If you love fishing but don’t always have enough time to make it out into the backcountry, it’s time you shifted the way you think about fishing holes and started to consider urban fishing opportunities. Here are five urban fishing spots in Colorado that you can get to after work, in the dead of winter, or even over your lunch break.
1. Denver’s South Platte River
Don’t let Denver’s urban environment deter you from exploring what the city’s waterways have to offer. From largemouth bass to channel catfish to your favorite trout species, the South Platte River in Denver is host to a much wider variety of fish species than you can find higher in the mountains, and whether you fish it from a kayak or a bridge, and with a spin or fly rod, you are sure to find success.
While you can access the Platte from a variety of locations around town, one great spot is just south of downtown at Overland Pond Park. From the parking lot head upstream until you find a man-made rock structure creating rapids in the river. Just below the rapids is a deep area that is home to plenty of fish of different species. For a slightly more natural environment, head to southwest Denver’s sprawling Chatfield State Park and fish the South Platte upstream from where the Perimeter road crosses the river.
2. Pueblo’s Arkansas River
Colorado’s legendary Arkansas River, home to world class whitewater and best known for its epic Royal Gorge, doesn’t just flow through iconic mountains and canyons. Follow the river downstream and you will reach the Front Range city of Pueblo, where you will find ample urban fishing opportunities.
Luckily for the urban angler, the city has devoted resources to making access to the river easy: take advantage of the Pueblo River Trail System to explore the miles of fishable river below the Pueblo Reservoir Dam. Park at either the Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo, or the parking lot at Valco Ponds for access to the trails, and make your way up or down. Expect to fish for trout, although word is smallmouth bass have been caught in the area. A quick pro tip: take your bike with you so that travel time between fishing spots is kept to a minimum.
3. Aspen’s Roaring Fork River
Perhaps more accessible than any other urban fishing spot, Aspen’s Roaring Fork River runs all the way through town, with bike and walking paths sometimes lining both banks of the river. Moreover, thanks to Aspen’s small size, you can walk to the river from almost anywhere in town within minutes. While most anglers fish the Roaring Fork further up or downstream from Aspen proper, there are excellent holes within the city limits that get almost no pressure. For most spots, prepare to wade in the river bed itself, as the banks can be lined with dense foliage that makes casting from shore difficult.
The fishing will be in shallower water for trout, so a fly-fishing set up is recommended. Try entering the river near where Mill Street crosses it; there is public parking just up the hill towards downtown. Work your way upstream fishing deeper holes and riffles until you reach Herron Park, a good place to exit and walk back to your car on the bike paths.
If you want bigger fish and can stand a ten minute drive, head down valley to the Brush Creek and Highway 82 Intercept Lot and follow trails down the steep canyon side to get at deeper, less accessible holes.
4. Silverthorne’s Blue River
The Blue River in Silverthorne might be Colorado’s best-known urban fishing spot. This stretch is a tailwater, with cold, nutrient rich water coming straight out of Dillon Reservoir, resulting in numerous trout. Drop your less adventurous friends at the Silverthorne outlets, and walk around the back of the complex until you hit the river. We recommend spending a few minutes walking downstream, before fishing your way up towards the dam, where you will eventually be stopped by a fence marking the point at which it is illegal to get any closer to the dam.
Due to the healthy fishery and easy access, the trout here get a fair amount of pressure and are somewhat picky. For the angler, pull out all the stops and use thinner tippet, avoid clunky flies, and pay close attention to presentation and your drift.
5. Durango’s Animas River
Southwest Colorado’s Animas River is known for big trout. Running almost 100 feet across where it winds through Durango, the river is scattered with big rocks, deep holes, and fun riffles that all present prime habitat for trout. Like many of these rivers, the Animas has a series of trails, official as well as fishermen’s trails, that provide a network of access points. If you’re looking for big fish, access the river at the Main Street Bridge and work your way upstream; locals regularly pull out 18 and 20-inch fish here. Further downstream is the access point at the City Chamber of Commerce, where there is good parking and a picnic area.
If it’s big fish that you’re after, look at throwing big, flashy streamers year-round, targeting deeper pools and behind larger boulders. Because the river is so large, it is also a great place for spin fisherman to get after it.
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