Fishing in Colorado

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Written by Cassidy Barnes posted on Thursday, February 25th, 2010

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Anglers of all kinds love Colorado for its plethora of fishing opportunities. From mountain streams to reflective reservoirs, Colorado has some of the most beautiful spots for fishermen to catch gold medal swimmers.

Fly-fishing for trout near Telluride. (Matt Inden/Colorado Tourism Office)

Trout is the overwhelmingly most caught fish in the state, with rainbow, brown, brook and cutthroat trout. Check up on local rules and regulations before casting and good luck!

Read below for a few Colorado fishing hot spots.

The South Platte River
Just outside of Denver, the South Platte is a great place to fly-fishing for trout. It’s a popular spot, so the fish are used to the usual tricks, but still bite when new flies float at the top. Get creative tying! The river flows through several lakes and reservoirs on its trip across Colorado. The most popular and productive section is below the Cheesman Reservoir and Dam. Another place for catching immense rainbow and brown trout is below Spinney Mountain Reservoir.

The Frying Pan River
The Frying Pan is outside of Basalt, Colorado and is known for its big rainbows, and not the kind in the sky. Summer brings fly-fishers from every corner of the country, but the crowd thins during the fall, winter and spring. The river comes down from Deer Mountain at over 13,000 feet and slows by Basalt. It’s a clear and cold river with very consistent trout fishing. Below the Ruedi Reservoir is the river’s tail-water section. It’s a wide section with very cold water, which protects the trout from warm summer temperatures and facilitates the hatching of mayflies, caddis and stoneflies. Rainbow trout have been caught in the river that weigh over 10 pounds!

The Animas River
This is a beautiful river south of Durango, Colorado. Following Route 550 north of the New Mexico border, the river flows through a riverbed full of boulders some giant, some pebbles. The river is well populated with rainbows, browns and even a few cutthroat and brook trout. The part of the river by Durango is the most popular, for its easy and superb fishing. The water is highly oxygenated and the pressure is much lighter than on many other Colorado Rivers, making this a fishing hot spot. Trout average 13-15 inches, but come even bigger!

The Gunnison River
This river has easily-accessed parts above the town of Gunnison, Colorado and harder to reach parts in the Black Canyon. The two areas are a lesson in contrasts. The upper stretch is a classical freestone stream. The lower bends rush through Black Canyon and Gunnison Gorge. The only way to reach the river in these parts is by steep hiking trails through ravines or by floating down the river itself. Between the two sections, you’ll find four lakes with deep water and good fisheries. Anglers can expect to catch brown, rainbow, cutthroat and brook trout.

The Roaring Fork River
This river is a fork in the mighty Colorado River. Trout fishermen have 75 miles of water to play in, 65 of which are shallow enough to wade in. The river flows west-northwest down from Independence Pass close to Aspen to Glenwood Springs, Colorado. From Aspen’s Hallum Lake to Upper Woody Creek Bridge, the river is classified as Wild Trout Waters and Gold Medal Waters. Access the river via the Rio Grand Trail on the north side of the river. In the section from Carbondale to Glenwood Springs, the Roaring Fork converges with the Crystal River and gets significantly bigger. Fish from the banks, wade in parts, or float to catch your fill of trout. Note: Don’t confuse this river with the Roaring Fork Creek, which flows into Lake Granby.

The Dolores River
This river is located southwest of Telluride, Colorado. The McPhee Dam changed this river from a lazy, swollen, warm water river to the technical fishing spot that it is today, a cold, brisk tail-water. It’s had its ups and downs through the years, but has rebounded well recently. Fishing in the Dolores is a technical challenge for experts and visitors. Much of it is catch and release, so check before you take any trout home. The best time to fish the Dolores is in the summer and fall.

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