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Fishing Information

Backcast on a mountain lake

Fishing Areas

Fishing Flies & Lures

There are lots of outstanding opportunities for fishing in the Gunnison Basin ranging from roadside lakes & rivers to hidden ponds and remote streams that you have to work to get to.  Almost all of these opportunities are on public lands managed by the BLM, Forest Service and Park Service but there are a few places on private land where the Division of Wildlife has acquired public fishing easements.  Most private land, though, is closed to public fishing unless you have the permission of the landowner.  The boundary between public and private land does not have to be marked so it is your responsibility to know where you are and be sure you are not trespassing.  Stop by our office to get a map or talk with one of our specialists about access into the places you want to fish.

Wherever you are fishing it is important to take care of the resources that belong to everybody.  The very success of your sport depends on healthy streams & riparian areas as well as clean water.  We need your help to keep those resources in good condition.  Please follow these simple tips to keep our fisheries in good condition.

  • Understand and follow the vehicle designations for the area you are visiting.  Many folks feel like they just have to drive their vehicle right to the water's edge to fish.  Unfortunately, this often has negative effects on streams by reducing vegetation and increasing sedimentation.  The vegetation is important because it shades the stream (keeping water temperature in the proper range for fish), helps stabilize stream banks and provides habitat for the insects that fish like to eat.  If you impact the vegetation you directly impact the quality of fishing.  The wet soils around water are usually more prone to erosion.  When that soil washes down into streams it causes sedimentation which reduces visibility for fish to find food, makes it harder for fish to breathe and covers over spawning areas.  Park your vehicle in an appropriate area away from the stream and walk a bit to keep the stream healthy.
  • Pack out all your trash - leave no trace of your visit .  No one's idea of a good day in the mountains of Colorado includes seeing a pile of trash scattered on public lands.  It is even a good idea to bring a trash bag with you in case you find trash left by other visitors.
  • Be respectful of other users .  Spread yourselves out to keep from getting in each other's way. Keep your noise levels down so others can enjoy the peace and quiet.  If you bring a dog keep it under control so it isn't harassing wildlife or bothering other visitors.
  • Minimize impacts on Wildlife . The riparian areas around streams and lakes is a very important habitat for many species of wildlife.  Most animals come there to drink, many birds nest in the lush vegetation and a lot of species feed on the vegetation, insects and other animals found there.  Try to disturb them as little as possible to avoid chasing them out of this zone that is critical to their survival.
Fishing for Kids

There are many areas in the Gunnison Country for kids to fish safely and successfully. All of the larger lakes and reservoirs offer good fishing from the shore.

The ponds at the Roaring Judy Fish Hatchery north of Almont are good producers with plenty of parking and room for the kids to play. Upper and Lower Dome Reservoirs in Cochetopa Park are also ideal spots to take children.

Let Them Fight Another Day

One of the great joys of fishing is not only catching, but releasing a nice sized trout to fight another day. If you plan on releasing your fish, here are a few hints on how to improve its chance of survival:

  • Don't play the fish to total exhaustion.
  • Keep the fish in the water as much as possible.
  • Don't use dry hands to grab the fish. The slimy coating on the fish's body serves to protect it from disease. Dry hands can wipe this coating off.
  • Remove the hook carefully. Don't yank it out of the fish's mouth.
  • If the fish has swallowed the hook, cut the line as near to the hook shank as possible.
  • Once the hook is out, hold the fish upright in the water and move it back and forth until its gills begin to work. Once its equilibrium is regained, the fish will swim away.
When More than the Fish are Biting

It is nearly impossible to find a good fishing spot without also finding mosquitoes, flies and/or ticks. After the rod, reel and license, the most important item to pack is an effective insect repellent -- it can make the difference between an enjoyable, productive fishing experience and a disaster.

Be prepared to deal with insect bites and itching. The best way is to neutralize the itch as soon as it begins. If you don't have a commercial anti-itch medication, try ammonia or a paste made of baking soda. Toothpaste will work, too.

If you fish in the brush or heavily overgrown areas, always check carefully for ticks.

Mind Your Fishing Manners

In the pamphlet, How to Catch Trout in Colorado , prepared for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, author Bill Haggerty offers these tips which will make your fishing experience better for everyone:

  • Respect the environment. Enjoy it, but don't spoil it.
  • Respect the territorial rights of fellow fishermen. Don't stomp up to or through a portion of stream being fished by another angler. Walk around quietly and don't disrupt his or her fishing.
  • Don't crowd in on a successful fisherman.
  • Be careful where you cast.
  • Don't litter. In fact, when you find litter, pick it up and pack it out.
  • If you are going to keep a trout, kill it immediately after landing it.
  • Don't fall in!
  • Limit your kill -- don't kill your limit.
Cowboys and Fishermen

The Gunnison Country is not only great for fishing, hiking, and camping, but it's also great cattle country. Ranching is an important part of the history, culture, and economy of the Gunnison Country and much of the beautiful open space and fishing streams are located on working ranches. Likewise, the public lands are shared by recreationists and cattlemen, so don't be surprised if you come face-to-face with a cattle drive or grazing cattle while driving into your  favorite fishing spot or hiking into that secret mountain lake. Remember that they have as much right as you to use the public lands and be respectful.

  • Horses and cattle are often startled when you approach silently. As you approach a horseback rider from behind, at first sighting speak loudly and make your presence known.
  • Stay on recreational trails when livestock are present in the area. Recreational use of livestock trails may interrupt grazing patterns that are designed for vegetation management.
  • Don't chase cattle or attempt to make them run.
  • Give the animals the right-of-way. It will be helpful if you can step off the trail on the downhill side. If cattle are being driven down a trail, remain quiet and still. Always watch the person handling the livestock in case further direction is needed.
  • While in your vehicle, if you encounter livestock on a road and they are traveling the same direction, make a train. When the rider motions, follow his horse closely not letting any animals slip between you and other vehicles. Follow bumper to bumper through the herd.
  • If you are going in the opposite direction, proceed slowly and quietly, weaving your way through the herd. Follow other vehicles closely, all moving as one unit.
  • Please close all gates unless a sign says to leave the gate open.

Respect private property.
It is your responsibility to know whose lands you are on!

Think Before You Drink!

Though the flowing streams and mountain lakes are crystal clear and ice cold, don't give in to the temptation to take a long cool drink. One of the hidden hazards of drinking untreated natural water is a disease called giardiasis.

Giardiasis is an intestinal disorder with symptoms including diarrhea, increased gas, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps and bloating. It may take as long as a few weeks after ingestion of the water before the symptoms appear, so many people who are home from their trip to the mountains become ill but do not realize they have giardiasis.

Think before you drink! Bring your own water. If you must depend on natural water, boil it or use a treatment system.


Colorado Division of Wildlife Fishing Information

Created by the Bureau of Land Management, Colorado
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Last modified: January 30, 2006