The 10 Best Fishing Spots in Colorado This Summer

Rainbow trout are among Colorado’s favorite game fish. As members of the salmon family, rainbow trout can grow quite long, with an average size of 20-30 inches. However, they can get even bigger. The largest rainbow trout caught in Colorado was 19 lb and 34 in long! Can you imagine what it’d feel like reeling in a fish that big? 

This article is for you if you want to catch trophy-sized fish and every size in between. Dive in to discover the 10 best fishing spots in Colorado this summer.

1. Colorado River

The Colorado River is great for drifting and fly fishing.

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The Colorado River is a beautiful fishing stretch. The headwaters are in Colorado and Wyoming. You can use almost any fly you like and still make regular catches. Dries, streamers, and nymphs, take your pick! Just get ready for a fight. Similar to salmon, the trout here are fighters. You’ll need a heavy rod and a strong leader and tippet to be successful.

Take your pick of drifting and fly-fishing too. However, floating will be the best strategy for reaching the most trout. There are only a few places where you can fish from the shoreline. If you’re fishing from the shore, stick to the rocks, seams, and eddies. Alternatively, you can also travel deep into the main river channel.

2. Crystal River

Crystal River Colorado
The Crystal River is sometimes called the magic Crystal River by locals.

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The Crystal River is sometimes called the magic Crystal River by locals. It’s a magical place for anglers, thanks to the gorgeous view and abundance of fish. The free-flowing stream runs for 35 mi along a scenic path. The headwaters of the Crystal River are just above the town of Marble. The best fishing spots are where the Crystal River ends and merges with Roaring Fork. 

At the end of the Crystal River, you’ll be able to catch plenty of rainbow and brown trout. There’s also a ton of white fish, which are fun to chase. There’s the perfect mix of flat sections in water, so you can find all sorts of fishing honey pools. If the Crystal River is too busy, or you’re looking for a smaller creek, make a side trip over to Avalanche creek. It’s a great wildlife protection area and a prime spot to fish for brook trout.

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3. Frying Pan

Frying Pan Lake
Frying Pan has gold medal waters.

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The Frying Pan, usually referred to as “Pan,” is one of Colorado’s most popular fishing destinations. Originating just east of Aspen, this spot sits in the Hunter Frying Pan Wilderness Area. The river travels about 14 miles before converging with Roaring Fork. The section from the dam to its confluence with Roaring Fork is gold medal waters. 

The Frying Pan had to meet certain standards to earn the gold medal waters title. The title means that the Colorado Wildlife Commission designates the area as having lots of large trout. These areas can produce 60 lb of trout per acre. They also produce at least 12 trout that are 14 in or larger per acre. There are only 322 miles of Colorado’s trout streams that carry the gold medal label. The Frying Pan is proud to be one of them.

4. Arkansas River

The Arkansas River is 102 miles long and earned its gold medal title back in 2014.

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The Arkansas River in Colorado is another gold medal stretch. The river is 102 miles long and earned its gold medal title back in 2014. You’ll be able to take advantage of multiple access points throughout the federal lands. Double-check the latest fishing regulations before casting your line. Parts of the Arkansas River only allow fly and lure fishing. There are also portions that are catch-and-release for specific fish species.

5. Rio Grande

The Rio Grande is a famous crossing between the U.S. and Mexico.

©iStock.com/Greg Meland

The Rio Grande, or Grand River, is one of Southern Colorado’s best fishing locations. It holds some of the largest trout, earning the river a gold medal water title. There are all sorts of campgrounds along the river, so you can spend a few days fishing and enjoying the wildlife and inspiring scenery. The upper areas of the river are perfect for dry fly-fishing during the summer; there are a lot of hatches.

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6. Steamboat Lake

Steamboat Lake
Steamboat Lake is a reservoir covering around 1,050 acres.

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Steamboat Lake also carries a gold medal water designation. The lake is a reservoir covering around 1,050 acres. One of the best fishing spots is right near the dam. You can take advantage of a separate entrance off the highway called Sage Flats; it’s south of the visitors center. After parking, it’ll take you about 10-15 minutes to walk to the dam. Cross the dam and begin fishing along the scenic grassy shore.

7. Clear Creek River

The waters of Clear Creek are fairly clear, and they support a healthy fish population.

©iStock.com/Richard Lynn Brown

Clear Creek River has more than earned its spot on our list of the 10 best fishing spots in Colorado this summer. However, it’s more of a river than a creek. Situated in the front range foothills of Colorado, Clear Creek River runs for miles. It begins near the Continental Divide and travels along i-70 through the Colorado mining towns in Georgetown.

Get ready for some fun sight fishing. One of the best things about Clear Creek River is that it’s true to its name. The waters are fairly clear, and they support a healthy fish population. Since the creek runs along major highways, it’s easy to access it from multiple spots.

8. Lost Creek Wilderness

Lost Creek Wilderness
Lost Creek Wilderness is perfect for fly-fishing in Colorado.

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Lost Creek Wilderness is perfect for fly-fishing in Colorado. If you want to hike and aren’t concerned about the size of your catch, this is the wilderness spot for you. The headwaters are just South of Kenosha Pass. The creek flows into Lost Park, where it winds around for several miles before letting out under large rock piles. There are also two creeks on the east side of the wilderness area that are perfect for brook trout fishing; Wigwam and Goose Creek.

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9. Eagle River

Eagle River
Eagle River offers great access and all sorts of fish species.

©iStock.com/L Kelly Jones

Starting near the Continental Divide, Eagle River is a free-flowing stream. It offers great access and all sorts of fish species. One of the best parts about this river is that it’s usually on the way to other fishing locations. You’ll probably drive right past the Eagle River as you plan your fishing route. When you’re nearby, stop for a couple of hours of fishing. Just make sure you follow the summer regulations. If you’re fishing from the confluence of the East and South forks downstream to the Colorado River, you’ll have to abide by special rules. There’s a possession limit of two trout for these portions of the Eagle River. 

10. Snake River

Dry flies work well as bait when fishing the Snake River during the summer.

©Barry Bjork/Shutterstock.com

Last on our list of the 10 best fishing spots in Colorado this summer is the Snake River. The Snake River in Colorado has headwaters in two areas. One of the headwaters meets right near the Keystone resort, and the resort welcomes anglers! You don’t have to be a guest to access some of the best fishing spots on the resort’s property. Park in the resort parking lot and access the water from the bike path running along the river. As long as you’re practicing catch and release, you can have as much fun as you want. 

The trout in Snake River move around a lot. If you’re not having any luck in one spot, just move a few hundred feet downstream. Fish in all the different water types, including the cut banks. You’ll find that dry flies work well at Snake River during the summer. Soon enough, something big will be pulling your line.