Fishing in Colorado

Colorado is extremely popular as a fishing destination in the United States.  The state is literally packed with lakes and rivers open for public fishing.  Remember, you must obtain a license to fish in Colorado. Annual fishing licenses are valid from March 1 through March 31 Colorado Parks & Wildlife offers a range of options for anglers from the annual fishing license to the one-day fishing license. ​Youth under the age of 16 fish for free.​ GRAB YOUR FISHING LICENSE HERE​​​​​ ​​​​ 
March, April, and May are extremely popular months in  Colorado for fly fishing.  Fly fishermen look forward to spring fly fishing.  You can fish in Colorado without a license only on the first full weekend of June, each year.



Also, make sure to check out the Colorado Fishing Atlas which can help you navigate your route!

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There are more than 4,000 lakes and reservoirs in Colorado.  Colorado is one of the top fishing destinations in the western world. Colorado’s many rivers, lakes, and mountain streams are overflowing with cutthroats, rainbows, and browns. The state is loaded with lakes and rivers open for public fishing. Colorado has approximately 1,533 publicly owned lakes and 158 Rivers.  I can promise, you will not run out of places to explore in this state when it comes to fishing!



Still not sure that there is not enough terrain here for you to explore?  Did you know that Colorado has  42 Colorado state parks, 13 national forests, 13 national parks and monuments, and 58 14ers!  AND, Fishing is available at 37 of the state parks across Colorado. 

  1. Gunnison County
  2. Meeker
  3. Carbondale
  4. Glenwood Springs
  5. Lake City
  6. Southwest Colorado
  7. Southeast Colorado


🎣Let’s Break this down a bit more for you and give you just a bit more information on each of the fishing locations above🎣



Gunnison County
  • 4 hours from Denver

Hundreds of miles of waterways and thousands and thousands of new fish are released every year.   Gunnison County is a major hub for anglers. There is easy access to anglers in top fishing locations including Taylor Reservoir, Blue Mesa Lake, and the Gunnison, East, and Taylor rivers.


  • 3 hours 53 mins from Denver

Meeker public land offers many mountain streams.  Here some of the state’s largest trout thrive. The best-known lake is Trappers Lake.  People also enjoy many other lakes here in the region, for example, Big Fish,  Skinny Fish, Mirror McGinnis, Little Trappers, and Anderson.  They are all well-stocked areas and attract anglers from all over.   Ice fishing has also become popular in this area.  The White River National Forest offers several locations.   


  • 3 hours and 15 minutes from Denver

A great location for fishing especially in the fall.  Carbondale offers the Crystal River, The Dinkel Lake,  Frying Pan River and  Roaring Fork River. There are 3 access bridges to the Roaring Fork River. So you will see many wading and trout fishing. 


Glenwood Springs
  •  3 hours 15 minutes from Denver

Nationally recognized for its fly-fishing, Glenwood Springs offers year-round fishing on its two rivers, the Roaring Fork and the Colorado.  Yes, the rivers are a popular locations for anglers, Reudi Reservoir, Harvey Gap, Rifle Gap, and many lakes are also popular locations.


Lake City
  • 4 Hours 40 Minutes from Denver

Year-round fishing is what Lake City is perfect for!   During the spring, fly-fishers have luck with trout . As Lake San Cristobal is popular in spring right as the waters start to thaw out.  Lake San Cristobal is also very popular for ice fishing in the winter.  Once summer arrives the prime season for the lakes and streams and lakes in the area.  Deer Lake and Big Blue Creek are perfect for fishing with children as the fish tend to be a bit smaller.    Cebolla Creek and Henson Creek in the fall, are great spots for those looking for larger fish and enjoy also the gorgeous scenery changes with the fall foliage. Some popular spots include:  Continental Reservoir, Rio Grande Reservoir, Williams Creek Reservoir, Lake Fork of the Gunnison River, Henon Creek and so many more!


Southwest Colorado
  • 2 – 4  hours from Denver

The Southwest Region of Colorado is made up of Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma and San Juan. Valle city Lake and The San Juan and Animas Rivers are included on Colorado’s list of Gold Medal Waters.  Here is where anglers flock looking for kokanee salmon, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, German brown trout, northern pike and of course walleye. You can find locations here to fish for all different levels of anglers.  A few popular spots in the area are: Lake Nighthorse, Electra and Haviland Lakes, Vallecito Reservoir, Los Pino River, Navajo Reservoir, Lemon Reservoir, the Piedra River and so many more.



Southeast Colorado
  • 2-4 hours from Denver

The southeastern region of Colorado includes Lathrop, Lake Pueblo, Trinidad, and John Martin state parks.   There are over 5,000 acres of fantastic fishing here.   Anglers head here hoping to make a big catch.  Fishing here is for bass, crappie, pike walleye, bluegill,  and more. There is a variety of warm and cold water species here.  There are so many wonderful places to explore in this area.  A few of those are: Crawford Reservoir, Animas River,, Blue Mesa Reservoir, Vallecito Reservoir, San Juan River, Sanchez Reservoir, Taylor River and Reservoir, Road Canyon Reservoir, Rio Grande River, Rio Grande River, Echo Canyon Reservoir, and so many more!



Additional Fishing locations outside of the Parks

  1. Gore Creek
  2. Rio Grande River
  3. North Platte River
  4. Spinney Mountain Reservoir
  5. North Delaney Butte Lake
  6. Fryingpan River
  7. Fryingpan River
  8. Animas River
  9. Gunnison River
  10. South Platte River


Additional Lodging Options

Thinking of moving to Colorado? Check out these towns:

Lodging and Places to Stay

Obviously, Colorado is a pretty big state.  In fact, is it about  104,094 sq mi, and as mentioned earlier there are hiking trails in just about every corner of the state.  SO, below are just a few suggestions of places you may want to consider staying if coming out to explore and hit some of the amazing hiking trails!


Let’s start off with where to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park.  Unfortunately, there is no lodging in the park, but don’t worry. There are plenty of spots located nearby!

There are plenty of other areas to stay in, in fact, may I suggest you check out one of these mountain towns to stay in?

Buena Vista –  Buena Vista is beautiful. Located in central Colorado between the mountain towns of Salida and Leadville. There are simple strolls that are scenic here along the river, AND there are insane 14,000-foot summits.  This part of the state offers you, “choose your own adventure”.


Aspen – Aspen is one mountain town you do NOT want to miss! If you simply mention Aspen to anyone, they automatically think of snow-covered slopes and some of the best skiing in the entire country.  While that is 100% true, there is a lot more here in Aspen.  Hiking for example!  Check out these 5 trails right in Aspen, but remember there are hundreds and hundreds of miles of trails just outside that area too!

  1. Rio Grande Trail
  2. Hunter Creek
  3. Smuggler Trail
  4. Sunnyside Trail
  5. Ute Trail
  6. Red Butte Trail