Three main tributaries They include the Middle Fork, South Fork, and Tarryall Creek. There are over 40 Public access areas.
Alma,CO., MONTGOMERY RESERVOIR TO HARTSEL,CO.
Montgomery Reservoir – Lovely views at reservoir with stocked rainbow trout provides nice shore fishing only. There is also a small stream above the reservoir contains brook trout up to 10 inches. Access on foot or 4WD vehicle (only) above the reservoir.
Alma State Wildlife Area – Two miles of public stream access along County Road 4 between Montgomery Reservoir and Alma. browns and brook trout 4-12 inches in the river and beaver ponds. This stream is small and has a lot of bushes.
Alma Fishing Easement – One mile of public stream access on the Middle Fork of the South Platte, from Mosquito Pass Road CR 12 upstream to the town of Alma. Some wild browns & rainbows trout on this small river. Some areas are private property.
Beaver Creek – Stream and beaver ponds, with small brook trout. Several miles of public water in the Pike National Forest along CR 659. Stream is on private property from Fairplay up to the NF Boundaries.
Fairplay Beach Recreation Area – Access from Fairplay or from U.S. 285 south of town. Stocked annually with rainbow trout with resident fish up to 18 inches in the reservoir and river; larger browns during late summer and fall. Other features include a paved picnic area, fishing dock and restrooms. Boats are not permitted.
Riverside Inn Hotel – Fishing pond is stocked annually with rainbow trout for hotel guests. Fairplay Beach Recreation Area is also near the Hotel (Call (719) 836-0600 or visit www.riversidefairplay.com to make a reservation.
Upper Fourmile Creek – Small stream in the Pike National Forest with browns and brookies up to 12 inches. From U.S. 285, take Fourmile Creek Road (CR 18) about five miles west to the National Forest boundary. Public fishing from here to Four Mile Campground, three miles upstream.
Fourmile Creek Ranch (Fly Fishing) – One mile of private stream containing resident browns and rainbows up to 15 inches. Limited to two fly rods (only) per day. Reservations and daily access fee are required. Visit www.southparktrout.com for more information.
Tomahawk Ranch State Wildlife Area – Over five miles of public fishing access along the Middle Fork of the South Platte, above and below the old town site of Garo on Colorado Highway 9. Water containing resident browns and rainbows up to 18 inches with spawning browns up to 36 inches
Santa Maria Ranch (Fly Fishing) – One mile of private Water at the end of County Road 439 north of Hartsel. Resident browns and rainbows up to 24 inches. Larger spawning browns during fall. Limited to three fly rods (only) per day. Reservations and daily access fee are required. Please visit www.southparktrout.com for more information.
Badger Basin State Wildlife Area – Public access to the Middle Fork along County Road 439 north of Hartsel. Water containing wild browns up to 18 inches; larger browns during fall. Separated from Tomahawk Ranch SWA by Santa Maria Ranch (see above).
SOUTH FORK AND ITS TRIBUTARIES (WESTON PASS TO HARTSEL)
Weston Pass – Several miles of public fishing access on the South Fork of the South Platte along County Road 22 above Weston Pass Campground. Abundant brookies (5-10 inches) in this small stream and beaver ponds.
Rough & Tumbling Creek – Lower section is accessed from Forest Roads 430 & 432 off Weston Pass Road for browns up to 15 inches. Upper section must hike back about a mile from Rich Creek trailhead on Weston Pass Road for small brookies.
DM Ranch - (Fly Fishing) – Three miles of private river on County Road 22 west of US Highway 285. Browns and rainbows up to five pounds in stream and beaver ponds. Some of the adjacent property owners hold fishing easements on the DM Ranch so you may be sharing the stream with other anglers who have a legal right to be there at any time. Up to 4 anglers per day may reserve this lease. However, we suggest that at least 2 anglers fish together on this vast property. Releasing 50 fish per day is not uncommon, a few of which may be 15-20 inches. Reservations and daily access fee are required. Please visit www.southparktrout.com for more information.
