Colorado: An Angler’s Paradise

Colorado stands out as one of the premier fishing destinations in the United States. Known for its majestic Rocky Mountains and crystal-clear rivers and lakes, the state offers unparalleled opportunities for anglers. The appeal of fishing in Colorado’s mountains lies not only in the diversity and abundance of fish species but also in the breathtaking natural beauty that surrounds these fishing spots.

This blog aims to guide avid anglers to some of the best mountain fishing locations in Colorado. Below, we’ll showcasing the variety of fish that can be caught and the unique experiences each spot has to offer. Whether you’re a seasoned fisherman or a novice, Colorado’s mountain waters promise an unforgettable adventure.

Colorado: An Angler’s Paradise
Colorado’s mountain waters offer anglers a paradise of fishing opportunities amidst some of the most breathtaking scenery in the United States.

Colorado’s 10 Best Fishing Spots

Colorado offers limitless fishing opportunities, so it’s hard to narrow it down to a concise list. But here are 10 of our favorites, in no particular order:

#1. Lake Estes

Located in Estes Park, Lake Estes is a prime fishing destination at the doorstep of Rocky Mountain National Park. The picturesque lake offers an opportunity to catch a variety of fish, including rainbow and brown trout, and yellow perch. The lake is easily accessible, making it a favorite spot for both local and visiting anglers. Lake Estes features several fishing piers and a well-maintained shoreline, providing ample space for casting. The surrounding scenery is breathtaking, with panoramic views of the Rockies enhancing the fishing experience. Whether you’re fishing from the shore or from a boat, the clear waters of Lake Estes are teeming with fish. Moreover, its proximity to the national park allows for an adventurous day of fishing coupled with Colorado’s most iconic landscapes.

#2. Blue River

Stretching from Breckenridge to the Green Mountain Reservoir, the Blue River is renowned for its Gold Medal fishing waters, a designation given to Colorado’s premier trout fisheries. The scenic river offers anglers a chance to catch brown trout, rainbow trout, and cutthroat trout in pristine, fast-moving waters. Fly fishing is particularly popular on the Blue River. There are numerous spots that present ideal conditions for this technique. The river’s clear, cold waters, fed by mountain snowmelt, create a perfect habitat for trout. It’s also a prime location for both novice and experienced anglers.

#3. Spinney Mountain Reservoir

Set in the expansive South Park basin near Fairplay, Spinney Mountain Reservoir is a coveted fishing spot. It is best known for its trophy-sized rainbow trout, brown trout, and northern pike. The reservoir’s high nutrient content and cold, clear waters create an ideal environment for these fish to thrive. Spinney Mountain Reservoir is particularly famous for its excellent fly fishing conditions, with expansive open water for long casts. The reservoir’s reputation for producing large trout makes it a favorite for those seeking a challenging and rewarding fishing experience.

In addition to its rich aquatic life, the area offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and rolling plains. Anglers can enjoy both open water fishing in the warmer months and ice fishing during the winter.

Colorado: An Angler’s Paradise
Whether you’re casting for trophy trout in Lake Estes, fly fishing on the Blue River, or exploring the remote reaches of the North Platte River, Colorado’s mountain waters promise an unforgettable fishing experience.

#4. Antero Reservoir

Located between Fairplay and Hartsel in South Park, Antero Reservoir is a renowned destination for anglers seeking abundant fishing opportunities. The reservoir, with its shallow waters and rich aquatic vegetation, provides an excellent habitat for rainbow trout, brown trout, and cutthroat trout. Moreover, fish grow to impressive sizes here. Antero is particularly famous for its nutrient-rich waters and robust insect population, making it an ideal spot for fly fishing.

The stunning backdrop of the surrounding mountain ranges adds to the appeal, offering a tranquil and scenic environment for fishing. Anglers can fish from the shore or from boats, enjoying the reservoir’s relatively calm and clear waters. Additionally, Antero Reservoir is accessible year-round, with ice fishing being a popular activity during the winter months.

#5. Gore Creek

Gore Creek, flowing through the heart of Vail, offers a premier fishing experience. This clear, fast-moving stream is renowned for its population of brown trout, rainbow trout, and brook trout. Anglers are drawn to Gore Creek for its accessibility and the variety of fishing environments it offers, from tranquil stretches to more challenging riffles and runs. The creek’s proximity to Vail makes it a convenient destination for both locals and visitors. It’s an ideal spot to combine world-class fishing with other recreational activities.

Fly fishing is particularly popular on Gore Creek, thanks to its clear waters that make for excellent sight fishing. The surrounding scenery, with lush forests and the majestic Gore Range in the background, adds to the creek’s allure.

#6. North Platte River

The North Platte River, winding through the remote and beautiful North Park near Walden, is a hidden gem for anglers. The river is celebrated for its populations of brown trout, rainbow trout, and cutthroat trout. The North Platte River’s relatively secluded location means fewer crowds, allowing for a peaceful and immersive fishing adventure.

