Colorado Springs Fishing: The Complete Guide for 2024

Feb 20, 2024 | 9 minute read
Reading Time: 9 minutes

When it comes to fishing, Colorado Springs is a hidden gem. Nestled at the foot of the majestic Rocky Mountains, this city isn’t just about jaw-dropping views and fresh mountain air. Colorado Springs offers an angling adventure like no other. Whether you’re casting a line in the shadow of Pikes Peak or getting your feet wet in the famous Arkansas River, the variety and quality of angling here are impressive.

A view from a hill looking towards a lake and the beginning of the rocky mountains in the distance in Colorado Springs at sunset on a hazy day

But what makes Colorado Springs stand out in the fishing world? First off, it’s not just about the number of fish (although there’s plenty), it’s the variety that’ll hook you. Plus, the unique blend of natural beauty and the sheer thrill of mountain and stream fishing give Colorado Springs a distinct angling personality.

In this guide, we’ll talk about the top fish species you’ll want to brag about, the methods that’ll make your experience unforgettable, and more. So without further ado, let’s get to it!

Best Fish to Catch in Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs is a place with a lineup of fish that reads like a who’s who of freshwater fishing. Here are the top fish species that make fishing in this area an unforgettable experience:

Rainbow Trout

A man and a woman posing on a fishing trip in Colorado, as the man holds a fishing net and the woman a Rainbow Trout on a grey day
Photo courtesy of Eagle River Outfitter – Fly Fishing

Heading out for Rainbow Trout in Colorado Springs? You’re aiming for the stars! These shimmering beauties are the acrobats of the Trout family throughout the globe, famous for their breathtaking jumps and spirited fights. Tipping the scales at an impressive 10–15 pounds, they make every catch feel like a victory. 

Try the chilly, pristine flows of the South Platte River, where fly fishing is particularly effective – and fun! Rainbows can’t resist a well-presented fly. Whether you’re teasing them with delicate dry flies during the hatch or going undercover with nymphs, you’re in for some serious action. Keep an eye out for surface ripples, it might just be a Rainbow feasting below. Pro flies to try include the Blue-Winged Olive or a sneaky Caddis.

Brown Trout

A man standing on a boat on Eleven Mile Reservoir in Colorado Springs on a clear day while holding a Brown Trout
Photo courtesy of All Pro Outdoors – 11 Mile & Spinney Mountain

Now, let’s sneak up on the elusive Brown Trout – as you’ll want to! These guys are like secret agents. Brownies are mysterious and are definitely more challenging to catch than Rainbows. Averaging a similar size to their relatives, they can surprise you with some whoppers, too. 

As for the best tactic? Head to calmer spots like Eleven Mile Canyon and get ready to outwit these clever Trout. They prefer quieter, deeper waters, so a well-placed fly or minnow-like lures on spinning gear could be your golden ticket. And don’t forget that Brown Trout are early risers and late sleepers, so dawn and dusk are your best bets.


A man standing on a fishing charter on a Eleven Mile Reservoir in Colorado Springs on a bright day and holding a Large Pike, with blue skies visible behind him
Photo courtesy of All Pro Outdoors – 11 Mile & Spinney Mountain

Craving some more adrenaline? Pike fishing in Colorado Springs will quench that thirst. These are the heavyweight targets – aggressive, powerful, and a real test of your angling mettle. Weighing in at a hefty 20–30 pounds, they’re known for their ferocious strikes and mighty fights. 

To get these prehistoric-looking monsters to bite, head to reservoirs like Eleven Mile. Your arsenal should include heavy-duty rods and lines, and don’t skimp on large, flashy lures. Pike love a good chase! Plus, if you’re feeling brave, why not try ice fishing in the depths of winter? 

Cutthroat Trout

A man and a woman in full winter gear posing with their Cutthroat Trout catch on a frozen lake in Colorado
Photo courtesy of Rocky Mountain Outfitters Of Colorado

If you’re looking for a more serene experience, it’s time to meet Cutthroat Trout, Colorado’s native pride. These fish are a bit more relaxed and less fussy than the other Trout we’ve mentioned, making them perfect for those just starting out or looking for a calmer day next to the water. Their distinctive red slashes under their jaws make them stand out from the crowd, while targeting them is just as fun as with their cousins. 

You’ll find Cutthroats chilling in the high mountain streams and lakes, enjoying shallower waters. When it comes to luring them in, think light tackle and small flies. If you get your timing right – for example, during the Green Drake hatch – you’ll be in for a real treat.


