Best Fishing In Colorado – 10 Spots You Can’t Miss

Fishing is an outdoor sport that is easily accessible, fun and can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of their experience level. All you need is some fishing gear and a good place to fish, and Colorado has an endless supply of epic fishing spots. That’s all you need and you are good to relax your mind and enjoy th great outdoors and landscape of Colorado!

Fatty fishes like salmon and trout are considered some of the healthiest fishes to eat, they’re also some of best fish to catch because of the fight they both put up. And in Colorado you can find both types of fish, including bass in an abundance of lakes and rivers! There are 8000 miles of rivers and approximately 2000 lakes which gives anglers, fly-fishers, pure rod-and-reelers, and ice-fisherman alike a massive variety of fishing opportunities. The western state of Colorado is a terrific place to fly fish, shore fish, or fish from a  boat and enjoy a wonderful evening with friends or family.

If you want to know some of the best places to visit in Colorado to fish, then read on below!

Best Fishing In Colorado

To fish in Colorado, you need a fishing license. One day and five-day passes are also permitted through purchase from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Some of the fish that you will find in the ever-blue water of Colorado’s lakes, rivers and streams are Cutthroat Trout, Brown Trout, Kokanee Salmon, Quillback, Razorback Suck Mountain Whitefish, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, and Lake Trout. And this isn’t even half of the fishes you will find dropping your hook into Colorado fishing!

Residing in Northern Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park is known for its Trail Ridge Road, The Old Fall River Road and exuberant drives through the aspen trees and the rivers. The park contains not only the protected mountains but also Alpine Tundra and forests. With exceptional views and landscape, this is truly one of the can’t miss places to fish in Colorado. I know its hard to call this one fishing “spot”, but there are so many amazing places to fish in Colorado we needed to group this into one!

The Cutthroat Trout is one of the most popular fish caught by anglers fishing in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain park. Other than that, you will find Greenback Cutthroat, Suckers, Sculpins and Colorado River Cutthroat which are considered as native species to the park. Rocky Mountain National park yields some of the best trout fishing in Colorado and is a place that has to be at the top of your bucket list!

The park is open for a visit throughout the year. Though, due to warm sunny days and chilly nights, summers have frequent visitors as compared to other seasons. In winter, tourists come to the park for cross-country skiing and snow. Spring brings with it loads of wildflower blooms which make the whole park vibrant and colorful.

Top Trout Fishing Spots in Rocky Mountain National Park

Spirit Lake

If you’re a hardcore angler and you’re looking for a remote spot that you need to hike into, this is a great place to check out. You’ll have to make an overnight trip out of it, but this lake off the East Inlet Trail is an epic place for trout fishing.

Onahu Creek

This is a favorite river to fish in Colorado among anglers due to its accessibility and stunning views you get. This is well known in Colorado as a river you can easily fish for Brown, Brook, and Colorado River trout. 

Lock Lake

A protected lake with a ton of coves that give you a little bit of shelter from the elements, Loch Lake is a perfect fly fishing spot for all skill levels and it is loaded with greenback trout and brook trout so your hook will stay busy!

Roaring River

A fast moving lake with plenty of challenges for experienced fly fisherman, this gives way to some of the great spots to wade in and catch a huge variety of trout including rainbow, greenback, brook, and brown!

Types of Fish in Rocky Mountain Park

Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Brook Trout, Colorado River Trout, Greenback Trout

Grand Lake Fishing Colorado

Grand Lake is the deepest and largest lake in the state of Colorado. It is situated on the North shore of the statutory town of Grand Lake in Grand County. Grand Lake has a surface water length of over sixty miles, with a ton of amazing boat or shore fishing spots along the shoreline! The lake is the end result of runoff from the Pinedale Glaciations, the lake also has another name –The Spirit Lake, given to it by the Ute Tribe. They believe that the cold water of the lake is the resting place of many departed souls.

When it comes to having fun, Grand Lake offers a number of fun activities like boating and hiking to its visitors in addition to the countless fishing opportunities. The lake is near to restaurants that serve delicious food and shops that offer many aritisan and hand crafted products! Grand Lake is an ideal fishing spot in Colorado and a must visit if you’re looking for a great family trip!

