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The 12 Best Colorado Trout Fishing Destinations

ANIMAS

Check out this list of the 12 best Colorado trout fisheries.

The Animas River

Colorado has some of the best trout fishing destinations in the world. The state has scores of pristine mountain streams, lakes and rivers that are teeming with rainbows, browns and cutthroats. So, when you ask the question, “where’s the best places to fish for trout?” You’re likely to get a wide range of answers.

These 12 fisheries have all earned Gold Medal Trout Waters designations, the state’s top award for trout fisheries.

The state Deparmtment of Natural Resrouces issues the awards. Here’s the criteria, in their own words:

In order to receive a Gold Medal listing, a body of water must consistently support a minimum trout standing stock of 60 pounds per acre, as well as consistently support a minimum average of 12 quality trout – trout larger than 14 inches – per acre.

The streams, rivers and lakes on this list are some of the most beautiful places to fish, not only in Colorado, but in the world.

Click through the slideshow to view the 12 best Colorado trout fishing destinations.

Do you agree with the fisheries on this list? Which ones are your favorites? What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section below. 

 

The Animas River

In 1765, when Spanish explorer Juan Rivera saw this river, he named it “El Rio de las Animas Perdidas en Purgatorio,” Spanish for “The River of Lost Souls in Hell.” I’m not sure what he was smoking. The Animas river is a beautiful trout fishery surrounded by majestic mountains. The city of Durango has the best public access to the Animas River. Here, the river stretches 100 feet wide in some sections. Large boulders, deep pools and riffles create habitat for loads of trophy trout. 

Gore Creek

Image via blog.vailspa.com

Gore Creek is a small, tranquil mountain stream that offers great year-round trout fishing. Anglers often fish Gore Creek to complete the trout angler’s Grand Slam: brook, cutthroat, rainbow and browns. It’s a fairly small creek, but the trout are big. Gore Creek starts high in the mountains at Gore Lake and flows down to the confluence with the Eagle River near Vail. The creek has two main fisheries: the Upper Gore Creek north of Vail, and the Lower Gore Creek just south of Vail.

North Platte River

The Colorado section of the North Platte River is legendary for its fishing opportunities. The North Platte starts in the grassy meadowlands of North Park and flows northwest to Wyoming. North Gate Canyon near the town of Walden is the Gold Medal Trout Water area. This section can only be accessed with a raft or kayak and has some of the best wild trout fishing in the West.

The Frying Pan River

Image via ifishcolorado.com

The Frying Pan River is world renowned for its fly and lure trout fishing. Colorado carefully manages this river to produce large impressive wild trout. In some sections of the Frying Pan, anglers can easily catch 10-plus pound rainbows. The Gold Medal Water section is between Ruedi Reservoir and the confluence with the Roaring Fork. Clear waters, monster trout and stunning mountain vistas make this the most popular sections of the river.

Roaring Fork

The Roaring Fork River is not as well known as the nearby Frying Pan River, but it’s one of the best trout fisheries in the country. The upper section of is a winding high meadow stream, while the lower part is a raging free stone river. Only the strongest trout can survive the strong currents. As such, this river offers up some beastly fish. Anglers from all over the world come to the Roaring Fork river to catch trophy trout.

The South Platte River

The South Platte River begins in South Park and flows into downtown Denver. The best section of the river is known as the Dream Stream. It winds through the mountain meadows below the Spinney Mountain Area and joins with the Eleven Mile Reservoir. During the spring migration, the Dream Stream has loads of trophy spawners. But be warned, it’s also one of the most popular trout fishing destinations, so you might have to fight the crowds.

North Delaney Lake

Image via thefrogwater.com

North Delaney Lake is one of three high mountain lakes in the Delaney Buttes near Walden, Colorado. The lakes are well known for their healthy brown trout populations, so much so, the state Division of Wildlife collects their eggs to boost the state’s trout stocks. North Delaney Lake boasts the Gold Medal Water designation, and is easily the best fishery of three.

The Gunnison River

The Gunnison River has some of the best brown and rainbow trout fishing opportunities in Colorado. The Gold Medal Trout Water section of the river runs through the Black Canyon in Gunnison National Park. The roads leading into the canyon are steep and windy, but the fishing is worth it. Alternatively, you can get a backcountry permit and hike into the river along one of the inner canyon routes.

Rio Grande

Image via blog.yourwatercolorado.org

The Rio Grande flows south from the San Juan Mountain in southwest Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico. The Gold Medal Water section of this mighty river lies in San Juans between the towns of South Fork and Del Norte. Here, anglers have ample opportunities to catch trophy browns and rainbows. The best times to fish are from June through July, when the stone fly and mayfly hatches are in full swing.

Spinney Mountain Reservoir

Image via www.fly-fishing-discounters.com

Spinney Mountain Reservoir is one of the few Colorado reservoirs to earn a Gold Medal Water designation. This scenic lake has great shoreline, fly fishing, belly boating and trolling opportunities. Spinney Mountain consistently offers up trophy rainbows, cutthroat and browns. The reservoir is wildly popular in the summertime, with the best fishing is in June.

South Platte River

Image via coloradoflyfisher.blogspot.com

The South Platte River begins in South Park and flows into downtown Denver. The best section of the river is known as the Dream Stream. It winds through the mountain meadows below the Spinney Mountain Area and joins with the Eleven Mile Reservoir. During the spring migration, the Dream Stream has loads of trophy spawners. But be warned, it’s also one of the most popular trout fishing destinations, so you might have to fight the crowds.

Blue River

Image via rmgsc.cr.usgs.gov

The Blue River starts in Hoosier Pass and flows North through Breckenridge to the Colorado River. This beautiful river boasts some excellent trout fishing spots. The Gold Water section of the river is called the Tail Water, located below Lake Dillon. This stretch is where fly anglers frequently catch monster-sized trout on imitation flies.

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The 12 Best Colorado Trout Fishing Destinations