The 8 Best Fish to Catch in Colorado This Summer

What Do Trout Eat - Rainbow Trout Bursting from Surface
© FedBul/

Written by Abdulmumin Akinde

Updated: October 6, 2022

Share on:


There are more than fifty-five species of native fish in the various rivers, creeks, and lakes of Colorado. In the 1870s, the government kick-started a program to introduce even more fish species to the state. Today, Colorado is a sort of paradise for fishing enthusiasts. Many of Colorado’s lakes and reservoirs offer excellent fishing opportunities. There’s an abundance of fish species to look out for, whether you’re into trophy hunting or just a regular angler in search of some fun and adventure. This guide will show you some of the best fish to catch in Colorado and where to find them this summer. 

1. Trouts 

What Do Trout Eat - Rainbow Trout Bursting from Surface

Colorado is home to rainbow trout, lake trout, and other trout.


Rainbow trout is the most common freshwater trout in North America. It is also one of the most sought-after fish species in Colorado waters. That’s partly because of this fish’s beautiful “multi-hued coloration” (which explains its name). However, another primary reason for the rainbow trout’s popularity among anglers is that they give a good fight when caught, making them perfect for sports fishing. 

Rainbow trout often grow to an average of 20 inches or more and may weigh up to 8.7 kilograms and 10 ounces. Although they’re non-native species, they have become relatively abundant and can be found in the Colorado and Clear Creek rivers. In addition to the rainbow trout, other trout species that are pretty common in Colorado include the brook trout, cutthroat trout, brown trout, and lake trout.

2. Humpback Chub 

Humpback chub (Gila cypha)

Anglers love to catch humpback chub because of its odd appearance.

©Melanie Martin/

The humpback chub is a big fish most commonly seen in the Colorado River and its tributaries. As the name suggests, the humpback chub has a prominent hump between the dorsal and head fin. Though oddly built, this fish is beautifully colored with a silver hue on the sides and glint olive-gray at its back. They have white bellies and are almost scaleless. Of course, the odd appearance of this fish is the primary reason why anglers love to catch them. Chubs are one of the endangered fish species in the Colorado River. Due to drastic habitat loss and other factors, it has become a rare find. 

3. Kokanee Salmon

A school of bright red sockeye salmon swimming upstream

Kokanee salmon are found in deep lakes and clear rivers in Colorado.

©JCA Images/

Another oddly shaped fish and rare find, the shiny silverfish, is quite common in the deep waters of the Pacific Northwest. Relatively small, with an average weight of 6 pounds (close to 3 kilograms) and 13 ounces, you’re likely to find this salmon in deep lakes and clear rivers in Colorado. Some top spots for fishing for Kokanee salmon include Clear Creek, Beaver Creek, and Spinney Mountain Reservoir. The fish is highly sought after because they’re very acrobatic and fierce fighters.

4. Razorback Sucker 

razorback sucker

The razorback sucker is famous for its long lifespan.

©USFWS / Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

The razorback sucker is another of the best fish to catch in Colorado. It weighs up to 10 pounds and can be up to 3 feet at full-adult growth size. Anglers often catch the razorback sucker in the Colorado River system. You can also find them in reservoirs like Lake Mead and Lake Havasu. The predorsal keel of the razorback sucker makes them distinct from other sucker breeds. They have a bulge between the head and dorsal fin, forming a sharp edge close to the head. In addition to the massive bulge that earned them their name, razorbacks are also famous for their long lives. They can live close to four decades, and their population is currently threatened. 

5. Bass

Trophy Largemouth Bass

Colorado is a good place to fish for bass.


The Arkansas River is a warm water river, and one of the species closely associated with this river is the bass family of fish. The river hosts a wide variety of bass fish, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, and striped bass. The largemouths can be found in many popular Colorado rivers and may weigh close to 5 kilograms. The smallmouth bass is also quite common in Colorado. They thrive in cold and clear rivers like the Yampa River or Colorado River. Another common but less encountered species is the spotted bass. They’re more common in deep lakes and aren’t often seen on the surface. 

6. Bonytail Chub

Bonytail chub (Gila elegans)

It is best to return the bonytail chub back to the river because it is critically endangered.

©Brian Gratwicke / CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

The bonytail chub is a relative of the humpback chub but has a much different appearance. Instead of spotting a prominent hump, the bonytail is known for its thin tailstock. This explains the origin of its name. The bonytail chub lives in the Colorado River but is one of the rarest fish species you’ll find in the state. If you ever catch one, it is best to return it to the water as they’re now critically endangered. 

7. Pikes & Muskies

Musky or Muskellunge

Pikes and muskies can be quite challenging to catch.


Muskies and pikes are among the most popular fish species among trophy fishers in Colorado. Both fish species belong to the same family (Esocidae), and they’re known for their ability to give anglers a tough fight. The musky is a long river fish and weighs up to 18 kilograms. Pikes, on the other hand, can weigh up to 6 kilograms. You can find this fish in creeks and lakes like the Gross Reservoir, Evergreen Lake, and Carter Lake.

8. Catfish

Channel catfish

Channel catfish can be caught all over Colorado.

©Aleron Val/

Catfish are among the most common fish species in the world. In North America, we have three major breeds: Yellow catfish, channel catfish, and blue catfish are among the best fish to catch in Colorado. They thrive in lakes and rivers, and they grow pretty large. 

Channel catfish are seen almost all around the country. They can be found in still waters, rivers, sluggish streams, or mud and weigh up to 20 kilograms. Most of them are caught in traps but can also be caught on a line. Unlike the channel catfish, blue catfish and yellow catfish feed on bait fish like the green sunfish. The blue catfish weighs close to 68 kilograms, while the flathead catfish weighs 56 kilograms at full size. Channel catfish are native to eastern Colorado and are more commonly found there. However, they’re now being reintroduced in other parts of the state. 


Sport fishing is a fun activity to engage in, and there are a lot of great places for anglers to explore in Colorado. So if you’re up for some fun time in Colorado this summer, the listed species are among the best fish to catch in Colorado.

Up Next 

The 10 Best Fishing Spots in Nebraska This Summer

The 10 Best Fishing Spots in Colorado This Summer

The 7 Best Fish to catch in Hawaii this Summer

Share this post on:
About the Author

Abdulmumin is a pharmacist and a top-rated content writer who can pretty much write on anything that can be researched on the internet. However, he particularly enjoys writing about animals, nature, and health. He loves animals, especially horses, and would love to have one someday.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.