The lake gives its visitors the best fishing experiences in Colorado one could ask for. You will be able to find a number of fish in the deep waters of the lake. Some of the fishes include Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Kokanee Salmon, Mackinaw, and the German Brown Trout.

Winters are particularly popular for the world class ice fishing Grand Lake offers, with tons of opportunities to do it yourself or find a fishing company. Spirit Lake Outfitters is a company that gives guided fishing trips on the lake from fly-fishing to ice-fishing, they have the experience and the equipment to help you get a big, juicy trout.

Grand Lake Fishing Tips

  • With the depths of Grand Lake, it is a great opportunity to troll with down riggers and lures to land some monster lake trout over 20 lbs!
  • For anglers looking to fish from the shore, crank baits are hugely successful especially if you’re looking to land Brown Trout
  • Fishing with spinners near the east inlet of Grand Lake is a highly touted spot to catch rainbows in abundance

Types of Fish in Grand Lake

Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Kokanee Salmon, Mackinaw

The second largest lake in the state of Colorado, Lake San Cristobal is located in the San Juan Mountains at the height of 9,003 feet above sea level. The freshwater lake is close to 90 feet deep in some spots and only 2.1 miles long, giving you a nice, isolated fishing experience high up in the mountains! The lake was formed as a result of a natural landslide around 700 years ago.

Lake San Cristobal gives you fishing opportunities year round with ice fishing in the winter and fly fishing or casting in the summer! Fishing, boating, and last but not the least camping are some of the most popular activities people enjoy at this amazing mountain lake. The abundance of trout and the breathtaking views of lake San Cristobal make this one of the best fishing spots in Colorado!

Some of the fish you will find in lake San Cristobal are rainbow trout, brook trout, lake trout, cutthroat trout, kokanee salmon and brown trout. You can catch these fish from any of the publicly accessible areas on the shore or you can take a boat out and try to land a nice 20 lb trophy trout!

The best time to fish according to the veteran anglers is late April or early May. Thus, if you are planning a spring fishing trip in Colorado, lake San Cristobal should definitely be considered in your options!

Lake San Cristobal Fishing Tips

  • There are tons of opportunities for baitcasting, fly fishing, or trolling on this lake so anglers can pick their favorite technique and let fly in lake San Cristobal
  • There are tons of small creeks and rivers that drain into lake San Cristobal that are perfect for fly fishing, make sure to check for public access as there is quite a bit of private property around the area

Types of Fish in Lake San Cristobal

Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Kokanee Salmon, Lake Trout, Cutthroat Trout

Fishing in Lake San Cristobal

Dillon Reservoir resides in Summit County, Colorado and it is a freshwater reservoir that is also known as Lake Dillon. Some of the activities that will make your visit a memorable one include hiking trails, kite-surfing, windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing, skiing and some of the best fishing in Colorado. Therefore, if you are looking for a small getaway from the daily stresses of city life, Lake Dillon is the perfect place to embrace the natural beauty that Colorado has to offer. 

The lake homes the mighty Kokanee Salmon, Rainbow Trout, Arctic Char, and Brown Trout along with ome smallmouth bass. Typically, trout love the cold and clear waters and their presence in the Dillon reservoir has been the major reason this place tops some of the best fishing spots to visit in Colorado. The Dillon Reservoir is one of only two lakes in the lower 48 that you can fish Arctic Char!

The fishing ecosystem has gradually improved over the years which has contributed to the growing popularity of the Dillon Reservoir as a fishing and vacation destination. The most popular time to come and fish is definitely the summer due to the numerous other outdoor activities you can take in, but ice fishing is still a great time to catch some fish!

Dillon Reservoir Fishing Tips

  • Lake Dillon is stocked annually with rainbow trout, and the chances of catching one of these glorious fish are really high
  • If you want to try and catch an Arctic char, fishing from a boat is the best option as your lures need to be quite deep to attract some bites
  • Using Brown or Rainbow trout imitation lures have been found effective to landing trout on this lake

Types of Fish in Dillon Reservoir

Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Kokanee Salmon, Arctic Char, Smallmouth Bass

Blue Mesa Reservoir Fishing

The upper reaches of the Gunnison River which is in Gunnison County in Colorado is home to an artificial reservoir named Blue Mesa Reservoir. Holding the title of being the largest lake completely in the state, the Reservoir came into being as a result of the construction of the Blue Mesa Dam which is a 390-feet tall and a great sight to check out.

