Top 8 Places for Fly Fishing Near Denver
When you visit the mile-high city, there is so much to offer in the way of fly fishing near Denver; it’s a gateway to exceptional angling opportunities within a short drive. From world class tailwater fisheries with exceptionally large trout to beautiful mountain streams full of eager, wild fish — few major metropolitan areas rival the quality of fly fishing near Denver. In this blog, we’ll discuss some of the popular places to fly fish near Denver located within a short drive that are both easily accessible and have high quality fly fishing opportunities.
1. Clear Creek
Clear Creek, a local favorite, winds its way through the foothills, offering an urban escape for fly fishing near Denver. This freestone river is not dam-controlled, providing a more natural flow. Known for its accessibility, the Clear Creek stretch near Golden offers a mix of rainbow and brown trout, generally in the 10-15″ range. While larger fish are available, we go to Clear Creek for the accessibility and the abundance of eager trout which are more obtainable for the beginner-to-intermediate angler.
Clear Creek is best fished on foot due to its size and tumbling rapids. Due to it’s freestone characteristic, it can be treacherous to fish during high water and is better suited for whitewater rafting and kayaking in the runoff months of late spring. Check the flows before you go and wade safely!
2. Blue River
If you keep driving west on I-70 to the town of Silverthorne, you will pass over the Blue River, a high quality tailwater coming out of the Dillon Reservoir which supports abundant populations of rainbow and brown trout. While the upper end in the town of Silverthorne is more urban, it supports some of the largest trout in the river that feed on a variety of aquatic insects and Mysis Shrimp coming out of the reservoir. The river gains more “wilderness” character as you travel downstream, but access becomes slightly more difficult. The fishing remains strong throughout its entirety into its confluence with the Colorado River.
We like the Blue River because of its accessibility near the town of Silverthorne for wade fishing. It is a great rest stop on any road trip west to stop for food and gas, but also wet a line and try for some of those picky trout that live near the dam.
3. Cheesman Canyon
Located on the South Platte River, Cheesman Canyon is a wilderness oasis that demands a bit more effort to reach but rewards with unparalleled beauty and selective trout. This section is a renowned tailwater fishery, thanks to the release of cold water from the dam, creating an optimal environment for trout. For the adventurous angler, the canyon section below Cheesman Lake is a bucket list fly fishing trip. Park at the lower or upper trailhead and make your way down to the canyon section for some of the highest-quality fly fishing near Denver. Supporting abundant populations of large rainbow and brown trout, Cheesman Canyon is a quintessential Colorado fly fishing experience.
Be forewarned, Cheesman Canyon and other South Platte River areas can host some of the most difficult fly fishing near Denver due to their popularity. For maximum success on your trip, we highly recommend stopping by a local Colorado fly fishing shop to get the latest area fishing report and pick up hot flies that are working.
4. The Dream Stream
The Dream Stream, also known as the Charlie Meyers State Wildlife Area, is a famous stretch of the South Platte River nestled between Spinney Mountain Reservoir and Elevenmile Reservoir. This tailwater fishery is celebrated for its tranquil beauty and large trout, including hefty rainbows and browns. The allure of the Dream Stream lies in its peaceful surroundings and the chance to land trophy-sized fish on selective waters where the fish become very smart. While the Dream Stream can be a challenging place to fish, it allows for some of the best opportunities for fly fishing near Denver for exceptionally large trout that you might not find elsewhere. Again, due to its popularity, the fish are very selective, and having the right fly and the right presentation can make or break a day. Stop by a local fly fishing shop for the right flies and tips for success.
Deckers is a small town on another section of the South Platte River. Known as a fly fishing haven renowned for its beauty and abundant populations of trout which gives it a “Gold Medal” status, providing exceptional fly fishing near Denver. This tailwater section boasts a mix of riffles, runs, and deep pools, creating diverse habitats for rainbow and brown trout. The town of Deckers, with its welcoming atmosphere, serves as a gateway to this fly fishing paradise as it gives the Denver-based angler the most “bang for your buck” due to its proximity to the metro area.
6. Arkansas River
The Arkansas River, flowing through the heart of the Rockies, is a true Rocky Mountain jewel for fly fishing near Denver. Browns Canyon, near Buena Vista, is a famous section that combines breathtaking scenery with excellent fishing for brown and rainbow trout. The river is known for stunning characteristics and whitewater, and the stretch below the Browns Canyon National Monument is particularly famous for its trophy-sized trout. The Arkansas River provides exceptional public access from state lands to BLM, making it a perfect destination for the wading angler. And for those with some rowing skills, there are abundant float fishing opportunities with the use of a raft. We don’t recommend drift boats due to its rocky nature and rapids.
7. Upper Colorado River
The Colorado River, a grand adventure in itself, offers diverse opportunities along its course and while its not the close option, it deserves its place in this list of places to fly fish near Denver. The upper reaches near Kremling provide pristine waters and the scenic beauty of breathtaking canyon walls unique to the area. This river is famous for its diverse trout species, including browns, rainbows, and cutthroat. While wade fishing is a popular strategy for the upper Colorado River, we prefer to fish it from a boat to cover the maximum amount of water possible. For those who want to make the most of your fly fishing trip near Denver, book a guided Colorado River fly fishing trip with us!
The Colorado River’s reputation as a western gem stems from its majestic surroundings and the chance to experience fly fishing near Denver in one of the country’s most iconic river systems. It’s a must-do for any angler!
8. Big Thompson River
Our home river and the place we know best for fly fishing near Denver! Fly fishing the Big Thompson River is a must-do experience while on a trip to Denver, or really anywhere on the front range. From its origins in the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park to the high-quality tailwater section below Lake Estes, the Big Thompson River supports a wide variety of different angling situations depending on your desired experience. While the further upstream you go, the fish may get smaller, you are compensated with stunning alpine views of towering mountains like the famous 14er Longs Peak. Fish below Lake Estes dam and experience large rainbow and brown trout. And for those who want to really learn the fishery and want to guarantee their catch, book an Estes Park guided fly fishing trip with us and make sure to check out Big Thompson River fishing report! Our guides are experts on the Big Thompson River and other streams in the area. We provide all necessary gear and instruction!
While there are more places to fly fish near Denver not listed here, we feel that this is the essential list and we will continue to add to it as time goes on. If you have any questions about where to go fly fishing near Denver, give our Estes Park fly shop a call! We are happy to point you in the right direction or even schedule a trip for you with one of our Colorado fly fishing guides!