The 10 Best Fishing Lakes in Colorado (And the Types of Fish to Expect!)

Columbine Lake Colorado
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Written by Lev Baker

Updated: June 26, 2023

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Colorado is a paradise for fishing enthusiasts, with over 4,000 lakes and reservoirs scattered throughout its breathtaking landscapes. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a novice seeking a memorable fishing experience, this diverse array of water bodies offers something for everyone.

In this article, we’ll highlight the 10 best fishing lakes in Colorado, showcasing their unique qualities and the various types of fish you can expect to encounter in each one. From trout-filled alpine lakes to reservoirs brimming with bass and pike, Colorado’s fishing lakes offer a remarkable array of species and settings that will surely captivate any fishing enthusiast.

1. Blue Mesa Reservoir

To meet all your fishing needs, Blue Mesa Reservoir offers a well-stocked store with bait, tackle, and fishing equipment.

Experience the wonders of fishing at Blue Mesa Reservoir, the largest lake in Colorado, located in the southwest corner of the state. With its impressive 10,000-acre size and 96 miles of pristine shoreline, this reservoir on the Gunnison River offers a haven for anglers and outdoor enthusiasts.

At Elk Creek Marina, anglers can take advantage of convenient access to the lake with boat launch ramps, ensuring a hassle-free start to their fishing trips. The reservoir also features several campgrounds, RV hookups, and lodging options, providing comfortable accommodations for those looking to extend their stay.

To meet all your fishing needs, Blue Mesa Reservoir offers a well-stocked store with bait, tackle, and fishing equipment. Whether you’re in search of the perfect lure or require essential supplies, the store has you covered.

After a rewarding day on the water, visitors can savor a delicious meal at the on-site restaurant, where they can relish regional flavors while sharing fishing tales with fellow anglers.

Fishing at Blue Mesa Reservoir is an angler’s dream, with an abundance of trout, salmon, and perch. The deep waters of the lake are known for harboring big lake trout and salmon, making it an ideal destination for those seeking trophy-sized catches. Even during winter, ice fishing enthusiasts can enjoy the frozen surface and the chance to catch a lunker!

2. Lake Granby

Lake Granby

This lake is known to have the most Mackinaw of any lake in Colorado drawing out anglers hoping to hook a giant one!

Lake Granby, spanning an impressive 7,256 surface acres, boasts over 40 miles of picturesque shoreline and reaches a remarkable depth of 221 feet. This magnificent lake offers abundant opportunities for fishing enthusiasts, with multiple access points available.

But fishing is not the only attraction of Lake Granby; it is also a beloved destination for campers, snowmobilers, hikers, and boating enthusiasts. In winter, ice fishing thrives, especially for lake trout, making it an exciting and productive activity.

With three marinas, several boat launch ramps, and the convenience of rental boats, Lake Granby is the perfect place for a memorable boating experience. Whether you prefer fly fishing, ice fishing, or pole fishing, this lake caters to all fishing styles.

The diverse range of fish species in Lake Granby guarantees an excellent fishing adventure. Anglers can expect to catch lake trout, brown trout, cut bow trout, rainbow trout, and kokanee salmon. The lake is consistently stocked to ensure a thriving and exciting fishing environment.

3. Aurora Reservoir

Aurora, Colorado Reservoir early morning

For public access, there is a well-equipped boat launch ramp conveniently situated in the middle of the lake on its western side.

Aurora Reservoir, with its expansive water surface spanning 800 acres, offers abundant opportunities for boating and fishing enthusiasts. The reservoir boasts an impressive shoreline stretching nearly 7 miles, providing ample space for anglers to fish from the banks.

For public access, there is a well-equipped boat launch ramp conveniently situated in the middle of the lake on its western side. This two-lane concrete ramp features a dock for easy boat entry and exit, and there is ample parking available for visitors.

The reservoir also caters to other water-related activities. It offers a designated scuba beach for those interested in underwater exploration, and restrooms are accessible to the public for convenience.

