Where Is The Best Fly Fishing In Colorado?


Where is the best fly fishing in Colorado the answer is everywhere? Colorado is a state that is known for its’ excellent fly fishing opportunities. Did you know Colorado has more than 6,000 miles of river and over two thousand lakes and reservoirs to fish?

Colorado has some of the best fly fishing that can be found anywhere.

There are a lot of these Fisheries that are first class and are located only a small distance from Denver Colorado.

Fly fishing men and women from around the world cannot resist the urge to try to catch these trophy fish. When you fly fish are there over 30 plus different species to try and to catch.

In most lakes, streams and the reservoirs the rainbow, cutthroat, and brown trout are all plentiful.

In the Mountain Streams in higher elevations, there are normally brook trout along with rainbow trout.

In the deeper Mountain Lakes you can usually find lake trout or Mackinaw.

The mountain lake Grayling is unique because it has a large dorsal fin.

Colorado also has carp, Mountain Whitefish, Hawkeye, yellow perch, large and smallmouth bass, Kokanee that is one of Colorado’s landlocked salmon.

There are several different watersheds in the Denver Frontage range each of these has its own characteristics and opportunities.  

Popular Denver fly fishing Waters include a separately identified section along with the Tomahawk, Hartsville, Dream Stream, Urban Denver, Cheesman Canyon, Decker, Clear Creek, Badger Basin, and Bear Creek.

The Blue River runs into and out of the Dillon Reservoir. The Colorado River boasts just about every available ranging in size and average between 12 to 16 in.  

Eagle River starts near Leadville and runs to Glenwood where it joins with the Colorado River.

Fly Fishing Locations In Western Colorado:

Frying Pan River:

Frying Pan River
Frying Pan River photo courtesy of Curt Smith from Bellevue, WA, USA

Did you know that the Roaring Fork Valley has over 40 miles of catch-and-release gold medal waters. These waters are on the Frying Pan along with the Roaring Fork rivers that run between Basalt and Aspen. There are some great fishing opportunities on the Crystal River along with the Colorado River near Glenwood Springs.  Basalt is the only town in America that has two gold medal rivers that run through it. Another good site that you don’t want to miss is on the Ruedi Reservoir Dam on the spillway side of the stream. The forced water that runs out of the dam forces the large insects down to the bottom of the river. The fish have learned to help themselves on all of these flies which helps them grow to a big size. The Crystal River is over 30 miles of fishing Waters that run from Carbondale to Marble this is often overlooked. This can be a great stream if you just want some solitude and relaxing time.

Wolford Mountain Reservoir:  

Wolford Mountain Reservoir
Wolford Mountain Reservoir Coutesy of Jeffrey Beall

Can you imagine a body of water is just laying there flaccid and bathed in sunshine on a Colorado Plateau?  

Can you envision your fly rod bending until you think it is going to break as you struggle to lift the 16-inch rainbow trout?

This happens a lot here every day because the fishing is so good. You should try to make use of the manicured boat ramp it has such easy launch areas.

Then take your boat and go because it has over 66,000 surface acres of water to fish or play. When you get tired of fishing in your boat you can go to your campsite there are 48 full-service sites.  

They are complete with electricity along with a dump station, shelter, and bathrooms

Trappers Lake:  

Trappers Lake
Trappers Lake furnished by Bradleyboulder at the English Wikipedia

Trapper’s lake is a piece of easily accessible wilderness, this is where the Pines ring the lake in deep green. Swarms of gnats and mosquitoes are the food of choice for this lakes cutthroat trout. They are touted as having the largest populations of cutthroat trout in the world. Trappers Lake is Colorado’s second largest natural lake, it provides plenty of room for the cutthroat to roam. The best way to fish this dream body of water is by a non-motorized boat or float tube. Most of the insects emerge at dusk so you need to try casting a gnat shaped fly in the evening.

Yampa River State Park:  

This is one of the most prolific trout Fisheries in Colorado, it was found just Upstream of Yampa River State Park. East side of the park the runs from Hayden to Craig is known by Anglers as a treasure of trout. so if you found that you have met your quarter of the truck that is common looks of the western end of the River from Craig to Maybelle. This is where the warm water fish that include smallmouth bass northern pike and catfish can all be caught. If you want to fish for catfish you should trade your fly rod for a bottom troller.

Steamboat Lake State Park:  

Steamboat Lake State Park:   
Steamboat Lake State Park: 

The Crystalline Steamboat Lake is defined by Hahn’s Peak that towers over the Northeastern Shore.

But even this mess of mountain will be forgotten when you’re landing one of this lakes many hard fighting rainbow trout.

A drift boat or float tube is prime for accessing the deeper sections of the 150,000-acre body of water.

For those without some kind of a flotation device, the fishing along the miles of the shoreline is a popular and effective way to catch fish.

