Best 17 Colorado Fishing Lakes

Best 17 Colorado Fishing Lakes

This article will list the best 17 Colorado fishing lakes. Colorado is well known for it’s trout streams. However, the larger lakes and reservoirs offer outstanding fishing for a variety of both warm and cold water species. The location, species, and tips will be included where possible.

best 17 Colorado fishing lakes

The best 17 Colorado fishing lakes are;

  • Spinney Mountain Reservoir

  • Delaney Butte Lakes

  • Blue Mesa Lake

  • Lake Pueblo

  • McPhee Reservoir

  • John Martin Reservoir

  • Cherry Creek Lake

  • Chatfield Lake

  • Horsetooth Reservoir

  • Boyd Lake 

  • Carter Lake

  • Eleven Mile Reservoir

  • Taylor Park Reservoir

  • Twin Lakes

  • Stagecoach Reservoir

  • Lake Granby

  • Horseshoe Reservoir

By no means is this list complete as far as quality fishing lakes in Colorado is concerned, I simply can’t list them all. However, these lakes cover most of the state and will give anglers a good selection of lakes to fish for a variety of species.

Warm water and cold water Colorado fishing lakes

Colorado fishing lakes

Colorado offers anglers a wide variety of fishing opportunities when it comes to lakes. Cold water species are found in the cool, clear, higher elevation lakes. These include trout, pike, salmon, walleye, and more. These get a lot of attention, but the warm water lakes offer excellent fishing for bass, crappie, and panfish.

Anglers can read more about the top Colorado game fish species in this article

The top Colorado fishing lakes earn the “Gold Medal” rating. This means that they have a lot of fish per acre as well as a good supply of decent sized trout, 14” or larger. It Applies to trout species only and for the most part is designated to streams.

Spinney Mountain Reservoir


Spinney Mountain is one of the top, if not the best, trout fishing lake in Colorado. It leads the list of the best 17 Colorado fishing lakes. It has 2500 surface acres and offers anglers excellent access from shore as well as from boats. Ice fishing is not allowed, so fish get a break from fishing pressure. Opening day is highly anticipated! Pike were a problem and anglers are encouraged to remove any that are caught.

Click this link for more information on Colorado fishing!

Delaney Butte Lakes

The three Butte Lakes are named North, South, and East, which keeps it simple. They all produce both good numbers along with quality trout. They are all close together, making it easy to switch lakes as conditions dictate. Rainbow, brown, brook, and cutthroat trout are available. North Delaney Butte Lake is a Gold Medal fishery. Anglers can fish from shore or boats, but is is wake-less boating only. The scenery and fishing are outstanding! Live bait is not allowed, lures and flies only. East Delaney has good brook trout fishing as well.

Blue Mesa Lake

Blue Mesa is Colorado’s largest lake at 9,000 surface acres. It lies a few miles west of Gunnison. It has good fishing for brown and rainbow trout, but is considered a top lake trout lake in the state, giving up the record 50 pound lake trout! Trolling works well in this very deep, huge reservoir.

Lake Pueblo

Lake Pueblo is a large body of water at 5000 surface acres and 60 miles of shoreline. It remains open all year as it does not freeze. Most warm water species of game fish are found in the lake, including smallmouth and largemouth bass, walleye, crappies, trout, channel catfish and wipers. The Colorado record wiper was caught at Lake Pueblo. The tailwater below the dam offers excellent trout fishing. Ponds on the property give good access to anglers without a boat.

McPhee Reservoir

McPhee Reservoir is a large body of water at 4500 surface acres. There is not much access for anglers to fish from shore, a boat is recommended. The primary draw is smallmouth bass, the lake has an excellent population and is one of the top fisheries in Colorado for smallies. The largemouth bass population is good, too. Rainbow trout are available as well.

John Martin Reservoir

John Martin Reservoir is an excellent warm water fishery and is sixth on the list of best 17 Colorado fishing lakes. The lake level fluctuates drastically. It is the top striped bass lake and offers excellent fishing for bass, crappie, wipers, bluegill, walleye, and catfish. It is one of the most popular lakes in the state. Crappie fishing is very good in spring, summer is best for the other species. Lake Hasty, down river, offers good fishing for trout and other species.

Cherry Creek Lake

Cherry Creek Reservoir is definitely an urban fishing spot, located on the southeast side of Denver. It is heavily stocked to support the angling pressure. It is not a large lake, at 850 acres. Bass, walleye, and trout are the top species, with some limits to ensure good fishing. Serious anglers avoid the crowds by fishing on weekdays and off season, this lake gets a lot of recreational boat traffic on summer weekends.

