There are plenty of excellent fishing spots throughout Colorado. Lakes, reservoirs, and rivers are all fair game. However, before you set out, you’ll need to have a few things in order. Grab a Colorado fishing license, which become available each year on April 1st, and are valid until March 31st of the following year. You can also get one and five-day passes. Next, check conditions in various regions before leaving home. If you want to take your boat out on the water be sure to check out this list of boatable waters in Colorado. You’ll be able to see which bodies of water have amenities like boat ramps, restrooms, and the types of fish that are stocked.
There are plenty of fish species throughout Colorado, but some are more common than others. The Cutthroat Trout is the official state fish of Colorado, and rightfully so – it’s the state’s only indigenous variety of trout. Colorado’s reservoirs are most commonly stocked with Rainbow Trout, and other varieties of trout are abundant (namely Brown, Brook, and Lake Trout.) The most common types of fish will vary based on the region. For example, the Front Range tends to have excellent trout fishing. Reservoirs in the plains are renowned for walleye. Northwest Colorado also has fantastic trout fishing. Each part of the state has its fair share of waters that are wonderful for anglers. Pagosa Springs boasts that it has some of the best fishing in the entire state.
Fishing in Colorado is a year round activity. Each season has its perks and downsides, though. Summer tends to be extremely busy out on the water, but the crowds have usually thinned by fall. Fall is also a particularly great time for fly fishing, when snow melt is lowest and thus when the waters are at their lowest. During the winter months, ice fishing is popular in Colorado. Just check out this list of some of the best lakes for ice fishing in Colorado.
It’s amazing how much gear exists for fishing. Thankfully, you don’t need to go too crazy with equipment (unless you want to!) To start, get yourself a basic rod and reel. Choose an all-purpose setup that works for different types of fish to have the most versatility. Next, create a basic tackle box. Purchase a bait kit that includes different types of lures and artificial bait. From there, select some live bait hooks, a roll of fishing line, and perhaps some Powerbait if you’re aiming to catch trout and bass. Throw in a pocketknife and you’ll be all set. As far as clothing goes, waders are good to have for fishing in Colorado rivers or in places where shore access is hard to find. You can even purchase a padded seat cushion to make sitting for long periods of time a lot more comfortable.
If you’ve never gone fly-fishing before, but have been aching to give it a try, the best rule is to keep it simple. All you truly need is a rod, reel, line, and leader. Next, you’ll want a pair of snips to cut your line, a basic box of flies, and a few spools of different tippet material. Everything else is secondary. If you’re just starting out, check out these fantastic videos about beginning fly-fishing from Orvis. If you want to give fly-fishing a go, check out this list of 10 spots throughout Western Colorado.
Fishing in Colorado is truly a year round activity, and that includes ice fishing. You’ll obviously need more gear, like an ice auger or a drill to get through the ice. You can even use a hand drill in the beginning. Don’t forget a bucket or something to sit on, too!
The “best” fishing spots will largely depend on what you’re looking for. Proximity to home, ease of access, types of fish, and more will all influence opinion, and one person’s favorite will be another’s nightmare. The Colorado Fishing Network is an excellent resource to begin searching for that perfect spot. For example, if you’re making a trip to Summit County, Gore Creek is a recommended spot (and it’s easy to reach, right off of I-70 in Vail.) In the Gunnison region, Blue Mesa Reservoir boasts the biggest Kokanee Salmon fishery in the country. However, you’ll need fly-fishing equipment. Also note that all Rainbow Trout are catch and release, and there are restrictions on where you can fish and how many you can bag per day.
There are a decent number of lakes, streams, and reservoirs that have been over-fished throughout the years. That’s why it’s always prudent to check conditions before traveling in search of the perfect Colorado fishing spot. A reservoir could be barren one day and teeming with fish the next. If escaping crowds is an important requirement, you may want to stay away from popular places like Denver’s Cherry Creek Reservoir, Chatfield State Park in Littleton or Boulder’s Reservoir. Front Range locations are notoriously crowded, and trash can become an issue. Every spot tends to have its good days and bad days, so it depends on what you’re looking for from a day out on the water.