It also holds the title of being the largest fishery particularly for Kokanee Salmon and the Lake Trout in the state of Colorado. Apart from being an exceptional fishing paradise for anglers, it offers a number of activities such as boating, hunting, hiking, horseback riding, camping, and boating.

The lake has Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Lake Trout, Kokanee Salmon, and the Yellow Perch swimming in its clear blue water. It has a 96 miles long shoreline and runs 20 miles long with many access points to some of the best fishing spots in Colorado!

Blue Mesa Reservoir is frozen during the winter season till late spring which is considered the best time for ice-fishing. Furthermore, Rainbow and Brown Trouts can be fished throughout the year but the best time to catch them is mid-April till early June and then again, in October till November.

If you are an angler and want an action-filled adventure, you will love fishing the Blue Mesa reservoir, especially in December till March when you won’t be able to keep up with the bites you’re getting!

Blue Mesa Reservoir Fishing Tips

  • If you’re fishing for Kokanee salmon, the best tactic to land these beauties is trolling from a boat with a down-rigger, and testing out colorful lures
  • Lake trout can be caught in abundance with a number of methods, casting from shore or trolling the deep parts of the lakes all give you a great shot at landing a big lake trout
  • If you’re looking to do some fly fishing at Blue Mesa reservoir, the Gunnison river gives you a great shot at landing rainbow or brown trout 

Types of Fish in Blue Mesa Reservoir

Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Kokanee Salmon, Lake Trout, Yellow Perch

Best Cities for Fishing in Colorado

If you are planning to visit Colorado for a few days, you need to stay at places that give you close access to some of the best fishing spots in Colorado. The following five places offer good fishing sites, ample recreation activities, and an array of restaurants with mouth-watering food!

1. Gunnison, Colorado Fishing

Gunnison city currently has a population of 5854 people and is a very popular fishing destination due to the easy access to tons of different rivers and lakes. The Crystal Mill, Gunnison National Forest, Pioneer Museum, Blue Mesa Fishing, and the Curecanti National Recreation Area are some of the most renowned places in the municipality when it comes to tourists and visitors.

The Gunnison Valley has beautiful brown trout, rainbow trout, lake trout, and the kokanee salmon. The valley has many lakes, river, and streams which offer some of the best fishing opportunities in Colorado. The biggest water body in the state, the Blue Mesa Reservoir, resides just 10 minutes from this particular city and hence, is one of the most visited places by anglers from all around the world. The Taylor River and the East River are also close by which gives you abundant opportunities for fly fishing and landing some huge trout!

The residents of the city experience cold, chilly winds at night while the days are moderately hot. This is due to the fact that the city resides at the bottom of a valley which also makes it one of the coldest places in the U.S, perfect for trout! Gunnison also has moderate snowfalls per year even in early autumn and late spring and can remain on the ground from November till April.

Fishing Spots near Gunnison, Colorado

  • Blue Mesa Reservoir
  • Taylor River
  • East River
  • Crystal Reservoir
  • Cochetopa Creek

2. Durango, Colorado Fishing

Durango is a city located in the Southwest part of the Colorado state, near the border of New Mexico. The city is famous for its 19th-century heritage railroad steam train that passes through the canyons and the mountains. The city also homes a railroad museum that displays many kinds of locomotives and aircraft. 

Some other attractions in the city include the Animas River Valley which offers fly fishing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, boating and canoeing. The Purgatory Resort is also a great option for lodging, ski rentals, dining, shopping, and the Music in the Mountains festival in the summers.

You can find rainbow trout, Walleye, Brown Trout, Kokanee Salmon and the Cutthroat Trout in the many rivers, lakes, and streams of Durango. If you’re looking to catch some monster Norther Pike, the spot to fish is Vallecito Lake. One of the best fly fishing opportunities in Colorado is only accessible from Durango in the summer, High-Country streams has a ton of different options and is widely considered some of the best trout fly fishing in Colorado. 

The most frequent time to visit the city is the summers when the weather is warm and pleasant whereas early springs are famous for skiing opportunities.