Chatfield Lake

Chatfield Reservoir is a 1350 acre reservoir that is best known as a trophy walleye fishery, due to stringent management. However, they are not easy to catch. It also gets a lot of fishing and recreational boat traffic, due to it’s location convenient to Denver. Rainbow trout fishing is good all year and smallmouth bass please anglers in late spring and summer.

Horsetooth Reservoir

Horsetooth Reservoir is a 1900 acre lake just west of Fort Collins that has a good population of warm water species along with a few trout. Smallmouth bass arguable the top species, as the many coves and rocky points offer excellent smallmouth habitat. Walleye fishing is good as well. Splake, white bass, crappie, panfish, and perch are also present in decent numbers. It is an excellent lake for anglers without a boat as it offers very good shoreline access and fishing.

Boyd Lake

Boyd Lake is a 1700 acre body of water located within the state park, just west of Loveland. It offers excellent fishing for walleye, trout, white bass and catfish. White bass are often seen schooling on the surface. Anglers may also encounter a few smallmouth bass, crappie, and panfish. Boyd Lake does get a lot of use from families and other non-fishing users, so anglers should avoid weekends and holidays.

Carter Lake

Carter Lake is an 1100 acre lake best known for it’s trophy walleye fishery. Strict catch and release regulations result in the opportunity for anglers to catch one of the largest walleye in the state. Rainbow trout fishing is excellent as well. Slow trolling a nighcrawler on a harness will fool both species. Lake trout, splake, and bass are occasional catches as well.

Eleven Mile Reservoir

Eleven Mile Reservoir is a 3400 acre lake located in South Park. It is well known as a trophy fishery, giving up a good number of master angler fish. It has rainbow, brown, cutthroat, and cutbow trout. Kokanee salmon are also available as are northern pike. Eleven Mile is definitely one of the top destinations for cold water species and is next on the list of best 17 Colorado fishing lakes.

Taylor Park Reservoir

Taylor Park Reservoir is a fairly large lake at 2,000 acres near Gunnison. Due to it’s size, trolling for larger than average rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout is a productive technique. Mackinaw grow large, with fish over 20 pounds being taken. Shore bound anglers do well in the spring as fish move shallow. Lake trout grow large and are often overlooked due to the number of rainbow trout. Kokanee, and northern pike are also available.

Twin Lakes

Twin Lakes Reservoirs combine for 2700 acres of surface area. They are next on the list of best 17 Colorado fishing lakes. While offering anglers excellent fishing for brown, rainbow, and cutthroat trout, it is earning a reputation for yielding trophy lake trout. Trolling and vertically jigging will produce all species. It does hold the state record cutthroat trout. The lakes offer anglers some of the best amenities and scenery in the state.

Stagecoach Reservoir

Stagecoach reservoir is n 800 acre lake located 20 miles from Steamboat Springs. It is noted for having excellent trout fishing along with some of the best northern pike fishing in the state and holds the current record at over 30 pounds. Musky are also fairly plentiful. Walleye fishing picks up in late spring. Anglers fishing the tailwater below the dam do very well on nice sized rainbow trout.

Lake Granby

Lake Granby is another large lake in Colorado, with 7000 surface acres at full pool. It is known as the top destination for Colorado anglers seeking lake trout. Anglers can find both numbers and quality fish there. They are actually affecting the Kokanee population. Trolling and vertical jigging work best. Rainbow, brown, and cutbow trout are present in good numbers as well.

Horseshoe Reservoir

Last, but certainly not least, on the list of the best 17 Colorado fishing lakes in Horseshoe Reservoir. It is smaller than many other lakes on this list, with 160 surface acres. It offers very good fishing for warm water species including bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish, and sauger. It also has a good population of rainbow trout, due to aggressive stocking. Musky are in the lake, but challenging to catch. The lake is in Lathrop State Park.

In conclusion, this article on the best 17 Colorado fishing lakes will help anglers get started in this beautiful state!




Jim Klopfer

Capt Jim Klopfer has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. He grew up in Maryland, fishing the Chesapeake Bay waters. Capt Jim has been creating an writing articles about fishing for decades, contributing to many regional and national publications. He also lives part time in the North Carolina mountains where he fishes for trout and other species. Capt Jim Klopfer is a wel rounded angler with 50 years fishing experience, and he loves to share what he has learned with other anglers!

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