Fishing in Colorado

Last updated on July 3rd, 2021 at 11:07 am. Originally published on July 1st, 2021

Colorado is a great state to explore because of its scenic beauty. While some locations may not be accessible in winter, there are many great spots to explore throughout the year in this state. A great way to see some of the best scenery in Colorado, along with incredible wildlife, is to go fishing. The state boasts more than 6,000 miles of fishable rivers and streams and over 2,000 lakes and reservoirs. Be sure to check regulations for fishing Colorado, and obtain your license before heading to these good fishing spots in Colorado.

A person in a yellow jacket standing in a lake tosses a fly fishing line. The lake is surrounded by green trees, and clouds surround the distant mountains.

Fishing Camping in Colorado

Blue Mesa Reservoir

Blue Mesa Reservoir, near Gunnison, is the largest body of water in Colorado. Over 3 million kokanee salmon are stocked annually at this lake, and anglers have caught salmon weighing over 7 pounds. The prime time for fishing kokanee salmon is from mid-June to mid-July. The state actively manages the balance between kokanee salmon and lake trout. Therefore, it is not unusual to catch lake trout over 24 inches. This body of water is also a great place to go ice fishing for perch.

Roaring Fork River

The best fishing on the Roaring Fork River is from the confluence with the Crystal River near Aspen downstream to where it meets with the Colorado River near Glenwood Springs. This river can produce 60 pounds of trout per acre and at least 12 14-inch or larger trout per acre. Therefore, this 70-mile-long river has received Gold Medal recognition from the state. The river from Hallum Lake near Aspen to the Upper Woody Creek Bridge near Basalt has also been named Wild Trout Waters as the trout have not been raised in a hatchery. Therefore, anglers find them more challenging to catch.

Vallecito Lake

Vallecito Lake is 10 miles from Durango. Water from the Los Pinos and Florida Rivers within the Weminuche Wilderness Area is impounded to make this lake, which offers excellent fishing in Colorado for large brown trout throughout the year and pike from mid-May through mid-June. Rainbow trout fishing can also be superb in this lake. It is a great place to go backcountry fishing in the San Juan Mountains, but be sure to fish only from public land.

San Juan River

There are stretches of the San Juan River that hold over 10,000 fish per mile. This river flows through Pagosa Springs, and an agreement between landowners and the city means that you can fish anywhere on this river within the city limits. Part of the San Juan River, which is an excellent place for fly-fishing, runs through the Ute Indian Reservation, and that section requires a special license. Many anglers find that the best fishing for rainbow and brown trout here happens when floating the section near the New Mexico state line. Fish numbers are carefully monitored, with the state stocking this river every three to five years.

Lake Pueblo

If you love to catch big walleye and wonder where to fish in Colorado for the species, head to Lake Pueblo near Pueblo in March and April. While you can still get bites during the summer, the fishing typically slows during the warmer months. This lake in Lake Pueblo State Park has special walleye regulations to help ensure that big fish are easy to catch. If you are planning a fall walleye fishing trip, then try live bait rigs or trolling crankbaits. This lake is also a prime spot for bass, bluegill, and catfish fishing.

Fryingpan River

The Fryingpan River is a Gold Medal River near Basalt that originates in the Hunter Fryingpan Wilderness. This river contains two different parts that are separated by the Ruedi Reservoir. Catch the biggest trout with Mysis shrimp flies by fishing below the dam, but be forewarned that this area can get very crowded. While most anglers head to this location to fish for brown trout, cutthroat, rainbow, and brook trout are also caught in this river. Note that, according to Colorado fishing regulations, almost all species of fish, except for brown trout, caught below the dam must be released.

John Martin Reservoir

One of the best reasons for fishing Colorado at John Martin Reservoir near Hasty is the vast variety of fish caught throughout the year. Start the year off by fishing for crappie and saugeye. The most popular time to go fishing at this reservoir is early to mid-summer when the bass and vipers are biting. Even on the hottest days of the summer, night fishing for catfish can be great. Finally, when the days begin to cool, the crappie and vipers start biting again.

Fishing Spots in Colorado

Except for a small corner of northeastern Colorado, the fishing is excellent clear across the state. The northwest area is ideal for trout fishing while the southeast is a great place to go crappie and catfish fishing. The high mountain lakes of the southwest portion of the state are perfect for cutthroat trout. The front range area around Rocky Mountain National Park is a great spot to catch smallmouth bass.

Camping and Fishing in Colorado

Before you rush out the door to try these new locations for fishing and camping in Colorado, you need to spend just a few minutes preparing. Think about the weather as a few of these fishing locations are in high mountain areas that may be difficult to reach in the winter.

In some locations, you need to walk a little way to the good fishing spots. Ensure that you have proper shoes for walking across slippery and muddy areas, especially if you are going fishing in the spring when trails can be muddy.

There are many great answers to the question of where to fish in Colorado. In fact, it would be impossible to fish at every great fishing location in the state. You may discover that you have a new favorite lake or river after a visit to Colorado. Even if the fish seem to be ignoring your lure, you will have a great time exploring these locations.

Before you go, read this fishing blog post. It is filled with helpful tips to make your fishing adventure a successful one.

With an RV rental, your fishing trip will be a little more comfortable! After you’ve spent a long day fishing, grill up your catch right at your campsite. Then retire inside to enjoy all the comforts of home on board your RV. Plan your perfect fishing getaway with an RV rental from RVshare.

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