If you’re planning a fishing trip to Aurora Reservoir, you’ll be delighted by the diverse range of fish species that inhabit its waters. Among the notable catches are channel catfish, smallmouth bass, walleye, yellow perch, rainbow trout, tiger muskie, and wipers.

While there are no campgrounds or RV hookups directly at the reservoir, there are nearby lodging options for those who want to extend their stay and fully immerse themselves in the fishing experience.

4. Chatfield Reservoir

Chatfield Reservoir

If you’re wondering where to cast your line, Chatfield Lake offers a range of popular fishing spots.

Chatfield Reservoir, located near Denver, is a fantastic fishing destination spanning 1,500 surface acres. Its expansive 25-mile shoreline offers ample opportunities for anglers to fish from both boats and the bank. Whether you prefer drift fishing, trolling, still fishing, or fly fishing, Chatfield Lake has something for everyone.

With its boat ramps, marina, and spacious area, Chatfield Lake is well-suited for a variety of boating activities, camping, and of course, fishing. Certain sections of the lake are designated as “no wake” zones, creating ideal fishing spots.

If you’re wondering where to cast your line, Chatfield Lake offers a range of popular fishing spots. These include fishing near the outlets and inlets, as well as the gradual shores, steep shore banks, and cliffs.

One of the highlights of fishing at Chatfield Lake is the abundance of fish species you can target. Walleye, yellow perch, channel catfish, rainbow trout, carp, smallmouth bass, bluegill, and sunfish are among the exciting catches you can expect.

In addition to excellent fishing opportunities, Chatfield Lake boasts a range of amenities for visitors to enjoy. These include two boat ramps, camping facilities, picnic areas, restrooms, a marina, canoe/kayak rentals, a swimming beach, hiking trails, and even options for horseback riding.

5. Horsetooth Reservoir

Fort Collins- best camping near Fort Collins

The reservoir’s rocky outcroppings are particularly fruitful fishing spots.

Horsetooth Reservoir, a vast body of water spanning over six miles in length and nearly half a mile in width, offers an ideal playground for fishing lovers. With its abundance of warm water, this lake boasts approximately 20 miles of shoreline, providing ample opportunities for anglers to cast their lines, whether from the shore or a boat.

Visitors to Horsetooth Reservoir can take advantage of the convenient amenities available, including marinas, boat rentals, campgrounds, shopping options, dining establishments, and nearby lodging facilities.

For those fishing from the shore, it is recommended to experiment with different depths and locations along the water. The reservoir’s rocky outcroppings are particularly fruitful fishing spots. However, it’s important to note that fishing from the dams and engaging in ice fishing are strictly prohibited.

Anglers at Horsetooth Reservoir can expect an impressive variety of fish species. Among the catches commonly found here are trout, walleye, splake, white bass, perch, bluegill, and crappie. To increase your chances of success, try employing a range of lures such as plastic tubes, cranks, jigs, spinners, and worms. 

It comes as no surprise that Horsetooth Reservoir is consistently recognized as one of the top fishing destinations in Colorado!

6. Lake Pueblo

In addition to fishing, Lake Pueblo State Park, where the reservoir is located, offers a wide range of activities for outdoor enthusiasts.

Lake Pueblo, located in central Colorado, is a vibrant fishery spanning 4,000 acres with an impressive 60 miles of shoreline.

To enhance your fishing experience, you have the option to rent pontoon boats and various other boats by the hour or for the entire day. Moreover, the lake offers ample camping areas and RV hookups, ensuring a comfortable stay close to the water. Additionally, there are conveniently located lodging options, restaurants, bait shops, and convenience stores nearby, catering to all your needs.

Lake Pueblo’s exceptional bass fishing has established it as a preferred destination for fishing tournaments. In addition to bass, the lake is home to a variety of other sought-after species, such as blue catfish, black crappie, rainbow/cutthroat hybrids, channel catfish, walleye, wiper, flathead catfish, yellow perch, rainbow trout, saugeye, and bluegill.

