Fishing in Rocky Mountain National Park

With four main species of fish, more than 40 fishable lakes, and 25 alpine streams, casting a line is almost sacrilegious.
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With four main species of fish, more than 40 fishable lakes, and 25 alpine streams, casting a line is almost sacrilegious.
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Photo by C. Sagan

Fishing in Rocky Mountain National Park requires discipline: Crystal-clear lakes complete for your attention as jagged peaks rip into the sky casting dramatic shadows across open tundra and blowing your cover if you're not careful. Maybe it's that level of concentration-the kind that includes nature and skill-that draws anglers from all over the world to Rocky Mountain. With four main species of fish, more than 40 fishable lakes, and 25 alpine streams, casting a line is almost sacrilegious.

Alpine Lake Fishing

Rocky Mountain National Park is known for it's pristine backcountry lakes. Anglers looking to cast a line must consider things like how far the hike in will be, and if spending the night is a requirement. Access isn't always easy, which means fewer crowds, but there are a few stellar options close to trailheads. Some of our favorite include: Sandbeach, Ouzel, Sky Pond, Mills and Fern. Each lake is located less than 6 miles from the trailhead, so plan on hitting the trail early if you want to catch the sunrise.

If you're looking for a deeper backcountry experience consider Pear Lake, Lawn Lake, and Sandbeech Lake located just under Mt. Meeker. Backcountry campsites typically can be found adjacent to these lakes, with access to several other bodies of water. A backcountry camping permit is required if you plan on spending the night, and remember most lakes don't typically deice until mid to late June depending on the elevation.

Rocky Mountain Creek Fishing

High or low, strenuous or easy, fishing an alpine stream can be a treat for the aggressive and beginner angler. Inside the Park, anglers typically flock to lower elevation sections of the Park's streams. The Colorado River, Big Thompson, St. Vrain and Cache la Poudre all offer ample fishing opportunities in a variety of wilderness settings. However, if you wish to tackle a more remote stream, head high-above 10,000 feet-and try your hand at Fern Creek, North Fork of the Big Thompson, Timber Creek and Ouzel Creek. If you chose Ouzel Creek plan on fishing above Ouzel Falls where the valley opens up flanked on both sides by towering peaks.

Rocky Mountain Fishing Outfitters

Several outfitters can be found outside the Park in Grand Lake and Estes Park and typically provide guided trips with pack animals to higher elevation streams and rivers. If you're looking for a great experience that enables you to cut down on the demands of hiking multiple miles this is a great option.

Fishing Rules and Regulations

Fisherman must have a valid license, catch-and-release is in effect for designated areas, and if you are over the age of 12 it is illegal to fish with bait.*

*(Note: This may change so always make sure to check in with rangers before fishing.)

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