Aspen is set in one of the most arrestingly beautiful settings in the American West, but if you live there or are in town on vacation, you probably already knew that. Alongside skiing, hiking, and wildlife viewing, fishing is a popular activity in and around Aspen not only because of the serene destinations you can fish in, but also because of the plentiful offerings of fish that nearby rivers, lakes, and reservoirs carry.
If you’re itching to fish in or near Aspen, try one of these recommendations. Remember to follow the local rules and regulations, as they can vary from site to site, even along the same river.
List of the lakes and rivers to fish near Aspen, CO, in no particular order:
Snowmass Lake is so pristine and beautiful that fishing there is sure to immerse you in euphoric giddiness whether you manage to catch anything or not. However, there is a catch with fishing here, and it has nothing to do with fish. Accessing this heavenly spot requires a 17-mile round-trip hike, which is obviously a tall order for most people.
But once you get there, dispersed camping is available, and the fishing is said to be spectacular according reviews of the secluded lake posted on Google. This isn’t the sort of trip most people can realistically take that often, but for those who manage to head up to this lake for a couple of nights or even a week-long stretch, it’s sure to be an experience that will stick with them for the rest of their lives.
An hour’s drive north of Aspen, Ruedi Reservoir is a 1,000-acre water storage reservoir that is home to some impressively sized Rainbow and Lake Trout. The amount of trout you’ll be able to take home is strictly regulated, however there’s another fish roaming these waters that you’re free to catch and keep as many of as you like.
At some point in the not-so-distant past, Yellow Perch were illegally introduced into the reservoir, and anglers are now encouraged to catch and remove them. You’ll find loads of amenities here, from a boat ramp to campsites and RV lots. Live bait is prohibited in certain areas at the reservoir, so make sure you’re up to date on local regulations.
Roaring Fork River
For the uninitiated, the Roaring Fork is the beautiful river that runs through the heart of Aspen. But in addition to looking awfully pretty, a section of this river is so chock full of trout that it’s earned a famed Gold Medal waters designation. The designation spans from where the Roaring Fork meets the Frying Pan River in the community of Basalt 22 miles north to the Colorado River confluence in Glenwood Springs.
Mountain Whitefish, Brown, and Rainbow Trout frequent this special section of the Roaring Fork, but strict regulations are in effect to keep the outstanding local fish population’s numbers high, so read up on them before you venture out to this amazing river.
An hour north of town, the stretch of the majestic Colorado River surrounding Glenwood Springs offers stellar fishing opportunities in iconic settings, especially in the Glenwood Canyon. While some spots of the river are unaccessible or un-fishable because of white water rapids, other long stretches of the Colorado are calm, serene, and brimming with Brown and Rainbow Trout.
Side-streams that pour into the Colorado like the No Name and Grizzly Creeks are thought to be especially solid fishing spots, so consider hitting those first when fishing on this rewarding and iconic river.
Another astoundingly beautiful spot that’s not easy to get to, Maroon Lake has to be one of the most photographed and fawned-over bodies of water in the American West. As part of the Maroon Bells Scenic Area, this serene lake is set under the craggy and majestically distinguished 14,000 peaks of Maroon Bells.
Most people access this hallowed natural site by a public bus that picks passengers up in Aspen, which can be a hassle. But once you’re there you’ll have access to fishing and camping in an unbelievably gorgeous setting.
Nearby Crater Lake is rumored to be an excellent fishing spot, but it’s a four-mile hike in. To keep this vulnerable area pristine and vibrant, it’s heavily protected, so make sure you read local fishing regulations before fishing here.
Spanning from the Roaring Fork River confluence in Carbondale down through the east of the small village of Marble, the Crystal River often takes a backseat to the more popular fishing spots in the area, which makes it a promising fishing opportunity. Along this river, which flows through some of the most scenic alpine landscapes in the state, you’ll find plenty of secluded pools and slow moving stretches of water where Trout are most likely to gather.
While there’s ample fishing opportunities to be found throughout this beautiful river, local guidance dictates that casting near the confluence of the Gold Medal waters of the Roaring Fork River will yield the most promising results.
Frying Pan River
The eccentrically named Frying Pan River spans from the Roaring Fork River confluence in Basalt down deep through the White River National Forest to Deer Mountain. The 14-mile stretch of river from the Ruedi Dam to the Roaring Fork River has earned the prestigious Gold Medal status, meaning there’s an incredible amount of trout to be caught here, so long as you adhere to local guidelines.
With the closest sections of these internationally famous waters flowing just 30 minutes north of Aspen, it’s one of the most accessible and rewarding fishing spots near town.
When CO-82 is open from June until September, accessing Twin Lakes from Aspen is a relatively quick and beautiful drive. Set below some of the tallest peaks in the lower 48, this grouping of alpine lakes is immersed in mountainous grandeur and a unique picture-book sort of serenity.
Consisting of three lakes when you add in the Mt Elbert Forebay directly to the north, this is a beloved, popular fishing spot known for its beauty and sizable fish. However, it’s big enough that you’ll easily find a corner all to yourself, or a large swath of water to access by boat.
Campgrounds surround these phenomenal lakes, and there are plenty of rooms available at cabins and lodges in the area as well. Local regulations are extremely strict when it comes to the size and number of Lake Trout you’ll be able to catch and keep here, so read up on them to make sure you’re in compliance before fishing.
Those are among the top rivers and lakes to fishing around Aspen, Colorado! If you’re looking to stay the night, consider these campgrounds near Aspen to experience nature at its finest.