in Colorado
1. Animas River
The Animas is a beautiful trout fishing river surrounded by magnificent mountains. It is also one of the last free-flowing rivers in the state. The river lies in the city of Durango. So, fishermen who are in Durango can give a visit to the Animas River. The river is not only special for gold medal fishing, but it is also special as one of the few freestone fisheries in Colorado.
The city of Durango has the best access to Animas River. The river stretches up to 100 feet wide in some sections. You can mostly find brown and rainbow trout in the waters of Animas river and some of them are extremely large. A 20-pound trout was found here in the 1950s. The brown trouts might be very tricky to catch. But, you will catch a lot of rainbow trouts as they are frequently biting the hook.
2. Gunnison River
The Gunnison River consists of some of the best rainbow and brown trout fishing opportunities in Colorado. The river lies in the confluence of the East and Taylor Rivers at the small town of Almont. The Gold Medal Trout water section of the river goes through the Black Canyon in Gunnison National Park. Although the roads leading to canyon might be windy and steep, fishing here is worth it.
The upper section of the Gunnison includes great caddis and green drake hatches. The tributaries of the Gunnison River, Taylor River, in particular, is a great spot for fishing some giant trout. The Lake Fork is another special tributary that deserves your visit.
Blue Mesa is the largest reservoir in Colorado and is close to Gunnison River. It offers you with more fishing opportunities that hold the record for the largest lake brown, and rainbow trout.
3. The Frying Pan River, Basalt
The Frying Pan River gains an impressive international reputation for lure and fly- fishing. It is a small mountain trout stream before it enters the Ruedi Reservoir. The confluence between Ruedi River and Roaring Fork offers the best fishing location in this river. This spot offers you with clear water, plenty of fishes, and majestic views of glorious mountain vistas.
Reaching the Frying Pan River is pretty good. The river sits 14 miles between the dam and Basalt with 8.5 miles of public access for anglers. The state carefully manages the Frying Pan River in order to produce large wild trout. In most of the sections of the river, the anglers can catch up to 10 plus pound rainbow trouts. So, the site really gets crowded with fishermen standing just a few feet from each other.
If you want a peaceful day sport, you can move downstream to the quieter areas. You can also go upstream for a smaller stream fishing and less number of people. Some of the most popular species that you will find in the Frying Pan River are rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, cutthroat trout, and many others.
4. North Delaney Lake
North Delaney Lake is one of the three high mountains lakes. It sits near Walden in the Buttes State Wildlife Area. The lake is untouched by the outside world and surrounds itself with breathtaking views.
The cold water of the North Delaney lake makes a favorable environment for a healthy trout population. Some of the most famous species you can catch in this Gold Medal Lake are Brown trout, Cutthroat trout, Rainbow trout, etc. Most of the large trout in this lake feed on the callibaetis, damselflies, midges which hatch here throughout the spring and summer.
If you want to catch brown or cutthroat, fish from the shoreline on the windward side of the lake. The best time to fish for trout at this location is from mid to late summer. This place holds a catch and release policy when fishing. If you wish to fish all day in the North Delaney Lake, you can go on a no-wake boat during the middle of the day.
5. Chambers Lake
Chambers Lake sits close to the towns of Walden and Rustic. The lake is 250-acre man-made body of water. It lies about seven miles to the east of the top of Cameron Pass on Highway 14. The most commonly found fishes in Chambers Lake are rainbow and cutthroat trout. Along with these, you can also find lake trout and hard- fighting Kokanee salmon.
You can find lake trouts measuring up to 16- 18 inches. So, if you want to catch some of these, go for deeper areas with the right reel and other fishing gear. If you are really into catching some lake trouts, steep slopes on the east side of the lake can be a good spot. You can start early or late in the day to catch more fishes in the target.
Are you more into catching rainbow trouts? If your answer is yes, you can try the inlet bay. You can catch the Kokanee salmon by using medium-sized spinning reels and spoons. Small jigs will work when ice fishing. Trolling from the boat is the best way to fish in Chamber Lake during summer days.
