Fishing in Colorado

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Within the state of Colorado, anglers have access to some of the Rocky Mountain's best fly fishing waters. With high-mountain backcountry streams and lakes, bountiful tailwater fisheries, and close-to-home urban fishing, Colorado provides endless options for the adventurous angler. With epic hatches that help resident rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout grow large and healthy, plus the state's ample access to public water, Colorado is a true haven for local anglers and a worthy destination for those in search of an exciting and scenic place to visit, explore, and fish.

Flowing from its headwaters in the Rockies, through downtown Denver and up through the northeast corner of the state, the South Platte River is one of Colorado's most accessible and popular fly fishing rivers. Just an hour outside of Denver, the South Platte leaves Cheesman Reservoir, runs through a gorgeous river canyon, and holds some very large rainbows with solid numbers of brown trout as well. Within city limits, the South Platte draws anglers in search of the ever-challenging carp, and a host of other warmwater species. Heading west out of Denver into the Rockies takes you into the heart of the Colorado River Basin, where in addition to the famous Colorado river itself, is home to many of the state's best trout streams including the Roaring Fork, the Frying Pan, and the Blue River & each supporting healthy populations of rainbow and brown trout. In the southern part of the state, the Rio Grande begins in the San Juan Mountains and along with some of its major tributaries such as the Conejos River, is home to some of the state's best dry fly fishing. The Southwest corner of the state holds such fishing gems as the Animas River, a free-flowing river awarded Gold Medal status from the state for it's high numbers of quality rainbow and brown trout.

The rivers within the Rocky Mountains have abundant aquatic insect life, and have notable hatches of caddis, mayflies, midges, and stoneflies throughout the year. The one thing that slows fishing down in Colorado is the peak runoff in spring as the snow melts in the mountains causing the rivers to rise. While there are streams in Colorado that are fishable throughout the winter, much of the prime fishing happens from May through November.


CO Department of Fish & Wildlife
1313 Sherman Street, 6th Floor
Denver, CO 80203
P: 303-297-1192

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Colorado Fishing Articles

6 Winter Flies to Never Leave Home Without

Posted on February 12, 2017

It’s winter time and if you’re like me then you’re probably daydreaming of warmer weather and being on the river. You’re also probably behind the vice tying up dozens of flies for the months ahead....

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Choosing the Proper Fly Rod

Posted on January 21, 2016

Proper fly fishing gear is essential. Along with the reel, flies and line, the most important gear is the fly rod. Fly rods may vary in length from 6 - 12 feet and come in different weights, colors,...

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Guides based in Colorado

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Trout Unlimited Colorado
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Colorado Water Systems (255)

Water Access Locations in Colorado (96)