Colorado is known for having some of the best trout streams in the country and Summit County is certainly no exception. Summit County is centrally located to some of the best places for fly fishing in Colorado. Here are some of our favorite places to fish in or near Summit County.
1. Blue River
The Blue River is a particularly popular choice for anglers in Colorado and for good reason. There are four main sections of the Blue River: the upper, tailwater, middle, and lower sections.
The upper section flows through the town of Breckenridge and offers plentiful opportunities to pick apart water, as there are lots of pockets and divots for trout to hide in. If you plan on fishing the upper section, expect a healthy mix of rainbow and brown trout.
The tailwater section flows from Lake Dillon, making its way north through the town of Silverthorne. This is probably the most popular stretch of the Blue River, as it was designated as Gold Medal water in 2017. As a tailwater, the bugs on the tailwater stretch are typically much smaller. Additionally, Lake Dillion holds a healthy population of mysis shrimp. If you plan on targeting the tailwater stretch, make sure you have appropriately sized flies, as well as mysis patterns, which make up a majority of the trout population’s diet on this stretch of river.
North of the town of Silverthorne, the middle stretch of the Blue River continues to provide plenty of opportunities to catch a trophy fish. Meandering in and out of public land, there are many points of access on the middle stretch. Private landowners are known for stocking fish, and the chances that a large trout swims into a publicly accessible stretch are high.
Below Green Mountain Reservoir is known as the lower stretch. The first 3 miles of the river are public access and your chances of catching a trophy-sized trout are particularly good in this stretch. This stretch also provides the best bug life on any of the stretches of the Blue River.
The Blue River is fishable year-round.
2. Colorado River
Perhaps one of the most famous rivers in Colorado, and certainly the most popular freestone river, is the Colorado River. Bet you didn’t see that one coming. Like its freestone counterpart, the Arkansas River, the Colorado River is incredibly lengthy and littered with access points to fish.
In this article, we’re concentrating on the Upper Colorado, or the stretch from Lake Granby to Kremmling, Colorado. Having earned Gold Medal status long ago, this stretch of the Colorado is well-known for its abundance of medium to large brown and rainbow trout.
As a freestone river, the Colorado is largely dependent on snowfall and precipitation throughout the year to thrive as a viable fishery. In recent years, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has issued voluntary fishing closures along the river during the summer months due to low flows and high water temperatures. If you are planning to get out and fish along the Colorado during the summer, make sure that you adhere to best practices to ensure the health and longevity of the infamous trout population in this beautiful river.
The Upper Colorado River is fishable year-round.
3. Eagle River
The Eagle River flows from just south of Red Cliff to its confluence with the Colorado River in Dotsero. The Eagle River is known for its prolific dry fly hatches, as well as for its wild brown and rainbow trout. Caddis hatches are particularly spectacular in the spring and early summer. There is a short float fishing season that usually occurs between April-July. There is also ample public access on the Eagle River below Wolcott and above Edwards.
The Eagle River is fishable year-round.
4. Arkansas River
With over 150 miles of river to fish, you’ll be hard pressed to find a freestone river along the Front Range with a higher concentration of fish. Conveniently accessed in and around the towns of Leadville, Buena Vista, and Salida, the Arkansas River offers plentiful opportunities to catch healthy, feisty fish.
The Arkansas River can be fished via boat or on foot. Note: this river is not suitable for drift boats or other hard-sided watercraft. Whether you choose to float the Arkansas in a raft or via walk and wade, there’s plenty of river to cover regardless of which method you choose.
Because the Arkansas River receives high volumes of snowmelt during runoff, the “Ark” is flushed of debris and sediment yearly. This contributes to the incredible amount of aquatic life that flourishes in this river, ultimately leading to healthy populations of trout. The Arkansas River is especially known for its frequent large dry fly hatches.
While you might find that the average size of fish caught on the Arkansas is not huge, the dense fish population will leave you happy and satisfied with your day on the water, regardless.
Stretches of the Arkansas River are fishable year-round.
5. Roaring Fork River
The confluence of the Frying Pan River and Roaring Fork River occurs in the town of Basalt. From this confluence to the Roaring Fork’s confluence with the Colorado River, this stretch of water also holds Gold Medal designation. This stretch of river is nearly 22 miles long, providing shots at world class brown trout. However, wading on the Roaring Fork can be tough, and a majority of this stretch of river is best accessed via boat.
The Roaring Fork River is fishable year-round.