To make your fishing trip even more convenient, several boat launch ramps and two marinas are available, ready to welcome boaters and ensure smooth access to the water.

In addition to fishing, Lake Pueblo State Park, where the reservoir is located, offers a wide range of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can enjoy boating, water skiing, jet skiing, swimming, hiking, biking, and wildlife viewing. The park has miles of trails that wind through scenic landscapes, providing opportunities for exploration and adventure.

7. Navajo Reservoir

Navajo State Park, Colorado

With nearly 160 miles of shoreline, anglers have ample opportunities to explore and cast their lines.

Navajo Lake, spanning an impressive 15,600 surface acres, is predominantly located in New Mexico, with only a small portion extending into Colorado. This expansive warm water lake offers excellent conditions for thriving bass and crappie populations, making it a prime destination for fishing enthusiasts.

With nearly 160 miles of shoreline, anglers have ample opportunities to explore and cast their lines. In Colorado, most of the shoreline is easily accessible for bank fishing, ensuring a convenient and enjoyable experience.

For those in need of supplies or equipment, the Two Rivers Marina in Colorado is a fantastic resource. They provide essential amenities such as gas, rental boats, and a convenient boat launch ramp. Moreover, visitors to Navajo Lake can take advantage of the various camping options, lodging facilities, and a range of shopping and dining establishments available in the area, ensuring a comfortable and well-rounded fishing trip.

When it comes to the diverse fish species available, Navajo Lake does not disappoint. Anglers can target a variety of exciting catches, including smallmouth bass, black crappie, northern pike, largemouth bass, kokanee salmon, rainbow trout, channel catfish, and bluegill.

8. Spinney Mountain Reservoir

Spinney Mountain Reservoir

World-class, trophy-winning trout fishing at Spinney Mountain Reservoir is top-notch! Combined with nearby Elevenmile this is a top pick!

Welcome to Spinney Mountain Reservoir, a renowned fishing destination in the central part of Colorado. This vast 2,500-acre lake, known as Gold Medal Water, is famous for its abundance of big rainbow trout. Whether you prefer bank fishing or exploring the picturesque shoreline spanning over 10 miles, this reservoir offers a memorable experience.

No matter what type of boat you have, Spinney Mountain Reservoir has got you covered. With two boat ramps, you can easily launch your canoe, kayak, pontoon, pleasure boat, or fishing boat, and there are no restrictions on horsepower. If you don’t have your equipment, don’t worry! Rental boats, fishing tackle, and supplies are readily available. Plus, there’s a convenient campground with RV hookups less than a mile away from the lake, ensuring a comfortable stay.

When it comes to fishing, Spinney Mountain Reservoir is a paradise from May through October, it offers exceptional opportunities to catch northern pike and various trout species. Whether you’re targeting rainbow trout, brown trout, hybrid cut bow trout, or cutthroat trout, you can expect action-packed trips. The average trout size ranges from 18 to 22 inches, weighing 3 to 5 pounds, and you might even reel in a trophy-class rainbow, brown, or hybrid cut bow trout!

However, the excitement doesn’t stop there. Spinney Mountain Reservoir is also home to a population of northern pike, including some of the largest in Colorado. 

9. Williams Fork Reservoir

Kokanee salmon

Kokanee salmon, known for their abundance, can be easily caught.

Williams Fork Reservoir, spanning over 1,600 surface acres, provides incredible opportunities for fishing enthusiasts all year round. During the winter months, the frozen surface of the reservoir makes it an ideal location for ice fishing. In the warmer seasons, anglers can choose between boat and shoreline fishing.

For those arriving by boat, there is a convenient boat launch ramp available, ensuring easy access to the water. Additionally, campgrounds equipped with RV hookups are present, offering a comfortable stay for visitors. Fishing from the shoreline is also a popular option, with approximately one-third of the 15-mile shoreline accessible for bank fishing.

