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The Best Fly-Fishing Spots in Western Colorado

Exploring the Pristine Waters of Western Colorado

When it comes to fly-fishing, Colorado is a paradise for anglers. The lakes, rivers, and reservoirs in western Colorado offer an abundance of quick-darting and hard-fighting trout, making it a dream destination for fly-fishing enthusiasts. In this article, we will explore some of the best fly-fishing spots in this region, where you are sure to fill your creel.

1. Upper Arkansas River (Gold Medal)
Stretching over 102 miles, the Upper Arkansas River takes you from sub-alpine meadows to bouldered canyons and irrigated hayfields. Wade fishing is popular here, and the prime fly-fishing destination is the Bighorn Sheep Canyon. With its warm and dry climate, this area is home to brown and rainbow trout. To access this spot, drive east on U.S. 50 from Salida.

2. Blue Mesa Reservoir
Created by damming the Gunnison River, the Blue Mesa Reservoir is Colorado’s largest body of water. With over 96 miles of shoreline, finding a shady spot to cast a line is easy. Lake trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, and brook trout can be found in these deep waters. Head west on Highway 50 from Gunnison to reach this reservoir.

3. Animas River (Gold Medal)
The section of the Animas River flowing from Durango to the New Mexico border is classified as Gold Medal water. This area is known for its bends, log jams, boulders, and eddies, which provide prime spots for fishing. Rainbow and brown trout are the main attractions here. To access this river, travel south on Highway 550 from Durango.

4. Grand Mesa Lakes
Grand Mesa is home to over 100 natural lakes and reservoirs, offering a wide variety of trout species. While boating is allowed on some lakes, be sure to check signs before putting in. The area is also dotted with fish-laden streams, providing anglers with solitude. The lakes are teeming with rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, brook trout, and brown trout. Head north on Highway 65 from Delta to reach this fishing spot.

5. Gunnison River (Gold Medal)
The Gunnison River within the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area is a haven for trophy-worthy trout. Nymph fishing is particularly successful here. The river in this area has consistently large fish, earning it Gold Medal status. Access to the river is via four wilderness trails or South River Road. To reach this spot, take Highway 92 east from Delta and turn south on Pleasure Park Road.

6. Steamboat Lake State Park (Gold Medal)
Steamboat Lake is a picturesque spot with the needle-like Hahn’s Peak towering over its northeastern shore. Drift boats are perfect for reaching the deeper sections of the lake, while fishing along the miles of accessible shoreline is popular. Rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, brook trout, and brown trout are abundant here. To access the park, travel west on Highway 40 from Steamboat Springs.

7. Trappers Lake
Located just off the Flat Tops Trail Scenic and Historic Byway, Trappers Lake is an easily accessible wilderness with a large population of native cutthroat trout. Non-motorized floats are the best way to fish on this serene lake. To reach Trappers Lake, take Highway 132 (also known as the Flat Tops Trail Scenic and Historic Byway) east from Meeker.

8. Wolford Mountain Reservoir
Wolford Mountain Reservoir offers serene waters amid the beautiful Colorado plateau. Rainbow trout can often be found here, providing anglers with exciting fishing experiences. The reservoir also features fully-equipped campsites for a comfortable stay. From Kremmling, take Highway 40 north to reach this reservoir.

9. Yampa River State Park
Yampa River State Park is home to one of the most prolific trout fisheries in Colorado. The eastern portion of the park, from Hayden to Craig, is known for its abundance of trout. If you’re interested in catching warm-water fish like small-mouth bass, northern pike, and catfish, head to the western end of the river from Craig to Maybell. To access the park, take Highway 40 east from Craig.

10. Fryingpan (Gold Medal), Roaring Fork (Gold Medal), Crystal Rivers
The Roaring Fork Valley offers over 40 miles of catch-and-release Gold Medal waters on the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork Rivers. The Crystal River is often overlooked but provides excellent fishing opportunities. In this area, you can find rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and brown trout. From Glenwood Springs, take Highway 82 south to access any accessible and public section of the river between Basalt and Aspen.

In conclusion, western Colorado is a fly-fishing paradise with its abundance of lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, there are plenty of opportunities to catch various species of trout. So grab your fishing gear, get a Colorado fishing license, and head out to explore these breathtaking fishing spots.

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