A man in a woolly hat and sunglasses crouches down on a frozen lake in Colorado while holding a Walleye
Photo courtesy of All Pro Outdoors – Ice Fishing

Last but not least on Colorado Springs’ impressive fishing menu is Walleye. Averaging a respectable 10–20 pounds, these fish are known for their subtle bites and great taste. But there’s something extra about targeting these beauties – it’s best done under the cover of darkness! 

Nighttime is when the Walleye party starts, and spots like Pueblo Reservoir are where the excitement takes place. Bottom fishing techniques like jigging or using bottom bouncers are your best bet. Live bait like nightcrawlers or minnows work great but don’t hesitate to experiment with crankbaits or soft plastics. It’s a game of patience and stealth with these night owls.

How to Go Fishing in Colorado Springs

Fishing in Colorado Springs isn’t just about what you catch, but how you catch it. The diverse fishing scene here calls for an equally diverse set of techniques and methods. Let’s break them down:

Fly Fishing

A group of five fly fishing anglers of both genders wading in a row through the shallow waters of the Eagle River in Colorado on a bright day, with the second woman holding a fly fishing rod
Photo courtesy of Eagle River Outfitter – Fly Fishing

Fly fishing in Colorado Springs is like an art. Picture yourself in the Arkansas River, where the water is so clear you could read a book through it. Here, the trick is to “match the hatch.” This means you’ve got to play detective and watch what insects are buzzing around and choose a fly to mimic these little critters. 

Smaller nymphs are great for when the fish are feeding underwater. Plus, those delicate dry flies are perfect for when Trout are picking off bugs from the water’s surface. Don your waders, keep your movements slow and deliberate, and you’re all set for some top-notch fly fishing.

Ice Fishing

A group of five anglers pose in front of a big, red ice hut on a frozen lake in Colorado on a clear day
Photo courtesy of NoCo Fishing Outfitters – Ice Fishing

Ice fishing in Colorado Springs is a whole different world for anglers when the winter kicks in. You can cut a hole in the ice and set up camp on Eleven Mile Reservoir. Jigging is key here – you’re basically doing a little dance with your lure to make it look like an easy snack for the fish below. Small jigs tipped with mealworms or minnows are your secret weapon. 

A pro tip: always check the thickness of the to keep things safe. It’s a unique mix of the calm of the great outdoors and the excitement of waiting for a bite in the chilly air that makes this so alluring. Head out with a professional guide if in any doubt. 

Spinning & Trolling

For those who prefer a more active style of fishing, spin fishing is the way to go. The lakes and rivers around Colorado Springs are perfect for this. It’s all about how you present your lure here, with spinners, spoons, and crankbaits proving attractive. Cast out and reel in with varying speeds and movement to attract fish like Pike and Walleye. It’s an exciting and engaging way to fish, making sure to keep you on your toes.

Big reservoirs like Eleven Mile are where trolling comes into its own. This method involves dragging your lure behind a slowly moving boat. It’s a great technique for targeting deeper-dwelling Walleye and Trout. The key is to vary the depth of your bait and your speed until you find where the fish are biting. Downriggers and depth finders can be game-changers in this style of fishing.

Colorado Springs Charter Fishing

A family of four, including two men and two teenage children stand in front of a fishing boat out of the water on a cloudy day, holding their haul of fish after a successful day fishing
Photo courtesy of Lowry Outdoor Adventures – 21′ Ranger

Thinking of booking a Colorado Springs fishing charter? Well, you should. It’s the best way to dive deep into the local fishing culture, especially for those new to the area or to fishing itself. Charters are typically run by seasoned guides who know these waters like the back of their hand. They’ll take you to the most productive spots and provide insider tips and tricks to give you the upper hand. 

Colorado Springs charters mainly focus on lake and reservoir fishing. Whether you’re targeting Walleye in the Pueblo or Trout in the Eleven Mile Reservoir, these charters have the gear and expertise to make your trip successful and enjoyable. They provide not only the boat and navigation but also top-of-the-line gear and lures.