One of the main attractions of Williams Fork Reservoir is its abundant fish population. There is regular stocking efforts by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. The reservoir boasts an excellent coldwater fishery, providing prime habitat for various trout species such as rainbows, browns, and cutthroats, as well as mackinaw lake trout. 

Kokanee salmon, known for their abundance, can be easily caught. They are particularly abundant in late autumn when anglers often find success in filling their bag limits. Moreover, Williams Fork Reservoir is highly regarded as an outstanding northern pike fishery.

It’s worth noting that Williams Fork Reservoir is subject to seasonal water level fluctuations due to water management requirements. Anglers should be aware of any potential restrictions or closures that may occur during periods of low water levels.

10. Ruedi Reservoir

Ruedi Reservoir in Aspen, Colorado, USA Summer

For those eager to launch their boats, a dedicated boat launch ramp is available, ensuring a hassle-free experience.

Ruedi Reservoir, nestled in the scenic northwest region of Colorado, is a beloved destination for anglers, campers, and boating enthusiasts. It is located in the White River National Forest, surrounded by stunning natural scenery. It offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the surrounding mountains and forests while fishing.

With its convenient accessibility, this 1,200-acre lake offers a wealth of opportunities for fishing enthusiasts to indulge in their favorite pastimes. Whether it’s ice fishing during the winter months or casting a line from a boat or the peaceful shorelines in spring and summer, this reservoir has it all.

For those eager to launch their boats, a dedicated boat launch ramp is available, ensuring a hassle-free experience. Likewise, campers can find solace in the fact that there are campgrounds to accommodate their outdoor adventures. RV hookups are not available. The campground offers a chance to immerse oneself in the natural beauty of the surroundings.

After a day of casting lines and reeling in the catch of the day, visitors can satisfy their appetites at a nearby restaurant. 

Anglers will delight in the diverse range of fish species inhabiting Ruedi Reservoir’s depths. Yellow perch, lake trout, brown trout, kokanee salmon, and rainbow trout can all be found here, providing ample opportunities for a successful fishing excursion. To further enhance the fishing experience, a nearby bait and tackle shop is conveniently located. This ensures enthusiasts are well-equipped for their angling endeavors.

Summary Of The 10 Best Fishing Lakes In Colorado

NumberLakeLocationTypes of Fish
1Blue Mesa ReservoirGunnison CountyTrout, salmon, perch
2Lake GranbyGrand CountyNorthern pike, rainbow trout, brown trout, hybrid cut bow trout, cutthroat trout
3Aurora ReservoirArapahoe CountyChannel catfish, smallmouth bass, walleye, yellow perch, rainbow trout, tiger muskie, wiper
4Chatfield ReservoirDouglas & Jefferson CountiesWalleye, yellow perch, channel catfish, rainbow trout, carp, smallmouth bass, bluegill, sunfish
5Horsetooth ReservoirLarimer CountyTrout, walleye, splake, white bass, perch, bluegill, crappie
6Lake PuebloPueblo CountyBass, blue catfish, black crappie, rainbow/cutthroat hybrids, channel catfish, walleye, wiper, flathead catfish, yellow perch, rainbow trout, saugeye, bluegill
7Navajo ReservoirArchuleta CountySmallmouth bass, black crappie, northern pike, largemouth bass, kokanee salmon, rainbow trout, channel catfish, bluegill
8Spinney Mountain ReservoirPark CountyNorthern pike, rainbow trout, brown trout, cutthroat trout, mackinaw lake trout, kokanee salmon
9Williams Fork ReservoirGrand CountyNorthern pike, rainbow trout, brown trout, and cutthroat trout, mackinaw lake trout, kokanee salmon
10Ruedi ReservoirPitkin & Eagle CountiesYellow perch, lake trout, brown trout, kokanee salmon, rainbow trout


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About the Author

Lev is a writer at AZ Animals who primarily covers topics on animals, geography, and plants. He has been writing for more than 4 years and loves researching topics and learning new things. His three biggest loves in the world are music, travel, and animals. He has his diving license and loves sea creatures. His favorite animal in the world is the manta ray.

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