6. Upper Arkansas River
The Upper Arkansas River lies near Leadville which is the country’s highest elevation city at over 10,000 feet above the sea level. The river flows through sub-alpine meadows, boulder-filled canyons, fields of hay and desert. This desert environment serves as the most popular destination for rainbow and brown trouts.
The city of Leadville offers fishermen with other plenty of attractions too. The 70 square blocks sit as a National History Landmark of Victorian architecture. This place enjoys a warm, dry climate throughout the year. So, this makes the location an ultimate fishing destination in the state.
Fishing in the Upper Arkansas River is easily accessible too. If you want to get the best from your visit, hiring a local guide would be the best option. Such guides will assist you in making a good catch and make your fishing experience memorable.
7. McPhee Reservoir
Are you a bass fishing enthusiast? If yes, you can find a great day sport at McPhee Reservoir. The McPhee Reservoir sits on the Dolores River which is close to the town of Dolores. The reservoir covers a surface area of around 4470 acres. It is home to several small and big mouth bass fishes. This particular fishing spot surrounds itself with lush jungles and stunning mountain scenery.
The McPhee Reservoir is one of the largest bodies of water in Colorado. It has a maximum water depth close to 270 feet near the dam. The river canyon, steep rocky banks, and vegetation make the McPhee Reservoir fishing spot easily accessible by boat. You can find several boating zones on different sides of canyons to accommodate still water fishing.
There is also the facility of renting a boat. If you bring your own craft, you need need to inspect the hull before launching. The McPhee Reservoir consists of different species of fishes such as Largemouth BASS, Smallmouth bass, Rainbow trout, Black crappie, Kokanee salmon, Walleye, Yellow perch, Northern pike, and many more.
The best time to fish in McPhee Reservoir is during late spring and early summer. Trout fishing is possible throughout the year. You can fish Walleye in the rip- rap along the Great Cut- Dike Dam.
8. Gore Creek
Do you want a fly fishing trip to the ski town of Vail? If yes, Gore Creek would be the perfect destination. Gore Creek is more than just a small stream. It is a gold medal large trout stream. This stream features great fishing spot for high-quality trout. So, this makes Gore Creek the most popular and best fishing spots in Colorado.
Fishing in Gore Creek is easily accessible via public parks. But, it may not be the quietest spot you will fish in Colorado. If you want to catch some large trout, you can head towards the Gold Medal section. Here, the Red Sandstone Creek enters the Gore, west of Vail and continues to Eagle River.
You can expect species such as Rainbow trout, Cutthroat trout, Brook trout, Brown trout, etc when fishing in Gore Creek. You can only use artificial lures and flies when fishing here. The minimum size for trout is 16 inches. The catch and keep limit is two. You can also fish in Gore Creek during the winter season. You can find plenty of hotel accommodation and restaurants this season.
9 Blue Mesa Reservoir
Blue Mesa Reservoir is the second largest body of water in Colorado. This reservoir sits near the Gunnison River in the Curecanti National Recreation Area. This reservoir is named the Blue Mesa Reservoir because of its luminous blue water. Fishing in Blue Mesa Reservoir is available throughout the year including ice fishing in winter seasons.
The Blue Mesa Reservoir has over 96 miles of shoreline. It is one of the favorite destinations among various fishermen.
While fishing in Blue Mesa Reservoir, you can find a shady spot to cast a line. You can also take a boat with you if you want to explore the reservoir by moving from one place to another. The most popular fishes found in Blue Mesa reservoir are brown trout, rainbow trout, and brook trout. You can also find Kokanee salmon and perch here.
Each region of Colorado consists of several lakes, rivers, and reservoirs which provide anglers with great fishing opportunities. Catching a large trout into your trap is not an easy task. You will need to do some research consult with some experts. Carrying appropriate fishing gear will also help you a lot when fishing in Colorado. A basic rod and reel can be a combo for starters.
I hope the above-reviewed places in Colorado will give the idea of choosing the perfect destination for fishing. Fishing in Colorado will definitely not disappoint you as the place holds some of the stunning scenic beauty.