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Exploring Colorado’s Fly Fishing Rivers: A Trout Enthusiast’s Dream


Colorado, with its majestic Rocky Mountains and abundant water resources, offers some of the best fly fishing destinations in the country. From the legendary Colorado River to the remote tributaries of the Rio Grande, anglers can find beautiful scenery and plentiful fish. In this article, we will explore some of the best fly fishing rivers in Colorado and provide tips for successful fishing experiences.

Northeastern Colorado

Upper Colorado River

The Upper Colorado River, starting in Rocky Mountain National Park and extending to the Fraser River, is a legendary river known for its ample and large fish population. With its breathtaking canyon walls and abundant native fish, such as trout, it is a must-visit destination for fly fishing enthusiasts. Whether you prefer wading or floating, the Colorado River offers outstanding fishing opportunities.

Blue River

Located downstream of Dillon Reservoir, the Blue River is another gem for fly fishing enthusiasts. Designated as gold water, this tributary of the Colorado River offers accessibility and high productivity. Anglers can expect to catch large rainbow trout and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Mysis shrimp, a unique feature of this river, provides an excellent opportunity to catch rainbow trout feeding on them.

South Platte River

The South Platte River is densely populated with fish, estimated at 3,000 fish per mile of river. With ample sight fishing opportunities, this river is a favorite among anglers. While the upper stretch in Cheeseman Canyon is heavily fished, other sections of the river offer less pressure and still contain plenty of fish. To avoid crowds, consider fishing during winter when ice build-up may deter other anglers.

North Platte River

Renowned for its wild trout population, the North Platte River offers some of the best wading fishing in the country. Anglers can access a significant portion of the river at Northgate Canyon, where various creeks flow into the North Platte. We also recommend exploring the productive waters on the Wyoming side of the border.

Southeastern Colorado

Arkansas River

Flowing over 150 miles from Leadville to the plains of Colorado, the Arkansas River is loaded with fish. While the upper stretches offer fantastic wading opportunities, floating down the river is a popular option for a more productive day. The spring season is particularly productive due to the unique environment and high elevation snowpack.

Northwestern Colorado

Yampa River

The Yampa River is not only breathtakingly gorgeous but also hosts an incredible fishery. Whether you fish near the town of Yampa, White River National Forest, or Stagecoach State Park, you can expect a fruitful experience year-round. Tricos and midges work best in the early season, while golden stonefly patterns prove effective throughout.

Fryingpan River

Designated as gold medal water year-round, the Fryingpan River in White River National Forest offers opportunities for catching wild trout amidst beautiful scenery. The 9-mile stretch from Ruedi Reservoir to Roaring Fork in Basalt is particularly productive, especially during the winter midge hatches.

Roaring Fork River

Originating southeast of Aspen, the Roaring Fork River features two sections designated as gold medal waters. The stretch between Aspen and Basalt provides great access along the Rio Grande Trail, while the section near Carbondale is deeper and larger, making float fishing the most productive method.

Southwestern Colorado

Gunnison River

Considered one of the top fishing destinations in the United States, the Gunnison River offers year-round opportunities to catch large brown trout, rainbow trout, and even kokanee salmon. The breathtaking scenery, extensive river length, and gold medal water sections make it a must-visit for any serious fly angler.

Animas River

Stretching 126 miles, the Animas River is another gold medal fishing destination in southwestern Colorado. While the areas surrounding Durango offer plenty of wading spots and easy access, navigating the river without a boat can be challenging elsewhere. The midges dominate during winter months, while caddis flies are successful during summer.

Rio Grande River

The Rio Grande River in southwestern Colorado offers ample wading opportunities and is home to a large population of fish, including trophy-sized catches. While the southern sections are more heavily fished due to easy access, the river becomes larger further south, making float fishing the preferred method. Taking advantage of caddis fly hatches can lead to unforgettable experiences.


Colorado’s fly fishing rivers offer a paradise for anglers, with breathtaking scenery and abundant fish populations. From the legendary Colorado River to the remote beauty of the Rio Grande, each river provides unique fishing opportunities. Whether you prefer wading or floating, there is a river in Colorado waiting to be explored. So grab your gear and embark on a fly fishing adventure of a lifetime!

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