Knight-Imler State Wildlife Area – Slow, moving stream with fair habitat. Seasonally good fishing for wild browns up to 15 Inches. Larger browns during fall.
Antero and 63 Ranch State Wildlife Areas – Seasonally good fishing for wild browns up to 15 inches on the South Fork above Antero Reservoir. Large browns migrate upstream from the reservoir during the fall.
Antero Reservoir – One of the most productive reservoirs in Colorado for large rainbows, browns . Fishing is allowed from shore and small boats. According to Colorado Parks & Wildlife, trout gain 1-2 pounds every year in this shallow lake.
Antero State Wildlife Area below Antero Reservoir – Poor stream habitat improves with distance below Antero dam. Summer water temperatures and fishing quality are controlled by releases from the reservoir and are quite variable.
Lower Fourmile Creek – Part of Badger Basin State Wildlife Area, lower Fourmile Creek offers small stream fishing for brown trout in the meadow near Highway 9, northwest of Hartsel. A few larger browns migrate here to spawn in the fall.
Badger Basin State Wildlife Area – Parking area is provided near the intersection of Highways 9 and 24 west of Hartsel. This section of the South Fork is a slow, moving river with a few deep pockets that hold fish. Seasonally good for browns and rainbows up to 15 inches.
MAIN STEM OF THE SOUTH PLATTE RIVER BELOW HARTSEL
Upper Spinney Mountain Ranch State Wildlife Area – Several access points to Water along County Road 59 between Hartsel and Spinney Mountain Reservoir. Very good fishing with resident brown trout up to 18 inches. Larger cutthroats and browns migrate upstream from the reservoir to spawn.
Spinney Mountain Reservoir – Seasonally excellent fishing with flies and lures (only) for large trout and pike. Fishing is allowed from shore and small boats. Special regulations apply in this Gold Medal Water. A State Parks pass or daily fee is required. The Chaparral Park General Store offers guided fishing, lodging, RV camping, boat rentals, and equipment near the reservoir entrance. Call (719) 748-0308 or visit www.chaparralparkgeneralstore.com for more information.
Charlie Meyers State Wildlife Area – Middle Fork below Spinney Mountain Reservoir consistently produces large browns, rainbows and cutbows. This is catch-and-release Gold Medal Water and all fish must be released immediately. Excellent river fishing between Spinney and Eleven Mile Reservoirs.
Eleven Mile Reservoir – This Colorado State Park offers great shore and boat fishing for trout and pike, Ice fishing is very popular during winter. Snagging kokanee salmon is allowed during fall.
Elevenmile Canyon – Several miles of public fishing access along County Road 96 between Lake George and Eleven Mile Reservoir. Wild browns and rainbows up to 30 inches. The upper two miles are catch-and-release only. Daily vehicle access fee is required at entrance station near Lake George.
Happy Meadows Campground – US Forest Service Campground on County Road 77, three miles north of Lake George. Fishing is fair to good for wild browns and stocked rainbows in the South Platte River. (if you wish to learn more about Happy Meadows Campgrounds, look at the campgrounds shown on menu above)
TARRYALL CREEK AND ITS TRIBUTARIES (BOREAS PASS TO THE SOUTH PLATTE RIVER)
North Tarryall Creek – Very scenic area below Boreas Pass Road. Small stream and beaver ponds with abundant brookies above Selkirk Campground. From Como take County Road 33 to Forest Road 801.
Jefferson Lake – Beautiful mountain lake is stocked with rainbows and lake trout (mackinaw) also. Fishing is best from a small boat but shore fishing is also popular. Jefferson Lake is thought to be one of the deepest in Colorado.
Jefferson and West Jefferson Creeks – Small streams and beaver ponds contain small brookies along County Road 37 northwest of Jefferson. Hike-in fishing option along West Jefferson Creek (Trail #643) from Jefferson Creek Campground, (if you wish to learn more about Jefferson Creek Campgrounds, look at the campgrounds shown on menu above)
Michigan Creek – Limited public fishing access at Michigan Creek Campground on County Road 54 northwest of Jefferson. Browns and brookies up to 12 inches.
