Fishing is much more than casting and retrieving and playing your catch. It’s the wind in your face and the sound of early morning birds as the sun peeks over the horizon. It’s discovering the magic in each new place and unlocking the mysteries that lurk there, both above and below the surface.
1. Upper Arkansas River (Gold Medal)
Over 102 miles from the confluence with the Lake Fork of the Arkanas near Leadville to Cañon City, the Arkansas River drops nearly 5,000 feet in elevation and passes from sub-alpine meadows through bouldered canyons and irrigated hayfields before entering Bighorn Sheep Canyon below Salida. There, the river transects a high-desert environment that is home to its namesake sheep as well as a population of wild brown trout and introduced rainbows. With a warm and dry climate throughout the year and nearly 40 miles of public fishing access, Bighorn Sheep Canyon is the Arkansas’ prime fly-fishing destination. Flows are supportive of wade fishing most of the year, and float fishing has become an increasingly popular way to work the shoreline pockets favored by brown trout. Fish: Rainbow trout, brown trout Directions: From Salida, drive east on US 50. The canyon continues east beside the river for roughly 40 miles.
We’re also home to the headwaters for some of the nation’s mightiest rivers. (See our list of Colorado rivers for rafting.) Plus, there’s the prospect of landing a trophy-sized trout or hooking a powerful pike in these waters. So grab your life jacket and a big floppy hat; we’ll reveal a couple of the most promising of Colorado lakes and reservoirs. And read about some of Colorado’s best beaches and lakeside lodging.
1. Mt. Evans Trout Fishing, Idaho Springs
Just 45 minutes west of Denver, you’ll find the charming Grandma & Grandpa’s Fishing Pond. The generously stocked pond teams with rainbow trout ready to bite. Children of all ages will also get a kick out of the resident reindeer, gentle creatures that are always happy to see visitors. Extend your trip in one of the overnight cabins and make the short drive to the Mount Evans Scenic Byway. (Since it’s privately owned, there’s no license needed to fish here.)
Colorado fishing licenses are available the first of April each year and are good through March 31 of the following year. One-day and five-day passes can also be purchased through Colorado Parks & Wildlife. For inspiration, check out or video of fishers on the Gold Medal waters of the Roaring Fork River near Basalt, Carbondale, Aspen and Snowmass.
Region by region, here are a few quick details on where to find good fishing in Colorado.
Looking for an uncrowded fishing experience, with the rewards of large trout? There are several private fishing waters in Colorado, offering opportunities on lakes and streams. Several guide services also have access to some nice private waters!
|Arkansas River Fly Shop||719-539-3474||7500 U S Hwy 50||SALIDA||81201|
|Boxwood Gulch on the S. Platte||303-838-2465||Hwy 285||SHAWNEE||80475|
|Colorado Fly Fishing Adventures||303-916-8357||34375 US Hwy 285||PINE JUNCTION||80470|
|Colorado Trout Hunters||303-325-5515||7699 S Waverly Mountain||LITTLETON||80127|
|Minturn Anglers||855-311-0248||102 Main St||MINTURN||81645|
|Minturn Anglers||720-851-4665||11020 S Pikes Peak # 140||PARKER||80138|
|Mountain Angler||800-453-4669||311 S Main||BRECKENRIDGE||80424|
|North Fork Ranch||303-838-9873||55395 US Hwy 285||SHAWNEE||80475|
|South Park Fly Fishers||719-748-1494||SOUTH PARK|
Colorado has many river and lake locations which offer accessible fishing with facilities such as handicapped fishing piers, paved trails, and wheelchair access.
A great list of accessible fishing areas is maintained through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Select the region below to find accessible fishing access near you:
Where to take the kids fishing? Here are a few ideas and resources:
- Steamboat Springs – Fethcer’s Pond and Casey’s Pond
- Fraser- Lions Club Fishing Pond
- Rifle – Lion’s Park
- Manitou Springs – several areas including Schryver Pond
- Ft. Collins – Sheldon lake (City Park)
- Boulder – Pierson Pond
- Colorado State Parks
- Most Colorado State Parks have fishing lakes and most have ‘kid-friendly’ areas
- State Park Website
What are Gold Medal waters? These fishing areas have been designated by the Colorado Wildlife Commission as providing great spots to catch those large trout. These waters are defined as being able to produce 60 pounds of trout per acre, and at least twelve 14″ or larger trout per acre. Only 322 miles of Colorado’s 9000 miles of trout streams, and three lakes, carry the “Gold Medal” signature. Check for local regulations, and get permission to fish on private lands.
Click for on the map or the links below for descriptions, directions, and maps to these Gold Medal spots.
|North Delaney Lake|
|North Platte River|
|Roaring Fork River|
|South Platte River|
|Spinney Mountain Reservoir|