• Chris Abney
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The Pikes Peak Region boasts some of the best fishing in Colorado! Whether you’re a conventional fisherman or fly fisherman, the close proximity of pristine and bountiful waters makes the region an ideal destination for the angler. Even some of our gold medal waters of the South Platte River, boasting large and plentiful numbers of trout, are just about an hour’s drive from Colorado Springs. And there are fishing options in-town as well – whether the lakes in Colorado Springs, or streams running through to Manitou Springs, and many opportunities are just a short drive from Woodland Park.

The region is known for its beautiful trout – browns, rainbows, lake and brook trout. But we actually have a large variety of species, including kokanee salmon, pike, muskie, walleye, and more.

Before You Get Started

A fishing license is required for any angler 16 and older and Colorado’s license fees are some of the least expensive around. For current fees and licensing regulations, please see http://cpw.state.co.us/buyapply/Pages/Fishing.aspx.

Regulations regarding whether an area is catch and release only or catch and keep, with the size and quantity, will vary from location to location. Although usually posted, anglers should learn of the applicable regulations before fishing a specific area. Because private and public lands are often intermixed, anglers should also make sure that their desired location can be legally accessed by the public.

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The Leave No Trace Seven Principles for Fishing

Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Know the local fishing and boating regulations for the area where you’ll fish. Obtain licenses and stamps and have them with you.
  • Use a personal flotation device where required and/or appropriate.
  • Learn to identify the different species of fish in the area where you’ll be fishing.
  • Obey the limits on size and quantity of fish you are allowed to keep. Abide by regulations concerning types of bait and tackle permitted where you are fishing.
  • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
  • Plan your trip to avoid times of high use.

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Durable surfaces include rock, gravel, water, established trails and campsites, sand, or snow.
  • Concentrate use on existing trails, campsites, and boat launches.
  • Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
  • Avoid trampling aquatic vegetation when wading. Refrain from wading in spawning areas when possible.
  • Enter and leave water sources at places where the banks are low or where there are gravel bars.
  • In pristine areas disperse use to prevent the creation of new campsites and trails.
  • Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.

Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Pack it in, Pack it out. Inspect your camp and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all monofilament fishing line, leftover live bait, and bait cups.
  • Avoid using lead sinkers and jigs. If lead sinkers are found, pack out for proper disposal.
  • Use established bathrooms when available. If not available, deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep and 200ft away from water sources.
  • Check with local land managers for regulations on disposal of fish entrails. Pack out entrails when possible. If not possible, burial, deepwater deposition, or moving water deposition are acceptable options in most areas.
  • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.

Leave What You Find

  • When practicing “catch and release”, use barbless hooks and be sure to not injure the fish. Do not fight a fish to exhaustion, use a rod and line of sufficient strength, avoid suspending fish out of water by the fishing line. Keep fish in water when handling for release and do not touch gills.
  • Carry and use needle-nose pliers or hemostats for hook removal.
  • Take care not to introduce non-native species to water sources and surrounding areas. Pack out all un-used bait and dispose of properly (e.g. worms, minnows, leaches) and properly wash all equipment between fishing trips.
  • Avoid transferring fish from one watershed to another.
  • Preserve the past: observe, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts.

Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts. Use a lightweight stove for cooking when possible.
  • Where fires are permitted use established fire rings, mound fires, or fire pans and consider bringing your own firewood.
  • Keep fires small and use only dead and downed wood that can be broken by hand.
  • Burn all wood and charcoal to ash. Ensure that fire is completely out and properly dispose of cold ashes by scattering or packing out.

Respect Wildlife

  • Respect fish by humanely dispatching catches you are keeping with a quick blow to the back of the head with a rock or other solid object.
  • Refrigerate or eat fish quickly to avoid wasting them. Check local regulations on using stringers.
  • Use caution when cooking fish in bear country.
  • Never feed wildlife. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Control pets or leave them at home.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Non-motorized crafts usually have right-of-way over powerboats: slower boats should keep to the right.
  • If using a radio keep volume low or wear headphones, let nature’s sounds prevail.
  • Pick campsites that are away from shoreline or trails and avoid crowding other visitors.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles are reprinted with the permission of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. For more information, visit www.LNT.org.

Get Started

Whether dropping a line through the ice or casting a dry fly on a small stream, fishing is more enjoyable and successful when you have the right gear. The Pikes Peak region has a number of retailers to support your “habit.” Whether you need waders, rods and reels, tackle, ice auger, or flies, these folks have what you need. And remember to take along plenty of water , especially if you’ve recently arrived to the area, as it will help you to acclimate to the altitude.

And if you would like to take a class or have an expert take you on a guided tour, many of these professionals can help you learn the sport or just have a fantastic experience.

Where to Go

Featured Places

Parkdale is the southern terminus of Bighorn Sheep Canyon and the launch point for whitewater trips through the Royal Gorge. There is a boat launch, restrooms, and picnic area at the state parks site there and a fair bit of public water adjacent that fishes well in the spring and fall. Approaching the river from […]
Beaver Creek’s headwaters begin at the top of Pikes Peak. The creek cuts its way down to the Arkansas river with most of its water pumped into Brush Hollow Reservoir. Most of the stream travels through a rugged canyon known as Beaver Creek State Wildlife Area. The lower access to the canyon is through Penrose. The lower canyon is carved […]
Middle Fork of the South Platte River finds its headwaters above Hoosier Pass. Water is diverted from the Breckenridge area and passed through a tunnel under Hoosier Pass into Montgomery Reservoir. This augments the flow particularly in the early summer.
Spinney Reservoir is one of the best stillwater fisheries in the state. It has a Gold Water rating, and each season, anglers from all over the state line up at the entrance a half hour before sunrise to enter this gem. Rainbows measure well over 20 inches as a result of their main diet consisting […]

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