11 of the Best Fishing Spots Near and Around Denver

Fishing is one of those things you may have done as a kid, but need a little boost to get back into. Get in touch with your inner fisherman, check out these spots and throw a line in for a whopper. Some lakes are close to home, but busy. Others are a little out of the way, quieter and more peaceful than the rowdy Denver-metro ponds. All are under a two-hour drive from Denver, some are within minutes. Plus, get some insight from a seasoned fly fisherman on how to take on the wild river.

Before you grab — or rent — a pole, make sure you sign up for a fishing license. If you’re torn between the day pass and the annual pass, just remember the money goes into protecting Colorado’s beloved public lands and forests.

COVID-19 note: make sure to check with county rules and regulations before you go, as some areas may be closed or have new restrictions. Additionally, you now need a hunting or fishing license to hike in Colorado state wildlife areas.

Photo courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife via Facebook.

High pressure versus low-pressure fishing is one thing to take into consideration when choosing a spot. For example, if a lake is labeled high pressure, you can assume lots of other people will be around trying their luck at hooking a whopper. At low-pressure lakes, your fishing vibe is less likely to be disturbed.

High-Pressure Lakes

Georgetown Lake

This lake is a trout fisherman’s dream. Brook trout, brown trout and rainbow trout — what else could you want? Catch and release the small ones, but feel free to take the whoppers — eight inches or larger — home for a fresh Colorado dinner. The limit is four per adult and two per child.

Click here for more information and here for driving directions.

Ferril Lake

Do you love to people watch? Then this lake is for you. Thousands of people visit Denver’s City Park every year. Yards from the Denver Zoo, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, a bandstand, boat dock, jogging trails and grassy knolls, this spot has just about everything. Waiting for that bobber to plummet beneath the surface can get a little, well, one-dimensional, so Ferril Lake keeps you entertained in other ways.

Click here for driving directions.

Cherry Creek Reservoir

For those of you who might want something a little out of the box, you can underwater spearfish at Cherry Creek Reservoir as long as you follow the guidelines set by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. But if spearfishing isn’t your thing, you can fish conventionally as well. Catch and release is great, but make sure you verse yourself on your fish species. There are some size and species restrictions you need to follow before you bag ’em for dinner.

Click here for driving directions.

Medium-Pressure Lakes

Gross Reservoir

With 10.9 miles of shoreline, Gross Reservoir is anything but gross. This is the perfect spot to get away from urban life and you can even pitch a tent at a designated campsite. The area has ample parking, picnic areas and lots of space so you won’t feel nearly as crowded as you might at a Denver Metro pond. So, throw a line in the water and relax.

Click here for more information and here for driving directions.

Sprague Lake

Feel like an easy morning hike to a 13-acre lake? You’ll be rewarded with breathtaking scenery and reflections of surrounding mountains on the water. Bring your fishing pole to catch native cutthroat trout.

Click here for more information and here for driving directions.

Thorton Gravel Lake #2

This 59-acre pond offers the opportunity to catch a variety of fish species including bluegill, carp and catfish. Only the east side of the pond is open to fish from, which concentrates the number of fishermen in the space. Even so, this lake is nearby and a great place to go and try your luck.

Click here for driving directions.

Low-Pressure Lakes

Jewell Park Pond

Sometimes low-pressure lakes can be a give and take — less people, less fish. Jewel Park Pond is a Lakewood gem. It’s a nice, relaxing place to catch catfish and crappie — but the fish aren’t stocked — so your chance of a bite might be a little lower.

Click here for driving directions.

Westminster City Park Pond

Westminster City Park Pond is one of the few ponds in the Denver area that is both stocked and sports minimal foot traffic. Expect a quiet spot to catch bass, perch, trout and more.

Click here for driving directions.

Fly Fishing

You can fly fish in lakes, but 303 Magazine wanted to name some options to fly fish in moving water, as well.

Andy McKinley is a fly fisherman with Duranglers out of Durango and has been fly fishing for 23 years. His biggest piece of advice is to just get out there and try it.

Go with someone who has gone fly fishing before — a guide or just a friend who fly fishes. It cuts down on the learning curve,” McKinley said. “The more people we have as fishermen, the more people we have as conservation voices for the rivers.”

“The best places near Denver for me are the Arkansas River and the Colorado River. Especially since they are two hours away, they kind of embody Colorado fishing.” McKinley said.

Photo by Holly Graham.

South Platte Park (stream)

If you’re looking for local fly fishing in Denver, South Platte Park (stream) is top-notch. This is a great place to work on your cast and catch varieties of trout, walleye, green sunfish, bass and carp. Fishing pressure is low, so you should have plenty of bank all to yourself. With this one, stick to the stream. Fishing in many lakes near here is prohibited.

Click here for driving directions.

Colorado River

The Colorado River is one of the best rivers for fly fishing. It doesn’t matter whether you want to float downstream or walk-and-wade from the bank, the Colorado River has something for every fly fisher — beginner and professional.

The stretch between Kremmling and Byers Canyon offers plenty of access from the shore. This area is used often for lessons and is a great place to practice.

If you are a professional, check out the rapid-riddled Gore Canyon. This area is known for intense kayaking and is not for the amateur fly fisher, but if you have the experience, go for it.

Arkansas River

This might be the best time of year to fly fish the Arkansas River. Heavy pupation of caddis, a main meal for trout and other fish, mean top-notch fly fishing in areas such as Lower Bighorn, Upper Bighorn and even Big Bend. Some key areas to fish on the Arkansas River include Coaldale and Vallie Bridge, Texas Creek and Parkdale.

For a nearly complete list of Colorado’s fishing spots, fish species by lake, age requirements, boat laws, most recent stocks and more go here.