The 12 Best, Trout Fishing Lakes & Rivers In Colorado

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Colorado is popularly known in the fishing world as being one of the best trout fishing places in the world. The state has picturesque mountains with freshwater streams flowing beneath them, stunning lakes and rivers that are polluted with rainbow, brown and cutthroat trout. Some of the waters may be private land and will require you granted access. Also, some waters will be open to all types of fishing whereas others may be limited to just fly fishing or fly fishing along with artificial lures. Make sure you check the waters fishing rules before heading out for the day. 

After visiting many of the lakes and rivers myself, I thought i’d write this article to provide other anglers with the best 12 trout fishing lakes in Colorado. Hopefully you can visit at least one if not all of them and catch those record breaking fish!



South Platte River

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The South Platte River starts from South Park and ends up flowing into downtown Denver. There are some fabulous parts of the river with beautiful scenery. In regards to fishing for trout, you can just about cast your line anywhere along the river and you'll be bound to have a successful day fishing. 
You’ll want to try and get on the river early, as this is one of the most popular in Colorado. The stretch of 4mile water between Spinney Reservoir and Elevenmile Reservoir is the home of the Dream Stream, commonly known as the place to fish for trout! 



North Platte River

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Swiftly flowing through the North Park and close to the town of Walden, the North Platte River provides anglers with some excellent fishing. Brown trout are common and a prime target for those fishing the river, however rainbow and cutthroat trout are also lingering. One of the best fishing spots on this stretch of river is at Northgate Canyon (gold medal reach), where the river descends towards Wyoming.  Some of the smaller tributary streams should not be overlooked either as these have been known to be an excellent fishery. 
It is important to note, if you’re looking to fish the Northgate Canyon, you’ll need some sort of raft or kayak to access the ‘Gold Medal Trout Water’ area. 



Animas River

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Back in 2015, this river almost ‘ended’ after there was a mining spill. Thankfully, 5 years on the river still exists and the fishing is as successful as ever. Most anglers in the area have reported that the section of river from the Lightner Creek to Rivera Crossing Bridge, just down from downtown Durango, is home to some of the best trout fishing in the whole of Colorado, if not, the USA. Previous records suggest that in the 1950’s a 20lb+ brown trout was caught from this stretch of water, and until this day, the trout continue to grow to 18lb+. 



Gore Creek

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This stream isn’t the largest or widest but is known to be one of the most iconic and best fishing spots in the whole of Colorado. Surrounded by mountains, Gore Creek starts high up in the mountains at Gore Lake and runs all the way to Eagle River (near Vail). Gore Creek is full of large brook, cutthroat, rainbow and brown trout, making it the perfect day out to catch all four species. Anglers head to the two main fishing spots; the upper gore creek and the lower gore cree. Make sure you head out early as it can get a little busy. 



Fryingpan River

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Not only has this been recognised as one of the best trout, fly and lure fishing places in the US, it is now recognised worldwide with many anglers putting this place on their fishing ‘bucket list’. Local anglers regularly report rainbow trout catches of 10lb+. The best fishing spots are located between the Ruedi Reservoir and the where the river joins with the Roaring fork, this spot is known as the Gold Medal Water section. The clear, clean and cool waters with a stunning mountain outset are just a small list of things that entice anglers from all round Colorado, the size and species range of trout also helps. 



The Roaring Fork River

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Not as well known as the nearby Fryingpan River but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great place for trout fishing, in fact it’s up there as being one of the best trout fisheries in the US. In the town of Basalt, the roaring fork river begins and flows all the way to the Roaring Fork’s confluence with the Colorado River (Glenwood Springs). This stretch of water is given the label of Gold Medal Fishing - meaning you have approximately 30+miles of clear water that provides a world-class trout fishing experience. 
We recommend wearing waders when fishing the roaring fork, however a small flotation/boat would be more beneficial. Fishing from a small boat will allow you to get to small, tight areas which are impossible when wade fishing.



North Delaney Lake

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One of three high mountain lakes in the Delaney Buttes, Near Walden. The North Delaney is known for its healthy population of brown trout. Surprisingly, the local wildlife authorities use these three lakes as an brown trout ‘egg collection’ to boost the other state’s trout population in the other rivers, streams and lakes.
Out of the three lakes, it’s the North Delaney that is labelled with the Gold Medal water fishery, meaning it is producing world-class trout fishing experiences. This is one lake that is not to be missed, head out early and enjoy a fishing experience you’ll never forget!



Rio Grande

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Starting near the San Juan Mountain and flowing south into the southwest of Colorado, and then into the Gulf of Mexico, the Rio Grande is a popular spot for Anglers. The stretch of water between the Rio Grande National Forest and the town of South Fork has Gold Medal fishing status, meaning most anglers will likely cast their rods here as the fish are big in size and plentiful in numbers. However, this does not mean that other parts of the river should be forgotten, especially the headwaters in the National Forest, Here you’ll find Rio Grande cutthroat. 



Blue River

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This is a fantastic location for any anglers looking for somewhere to fish on the western side of the divide (from Denver). Although the Blue river lost its Gold Medal status in 2016, it was widely respected as being one of the best trout fishing rivers in Colorado. This became ‘more’ true when the silverthorne section of the blue river had its Gold Medal status redesignated in 2017. When they lost the status in 2016, it put pressure on the local management team to boost the blue’s trout populations. Just below Lake Dillon, the river blue flows through the city of  Silverthorne. This city has a big population and attracts many tourists, making this part of the river a popular part for all anglers. This shouldn't put you off though, there is plenty of space to fish and has a lot of fish to go around. 



Arkansas River

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One of the biggest and longest rivers in the state, the Arkansas river is approximately 1,500 miles long. Starting near Leadville, about a third of the river flows through Colorado with 102 miles (Leadville to just above Royal George) of it having Gold Medal water status. The river flows through meadows, canyons, hayfields and the desert. The Arkansas can be a highly popular river for kayakers and water rafters during the summer months, so don’t be surprised if they’re on the water whilst you’re trying to fish. 



Spinney Mountain Reservoir

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A very popular place to fish due to the beautiful scenery however the fishing shouldn't be undermined as it can be an excellent fishery. The Spinney mountain reservoir brings the crowds of anglers in due to the opportunity to fly fish, trolling and belly boating. The reservoir is constantly serving up decent sized brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout. The best time to fish the lake is during the summer months, especially June. 



Yampa River & Steamboat Lake

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The 134 mile stretch of Yampa river is the stand highlight of the Yampa River State Park. Across the stretch of river there are 13 access points, which are between Hayden and near the Utah border. The river offers overnight camping areas (six) and plenty of fishing opportunities on the beautiful, clear water. 



Well, as we get to the end of the article, I hope you have gained an understanding of these amazing lakes, rivers and streams in Colorado. Trout fishing in Colorado is on the up and some places can become busy very quickly. Make sure you try and give some of the places a go, and leave a comment once you have. It will be great to hear from other anglers and their experiences at these amazing spots. Have a great time fishing and make sure you catch those record breaking fish!

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