Teter-Michigan Creek State Wildlife Area – Creek along County Road 35 west of Jefferson. Slow moving stream with deep pools and beaver ponds harbor browns up to 16 inches. Two miles of public water receives relatively little use.
Cline Ranch State Wildlife Area – About 2.5 miles of free public fishing access on Tarryall Creek. Wild brown trout up to 16 inches in slow moving stream and beaver ponds.
Tarryall Creek Ranch (Fly Fishing) – Three miles of private river on two different properties near Como. Wild brown trout up to 18 inches in stream and beaver ponds. Limited to six fly rods (only) per day. Reservations and daily access fee are required. Please visit www.southparktrout.com for more information. One day, the fishing can feel as though it couldn’t get any easier, while the next anglers may feel as though they are engaged in a spring-creek-style challenge.
Tarryall State Wildlife Area – About one mile of public fishing access above Tarryall Reservoir along County Road 77. Seasonally fair fishing for resident browns and stocked rainbows.
Tarryall Reservoir – Managed by Colorado Parks & Wildlife, this small reservoir is seasonally productive for rainbows, browns and pike. Free camping and picnicking facilities are provided around the lake. Ice fishing is popular in winter.
Reservoir Spillway – About 300 yards of public fishing access below the spillway of Tarryall Reservoir offers good fishing for resident browns and stocked rainbows up to 15 inches.
Tarryall L&C Ranch ( Fly Fishing) – One mile of private stream containing large browns and rainbows in numerous pools and pockets. Limited to four fly rods (only) per day. Reservations and daily access fees are required. Please visit www.southparktrout.com for more information. This section of Tarryall Creek is very diverse in terms of habitat. The lower half-mile (meadow) is comprised of slow meanders. The middle reach contains numerous beaver ponds and wetlands full of willows and fallen trees. The upper end of the property is known as the canyon section. Here Tarryall Creek is confined in a narrow rock channel where plunging water has carved a series of deep pools, interspersed with cascading riffles. Much of the property harbors wild browns in the 2-5 pound range. Wary rainbows that were stocked several years ago have also grown to a respectable size. Frequent break-offs should be expected due to in-stream snags and large fish.
Ute Creek Trailhead – Public fishing for a short distance up and down stream of the footbridge. This section of Tarryall Creek contains wild browns and stocked rainbows up to 15 inches but public access is very limited
Allen Creek Ranch (Fly Fishing) – Over one mile of private stream containing resident browns and rainbows up to 24 inches. Limited to three fly rods (only) per day. Reservations and daily access fees are required. Please visit www.southparktrout.comfor more information. Allen Creek Ranch is a scenic property with complex habitat structure and a large population of wild browns in the 8-14 inch range. This one-mile section of Tarryall Creek has a steeper gradient than most properties in the valley, with boulder-strewn riffles and runs, interspersed with deep pools. Every pool, pocket and run should be worked thoroughly, as browns and rainbows often hold in unlikely places. A large and diverse population of aquatic insects means that these fish are well-fed and selective feeders. Dozens of 18-24 inch trout occupy the deep pools and undercut banks but you may need to use weighted nymphs and streamers to get their attention.
Historic Williams Ranch (Fly Fishing) – Two miles of private stream containing resident browns and rainbows up to 24 inches. Limited to four fly rods (only) per day. Reservations and daily access fees are required. Please visit www.southparktrout.comfor more information. Historic Williams Ranch offers diverse aquatic habitat that supports resident browns and rainbows in the 10-24 inch range. Angler reports are highly variable on this property. While some anglers report seeing few fish the entire day, others release 40 larger trout in just a few hours. Still others report "herding" nice trout around in the shallows. By all indications this is NOT a property where anglers can expect to do well by merely walking the willow-lined banks and fishing the pools. This may be our most challenging lease to figure out but it harbors many 18-24 inch trout, along with large pike. On warm summer days, the larger fish tend to hunker down in deep water where they are harder to locate and catch. As a rule of thumb, anglers catch the largest trout using weighted nymphs and streamers unless they are surface feeding on terrestrials.