Colorado Springs Fishing Spots

A view across the waters of Eleven Mile Reservoir in Colorado Springs on a clear day, with one boat and two anglers fishing from it in the distance

We’ve mentioned a few but let’s take a closer look at where you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck in Colorado Springs. Here’s a rundown of the top fishing spots that you simply can’t miss:

  • Arkansas River. A fly fisher’s dream, this river offers miles of Gold Medal waters and is especially famous for its Rainbow and Brown Trout. The river’s flow and structure provide both ample food and ideal casting spots for Trout. The section near Salida is particularly noteworthy for its accessibility and fish population.
  • Eleven Mile Reservoir. If you’re after trophy-sized Trout and Pike, look no further. This large, scenic reservoir is not only a hotspot for big catches but also offers stunning views and plenty of space for both shore and boat fishing. It’s also a top destination for ice fishing when the temperature drops.
  • Pueblo Reservoir. For a diverse fishing experience, this is the place to be. Known for its Walleye, Bass, and Catfish, this reservoir offers both quantity and quality. The north shore is particularly popular with its easy access where spin and bait fishing enthusiasts can find their mojo.
  • Spinney Mountain Reservoir. A haven for anglers seeking peace and big fish, this body of water is great for fly fishing and trolling in equal measure. The reservoir is renowned for its large Rainbow Trout and Pike. 
  • Antero Reservoir. If you’re into scenic fishing, the Antero is your spot. With the backdrop of the Rockies, it’s as picturesque as it is productive. Known for its large Trout, the reservoir offers excellent shore fishing opportunities, ideal for those without a boat.

When to Go Fishing in Colorado Springs

A view out the back of a fishing boat on a lake in Colorado on a clear day, with the sun shining brightly in the distance above some mountains, while the boat's wake is visible behind the engine in the foreground
Photo courtesy of Teacher Todd Guide Service

As you’ve probably guessed by now, fishing in Colorado Springs is a year-round affair. Spring here is like nature’s opening day for fishing. As the ice melts and the waters warm up, the fish become more active, making it a prime time for anglers. Rainbow and Brown Trout are particularly active during this period, as they prepare for spawning. 

Come summer, and fishing in Colorado Springs is in full swing. The warmer temperatures mean active fish and ideal conditions for all angling methods. This is the perfect time for early morning or late evening fishing trips, especially in lakes and reservoirs where species like Bass and Walleye are particularly active. Fly fishing in the high mountain streams can also be incredibly rewarding during this season.

As the leaves change in fall, so does the fishing scene. Fall is a favorite for many anglers, thanks to the cooling temperatures and the start of the spawning runs for several Trout species. It’s a great time for fly fishing in rivers and streams, as the fish are more likely to bite in preparation for the winter. Additionally, Pike fishing can be excellent in the fall, especially in the larger reservoirs.

Winter might seem quiet, but ice fishing takes center stage. Lakes and reservoirs like Eleven Mile and Antero freeze over sufficiently for you to get out there and target Trout, Pike, and much more. 

Colorado Springs Fishing Tournaments

Colorado Springs also hosts several fishing tournaments throughout the year. These tournaments often focus on species like Trout and Pike, and are held in various locations across the city. They’re not only a great way to test your skills against other anglers but also fantastic opportunities to learn new techniques and make friends. 

Colorado Springs Fishing Regulations

An infographic featuring the flag of Colorado, a vector of a boat, and the FishingBooker logo, along with text stating "Colorado Springs Fishing Regulations: What You Need to Know" against a blue background

In Colorado Springs, a valid Colorado fishing license is required for anyone over the age of 16 who wants to cast a line. You can easily purchase your permit online or at local sporting goods stores.

There are also bag and size limits, which vary depending on the species and location. It’s important to stay updated through the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website. For example, there are specific regulations for Trout in Gold Medal waters like the Arkansas River. Additionally, certain areas may have restrictions on bait or catch-and-release regulations to protect local fish populations.

Colorado Springs Fishing: A Bit of Everything! 

A view across a calm lake in Colorado, reflecting a number of hot air balloons visible above in the clear sky

From the adrenaline-pumping fight of a Pike to the serene beauty of fly fishing for Trout in mountain streams, Colorado Springs is a true angler’s paradise. It has everything you could wish for – whenever you visit! So, what are you waiting for? Book your trip and experience it yourself. Happy fishing!

Have you ever been fishing in Colorado Springs? Any stories or tips to share with us and your fellow anglers? Let’s chat in the comments below!

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Lisa traded the lecture hall for the vast expanse of the world's waters, transforming her love of teaching into an insatiable passion for angling and storytelling. She would sail through oceans, lakes, and rivers, reeling in the world’s fish stories one catch at a time.

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