Fishing Spots near Durango, Colorado

  • Animas River
  • Electra Lake
  • Pine River
  • Piedra River
  • Vallecito Lake

3. Estes Park, Colorado Fishing

The Este Park is a town in the Northern portion of Colorado and it is famous for its easy access to Rocky Mountain National Park and its many trails with scenic views and exotic wildlife. The Trail Ridge Road of the park passes through many mountainous peaks, tundra, and forests which makes it an ideal location for hiking and camping.

The city only has a population of 6339 but offers literally millions of outdoor activities that will keep your vacation as lively and fun as possible. In the city of Este Park, you can take a ride on the Aerial Tramway, visit the famous Stanley Hotel, or take a kayak out on Lake Estes to catch a ton of trout! If you’re looking for some of the best fly fishing in Colorado, Estes Park has tons of options for fishing in rivers or streams at different altitudes. There are a lot of opportunities to hike to rivers and streams, but the higher you go the fish typically get smaller in size!

Fishes like the brown trout, brook trout, rainbow trout, Greenback Cutthroat, and Colorado River Cutthroat are common in the area.

Fishing Spots near Estes Park, Colorado

  • Mills Lake
  • Clacier Creek
  • Dream Lake
  • Roaring River
  • Upper Thompson River

The city of Vail is famous for different events throughout the year. In summers, it is the perfect getaway for hiking, fishing, golfing and various cultural festivals whereas in the winter, people come from all over to experience the world class skiing. Gore Creek, a tributary of the Eagle River, runs through the town’s center and offers some of the best opportunities to do some fly fishing in Colorado. 

Vail is a small town that is present at the bottom of the great Vail Mountain with a population of only 5450 people. The economy of the town depends heavily upon tourism and more particularly on winter sports. Though it offers an array of recreational activities to its visitors, it is also evolving as a cultural center and culinary center of Colorado. 

When it comes to fishing in Vail, you will find natural lakes and rivers surrounded by mountains providing you with not only an amazing fishing spot but also a beautiful view that relaxes your mind as well as your eyes. This is widely considered one of the best cities for fishing in Colorado, with two of the most popular places being the Dillon Reservoir and the Colorado River. Some of the fish you will find are a huge variety of trout like the brook, rainbow, brown and cutthroat trout but also the extremely rare Arctic Char. 

The most popular season estimated by the influx of tourists is the cold, chilly and snow-filled winters till March. Summers are also quite busy as it provides many opportunities for rafting, hiking, fishing, and boating.

Fishing Spots near Vail, Colorado

  • Blue River
  • Colorado River
  • Eagle River
  • Ten Mile Creek
  • Dillon Reservoir

The town of Basalt began as a railroad town and has now become one of the best spots for fly fishing in Colorado, due to its close access to three amazing gold medal streams! Located between the Aspen and the Glenwood Springs, Basalt offers a myriad of recreational and fun activities all the while maintaining its quintessential charm. It is widely considered as a ‘Fishing Paradise’, especially for experienced anglers. 

Basalt is famous for its Gold Medal Trout Fishing in the rivers of ‘Frying Pan’ and ‘Roaring Fork’. The town also has a number of trails which makes it a perfect place for a hiking or a camping trip with the whole family, when you’re taking a break from the epic Colorado fishing.

You will find an endless number of fish depending on the location and river you choose to fish in. In warm waters, you will find largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and channel catfish whereas the coldwater accommodate the cutthroat, brown, lake and the rainbow trout and as well as the kokanee salmon. This is a can’t miss fishing destination, and if you’re a hardcore fly fisherman this offers some of the best rivers and fishing in Colorado. 

Fishing Spots near Basalt, Colorado

  • Roaring Fork River
  • Frying Pan River
  • Colorado River
  • Crystal River

Wrapping Up The Best Fishing in Colorado

Fishing is one of the most tranquil yet exhilarating sports out there, there is something about being in the middle of the wilderness catching wild fish that is really enhanced when fishing in Colorado. If you talk to any angler, Colorado will come up as one of the top states for fishing in the US and especially fly fishing, due to its abundance of mountain lakes teeming with trout and kokanee salmon. It is also has one of two lakes in the lower 48 of the United States that you can fish Arctic Char, which attracts anglers from all over the world to fish the Dillon Reservoir. 

We hope this article was insightful in providing you some of the top locations and cities in the state, to give you the best fishing spots in Colorado!