The river’s varied sections offer a mix of fishing environments, from serene pools to fast-moving riffles. It’s an ideal spot for both fly fishing and traditional angling techniques. Anglers often find success with dry flies, nymphs, and streamers, thanks to the rich insect life. The scenic beauty of North Park, with its wide-open spaces and backdrop of the Medicine Bow and Park Range mountains, enhances the experience.

Colorado: An Angler’s Paradise
From pristine alpine lakes to rushing mountain streams, the state’s diverse aquatic ecosystems support a wide variety of fish species, making it a haven for anglers of all skill levels.

#7. Taylor River

Located in Gunnison County, the Taylor River is a premier Colorado fishing destination known for its stunning scenery and abundant trout populations. Flowing out of the Taylor Park Reservoir, the river is a tailwater fishery that boasts cold, clear waters ideal for supporting large rainbow trout, brown trout, and cutthroat trout. Anglers flock to the Taylor River for its trophy trout, with fish often reaching impressive sizes due to the river’s rich food supply and optimal habitat conditions.

The river offers diverse fishing environments making it suitable for a variety of fishing techniques, particularly fly fishing. The stretch of river below the dam is especially renowned for its challenging yet rewarding fishing. (The trout here are known to be both large and wily.)

#8. Fryingpan River

Flowing through the town of Basalt, the Fryingpan River is a world-renowned fly fishing destination. This Gold Medal river is celebrated for its populations of brown trout, rainbow trout, and brook trout. Anglers are drawn to the Fryingpan River for its challenging yet rewarding fishing conditions, with trout known for their size and strength.

The river is particularly famous for its prolific hatches of aquatic insects, including mayflies, caddisflies, and midges. (It’s a haven for dry fly fishing enthusiasts.) The Fryingpan River’s consistent water flows, regulated by the Ruedi Reservoir, ensure excellent fishing conditions year-round.

#9. Upper Arkansas River

The Upper Arkansas River, winding its way from Buena Vista to Leadville, offers anglers a diverse Colorado fishing experience. The scenic river is renowned for its populations of brown trout, rainbow trout, and cutthroat trout. The Upper Arkansas River provides a variety of fishing environments, from calm pools to fast-moving riffles and runs, offering opportunities for both fly fishing and traditional angling techniques.

One of the highlights of fishing on the Upper Arkansas River is its accessibility. There are numerous public access points along its length providing easy entry for anglers. The river’s clear, cold waters, fed by mountain snowmelt, create ideal habitat conditions for trout. The surrounding landscape of towering peaks, lush forests, and meandering valleys adds to the river’s allure.

Colorado: An Angler’s Paradise
Mountain fishing in Colorado is an experience like no other, combining the thrill of the catch with the serene beauty of nature. The state’s mountain regions offer a diverse array of aquatic ecosystems, from fast-flowing rivers to tranquil alpine lakes, each teeming with a variety of fish species.

#10. Lake Granby

Situated in Grand County near Granby, Lake Granby is the second-largest reservoir in the state. It offers anglers an expansive and diverse Colorado fishing experience amidst breathtaking mountain scenery. This vast lake is home to a variety of fish species, including lake trout, rainbow trout, and brown trout, making it a popular destination for anglers seeking trophy-sized catches. Lake Granby’s deep waters and nutrient-rich environment provide ideal habitat conditions for trout, ensuring a productive and rewarding fishing experience.

One of the highlights of fishing on Lake Granby is the opportunity for both shore fishing and boat fishing, with numerous access points and marinas scattered along its shoreline. Anglers can cast from the banks or venture out onto the lake in boats or kayaks to explore its many fishing hotspots. Additionally, the lake’s proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park adds to its allure, offering anglers the chance to combine fishing with other outdoor activities such as hiking and wildlife viewing.

Additional Noteworthy Fishing Spots

While the top 10 fishing spots in Colorado’s mountains offer exceptional angling experiences, there are several additional noteworthy locations that deserve recognition for their unique characteristics and abundant fish populations. Here are three that just barely missed our Top 10.

  1. Eleven Mile Reservoir: Eleven Mile Reservoir stands out as a premier destination for anglers seeking trophy-sized northern pike. You can also fish for rainbow trout and cutthroat trout. This expansive reservoir, located near Lake George, provides ample opportunities for both boat and shore fishing, with plenty of secluded coves and inlets to explore.
  2. Big Thompson River: The Big Thompson River, near Loveland, offers accessible and rewarding fishing opportunities for anglers of all levels. This scenic river is stocked with brown trout and rainbow trout. The river presents a chance to catch a variety of fish against the backdrop of picturesque mountain scenery.
  3. Crystal River: For those seeking a more remote and secluded fishing experience, the Crystal River in the Roaring Fork Valley is a hidden gem. This pristine river, known for its crystal-clear waters and challenging fishing conditions, is home to brown trout, rainbow trout, and cutthroat trout. Anglers can enjoy the tranquility of this remote river while casting for trophy-sized trout amidst breathtaking mountain vistas.
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