Twin Eagles Trailhead – Limited fishing access at Twin Eagles Trailhead along County Road 77. Resident browns and stocked rainbows up to 14 inches.
Spruce Grove Campground – About one-half mile of public fishing access at Spruce Grove Campground along County Road 77. Resident browns and stocked rainbows up to 14 inches. Daily parking fee is required. (if you wish to learn more about Spruce Grove Campgrounds, look at the campgrounds shown on menu above)
Puma Hills River Ranch – Private guest ranch on County Road 77 near Lake George offers 1.5 miles of private river fishing on Tarryall Creek for overnight guests only. Stream contains wild browns and stocked rainbows. Call (719) 748-8278
North Fork South Platte River
Anglers can expect to find plenty of trout along the river, which is located just one hour from metro Denver and accessible from US 285. The North Fork is great for those who love variety, offering shallow pockets of water in some spots and deep rapid runs in others.
Most of the water along the river is controlled by private operators, including the excellent three-mile stretch of water run by Boxwood Gulch and Long Meadow between Bailey and Grant. But some public waters can be found in Pine Valley Open Space, just south of Pine Junction, and in small portions on the way to Deckers.
Evergreen Lake- is a great get away destination for the shore fisherman. The lake is continually stocked with tiger muskie and rainbows throughout the summer. Evergreen Lake is a small but productive lake in the foothills outside of Denver. Fishing is allowed from sunrise to sunset with both live bait and artificial lures. Evergreen Lake has boat rentals available at the "Lakehouse". This facility is open to the public. Directions: From Denver, take I-70 west to the Evergreen Parkway exit. Head south on Evergreen Parkway to Upper Bear Creek Road.
Colorado Fish Species Identification
These fish were introduced in the 1880s and have become both the angler’s favorite and the mainstay of Colorado’s hatchery system (millions of catchable and subcatchable sized fish are stocked annually). Rainbows can be found in most mountain lakes and streams, as well as many plains reservoirs. Physical characteristics that can help distinguish rainbow trout include dark spots on a light body, continuous spotting throughout the body, and often a “rainbow” horizontal reddish stripe. Rainbow trout may be caught with a variety of flies, baits, and lures.
Cutthroat (native) Trout
Several subspecies of cutthroat trout are found in Colorado, of which three are native – the greenback, the Rio Grande and the Colorado. The range of these fish has decreased due to a variety of habitat factors, and extensive recovery efforts are underway by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Cutthroat trout can be distinguished from rainbows by heavier spotting toward the tail and the presence of a red slash on their “throat.” Anglers may find these trout in high lakes and streams.
The brown trout was first brought into this state in the 1890s and is now abundant from high mountain streams to broad rivers flowing onto the plains. These fish can be difficult to catch, but many anglers have good success during their fall spawning runs. A large dark spotting pattern and reddish dots can help anglers distinguish these fish from rainbows and cutthroats.
An entry to Colorado in the late 1800s, the brook trout feeds on aquatic and terrestrial insects and will rise to a large range of small lures, baits and flies. Brook trout have white spots (worm-shaped on top) on a dark background with tri-colored outlined fins (orange, black and white). This prolific fish often becomes overpopulated and can out-compete other trout. They are typically
in higher elevation lakes, beaver dams and streams.
Lake trout, also known as Mackinaw, are the largest trout in North America. Mackinaws have white spots on a dark background with a deep fork in their tail. As the name suggests, these fish are found in mountain lakes and are usually in deeper water. Anglers also enjoy success with this species during the fall and spring in shallower areas and when ice-fishing.
Kokanee (land-locked Pacific sockeye salmon) are suited to the large, fluctuating mountain reservoirs of Colorado. These silver fish with black spots on the upper half of their bodies can be found swimming in compact schools feeding on zooplankton, a food source unaffected by the drawing down of reservoirs. They turn reddish in color and males develop a “hook jaw” during the fall spawning season. Trolling with cowbells at medium depths provides angling success. Special snagging seasons are offered on some areas during spawning runs, and provide much of the catch for these delicious salmon. Kokanee die after spawning.