Grand Mesa Lakes:   

Grand Mesa Lake Colorado
Grand Mesa Lake Colorado Image by dkingdes from Pixabay

Grand Mesa Lakes has more than a hundred lakes and reservoirs that have clear Alpine Water.

These areas of water have a large variety of trout, it is ideal if you want to try catching a variety of species.

Boating is not allowed on all lakes but it is allowed on some. So make sure you read the signs that are posted before you launch or put them in.

There are dozens of streams that are fish laden and bisect the area this is a good way to enjoy this piece of Solitude. this is especially true when you’re trying to catch your next big fish.

Gunnison River:  

The Gunnison River will eventually run into the Blue Mesa Reservoir and it has lots of trophy trout. You can have some of the best luck if you try fishing nymphs and streamers.

Try to drop a cast behind a boulder or to some eddies for a good chance to land the large trout.

Because of the consistently large size of the fish, this River has a gold medal status. So you will want to make sure that you carry your larger net.

Over the years, the trout have been exceptionally large within this stretch of the river between the Crystal Creek and it’s’ joining the North Fork.

North Fork of The Gunnison River
North Fork of The Gunnison River

You will have to hike quite a ways as there aren’t any roads into this section.

Before it reaches the dam the Gunnison River will run through the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area.

So even if you don’t catch any fish today the beautiful scenery will make the trip well worth it.

The Taylor River:

The Taylor River flows through Taylor Park, and it forms Taylor Park Reservoir, just above Almont, Colo. An excellent fishery exists below the dam.

Be aware that the fish here are finicky and they do spook easily so bring your “A-Game”.

The trophy fish can often be found up high, this is a great river to explore downstream. You should pay special attention and make sure that you respect everyone’s private property.

There is public access available so you can get on the river pretty easily.

White River:

White River
White River

The White River is a tributary of the Green River. It is approximately 195 miles long and flows through Colorado and into Utah.

The river flows out of Trapper’s Lake then cuts through Meeker, Colo., just a little north of I-70.

Downstream from Meeker, it is joined by Piceance Creek and Yellow Creek. The White River is usually navigable by small boats throughout most of its length.

In low water years, the water may become too low for navigation for a period of several months. Trespassing can be dangerous

Animas River:  

Animas_River_just_north_of_downtown_Durango,_CO.
Animas_River_just_north_of_downtown_Durango,_CO.

The Animas River is a section of river that flows all the way from Durango to the border of New Mexico.

It is classified as a gold medal river because it easily supports large populations of fish. These fish are rainbow and brown trout that usually are from 14 to 18 in Long.

There are log jams and boulders and eddies that are all prime spots to try to catch the fish with nymphs or streamers.

There is one thing to keep in mind before you head to this river. The Animas River runs through the Southern Ute Indian Reservation in the south.

You need to have a special permit because they are required to fish this section of water. So contact the reservation for more information on their requirements.

Contact Southern Ute Tribe Division of Wildlife Resource Management.

Upper Arkansas River:   

Arkansas River Mountaint Sheep Canyon
Arkansas River Mountaint Sheep Canyon

The upper Arkansas River is a Gold Medal River. It passes over a hundred miles from where it joins with Lake Fork of the Arkansas River this is near Leadville and close to Canon City.

The river then drops almost 5,000 feet and passes from some subalpine meadows and go through Boulder Canyon and some irrigated hay fields.

This is before it enters the Bighorn Sheep Canyon that is below Salida. There the river then cuts across the high desert country that is home to its’ namesake sheep.

This is well known for its’ large population of brown trout and introduced rainbows that are found there. Having a warm and dry climate for most of the year and it has nearly 40 miles of public fishing areas.

The bighorn sheep Canyon is the Arkansas prime fishing destination. These flows are very supportive of wade fishing during most of the year.

The float fishing has become an increasingly popular way to work the shoreline pockets that are favored by brown trout.

Blue Mesa Reservoir:

Blue Mesa Reservoir
Blue Mesa Reservoir

The Blue Mesa Reservoir was made when they dammed up the Gunnison River in 1965. That was when they created Colorado’s largest body of water.

It became a fly fisher playground with more than 96 miles of shoreline for you to cast to. So trying to find a shady spot to cast your fly is pretty easy.

You can also explore all of the acres of the pristine Reservoir by your boat or float tube. These deeper water areas are usually the best for landing your lake trout and brown trout.

The brook trout tend to stay away from the deeper water. But are often found when feeding in the mouths of rivers and streams that flow into the reservoir. The rainbow trout are abundant in these waters and can be found in the reservoir and all of the rivers.

Colorado has some great places to fly fish so be sure to come and fish some of these great places.


Dean Jensen

I started fly fishing in 1972 and I have learned quite a bit about this wonderful sport called fly fishing and I want to share some of the things that I have learned.

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