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Glenwood Springs, CO

Photo via Flickr

Match the hatch on mountain streams and rolling rivers in the heart of the Rockies.

Hugging the banks of the Colorado River at the confluence of the Roaring Fork, Glenwood Springs lies at the heart of a river system born in the high Rockies. This is classic, Western fly-fishing amidst a stunning mountain environment.

During its 70-mile trip from alpine headwaters to confluence with the Colorado, the Roaring Fork turns from a mountain stream into a rolling river. Wading is good in the upper stretch, while floating is popular on the lower stretch. Riffles, holes and runs hold brown, rainbow, brook and cutthroat trout. Patterns range from tiny midges to nymphs to big hoppers and streamers, depending on the season.

Branching from the Roaring Fork, within ready reach of Glenwood Springs, are the Crystal and Frying Pan rivers. The Frying Pan is a legendary tailwater stream known for its big trout and abundant insect life. Bring your fine tippet and dry-fly box, and get ready to match the hatch!

The Colorado is bigger water, long seams and deep holes that are best fished from a drift boat. Glenwood Springs is also a jump-off point for floating the Gunnison Gorge. About 140 miles to the southwest, the Gunnison flows through the spectacular, remote and deep canyon of Gunnison National Park. It's another tailwater, offering fishing year-round.

The spring run-off from May through mid-June is the only time that fishing on the freestone (non-tailwater) streams is off. Winter is cold and snowy (several ski resorts are nearby), and the fishing tends to be slower, but hatches, good nymph fishing and a lack of crowds can reward hardy anglers. Summer and early fall are the most popular seasons. October brings the turning of the aspen, coloring the mountainsides bright yellow.

When you've reeled in your line for the day, consider a hike into the surrounding mountains or a dip in the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool, one of the largest outdoor mineral pools in the world.

Basic Info
  • 47° 22° Dec-Feb
  • 63° 36° Mar-May
  • 88° 57° Jun-Aug
  • 66° 38° Sep-Nov
Roaring Fork River, Colorado River, Crystal River, Frying Pan River, Gunnison Gorge
Fishing license info here: here

The Catch

Top fish species to target in Glenwood Springs, CO

Arctic Grayling

Small, somewhat elusive, and distinct looking, Grayling can be a welcome suprise when fishing for other species, known for the large sail-like dorsal fin.

Brook Trout

Especially prevelant, sometimes over populated, in high elevation lakes and streams, these fish have one spots and multi-colored fins.

Brown Trout

Large dark spotting pattern makes this fish stand out against the other trouts. They can be tough to catch and strong. Look for fall runs.


These fish are particularly resilient and thrive in slow moving to standing water. In some cases considered a destructive invasive species.

Cutthroat Trout

These fish look similar to Rainbows but with more spotting and the distinctive red slash near the throat.

Largemouth Bass

Olive green with browish strips and blotches, Largemouths have an elongated jaw and will often go airborn when caught.

Northern Pike

Can grow quite huge and are often the fiercest fish in waters inhabited by trout and other smaller species.

Rainbow Trout

Adult fish are distinguished by a broad reddish stripe along the lateral line, from gills to the tail, which is most vivid in breeding males.

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