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Exploring Colorado’s Top Fly Fishing Rivers


Colorado’s rivers, fed by the snow of the continental divide, are renowned for their exceptional fly fishing opportunities. With a variety of terrains and water conditions, each river offers a unique experience for passionate anglers. In this article, we will explore the top 10 fly fishing rivers in Colorado, guaranteed to provide you with some of the best fly fishing of your life.

The South Platte River

The South Platte River, with its gold medal status, is a popular choice for both locals and visitors. Located close to Denver, this river offers convenient access and opportunities to catch rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout. The dream stream section of the South Platte, along with the tailwater fishery downstream of Spinney Reservoir, provide excellent fishing experiences.

The Gunnison River

Flowing through stunning landscapes, the Gunnison River offers breathtaking scenery and outstanding fishing opportunities. With gold medal sections and the presence of black canyon walls, this river is a true gem for experienced anglers. The difficult access keeps fishing pressure low, resulting in pristine waters and the chance to catch trophy browns and rainbow trout.

The Blue River

Despite losing its gold medal designation in 2016, the Blue River still offers exceptional fishing experiences. The silverthorne section of the river has been redesignated as a gold medal stream, attracting both trout and tourists. While the fishing pressure is high in this section, productive days with the potential to catch numerous fish are still possible.

The Animas River

Despite facing a mining waste spill in 2015, the Animas River has remained a hotspot for trout fishing. The lightner creek to rivera crossing bridge section, downstream of Durango, continues to produce world-class fishing opportunities. With an abundance of invertebrates, this free-flowing river enables the growth of large and impressive trout.

The Arkansas River

Stretching over 1,469 miles and dropping over 9,000 feet in elevation, the Arkansas River offers a unique fishing experience. With 102 miles of gold medal water, this river presents opportunities to catch trout in deep pockets and crystal-clear runs. However, its popularity among whitewater rafters and kayakers can make fishing challenging during high water seasons.

The Upper Colorado River

The Upper Colorado River, recently designated as a gold medal river, boasts some of the best trout fishing on the west slope of Colorado. Situated near Rocky Mountain National Park, this river provides not only exceptional fishing but also stunning natural surroundings. With easy access from Granby, it is an ideal destination for a combination of fishing and sightseeing or hiking.

The Fryingpan River

Known for its trophy brown and rainbow trout, the Fryingpan River is a haven for fly fishing enthusiasts. Below the Ruedi Reservoir dam, this river offers 14 miles of deep pools that provide cover for trout. Venturing above the reservoir reveals small pocket water fishing, enriching the angling experience.

The Roaring Fork River

The Roaring Fork River, combined with the fryingpan, offers over 30 miles of continuous world-class trout fishing. While wade fishing is possible, guided float trips provide access to challenging or hard-to-reach areas. The presence of big browns huddled against the bank and the opportunity to witness a late summer green drake hatch make this river an angler’s paradise.

The Rio Grande

Flowing through the Rio Grande National Forest, the Rio Grande River offers 17 miles of aggressive populations of quality brown and rainbow trout. With its gold medal status, this section attracts many anglers. However, the headwaters in the national forest should not be overlooked, as they provide opportunities to catch Rio Grande cutthroat trout, which are native to the area.

High Country Pocket Water

For those seeking adventure and solitude, Colorado’s high country pocket water is a must-visit. These mountain streams, teeming with small wild trout, offer a unique angling experience. While they may not be ideal for trophy fishing, they provide an opportunity to catch truly wild native fish and enjoy the stunning beauty of the Rockies.


Colorado’s fly fishing rivers offer a diverse range of experiences for anglers of all skill levels. Whether you prefer easily accessible rivers or remote high-elevation streams, Colorado has something to offer. From the popular South Platte River to the remote and scenic Upper Colorado, each river provides a chance to catch trophy trout and create lasting memories.

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