Have a few hours and looking to cast a line near Denver, Colorado? The state has epic mountain fishing, but you can have a great time and set hooks near the urban hub at the best fishing spots near Denver.
Colorado is the perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts of any kind. Thousands of miles of biking and hiking trails crisscross the state, 58 peaks exceed 14,000 feet in elevation, and there are countless world-class rivers, streams, lakes, and reservoirs for those looking to put a fishing line in the water.
Whether you’re a Denver local looking to try your hand at fishing for the first time or a visitor hoping to take advantage of world-class mountain lakes and streams, check out these six best trout and bass fishing spots close to the Mile High City. Grab a fly rod or spinning rig and hit the water.
Best Fishing Spots Near Denver
1. Bear Creek Lake Park
- Location: Lakewood, Colorado
- Distance from downtown Denver: 19 miles
- Drive time from downtown Denver: 35 minutes
- Fish: Trout, bass, bluegill, perch
- Highlights: Three lakes to choose from, beautiful location in the foothills, proximity to downtown
Bear Creek Lake Park is an excellent option for those looking to stay close to Denver. This park is home to Bear Creek Lake and Big and Little Soda lakes.
Of the three, Bear Creek Lake is stocked with rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, and saugeye — making it a great place to try your hand at trout and bass fishing. If you’re the competitive type, head this way in the spring for the annual Bear Creek Lake Park Trout Fishing Tournament.
2. Georgetown Lake
- Location: Georgetown, Colorado
- Distance from downtown Denver: 44 miles
- Drive time from downtown Denver: 50 minutes
- Fish: Rainbow trout, brook trout, brown trout, lake trout, tiger muskie
- Highlights: A true mountain escape, excellent views, trout fishing, year-round fishing
Georgetown Lake is the first fishing destination on our list that puts you in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Located just off of I-70 in Georgetown, Colorado, this picturesque lake provides a great escape. There is a trail that circumnavigates the entire lake, and non-motorized boats are permitted on the water.
Fishing is excellent year-round, and the views change with the season. As a bonus, Georgetown Lake also has a bighorn sheep viewing area, so keep your eyes on your line and the adjacent mountains.
3. Clear Creek
- Location: Golden, Colorado
- Distance from downtown Denver: 16 miles (to the mouth of the canyon)
- Drive time from downtown Denver: 22 minutes (to the mouth of the canyon)
- Fish: Wild brown trout
- Highlights: Easy access, proximity to Denver, beautiful canyon views, quick mountain escape
Clear Creek is the perfect destination for those looking to give fly fishing a try for easy access and proximity to Denver. The creek, which is more of a river, flows through Golden, Colorado.
The creek in Golden may not be the most desirable, but if you head west into Clear Creek Canyon and up into the mountains, you will be rewarded with a beautiful drive and plenty of places to duck off and enjoy a stretch of river. The further you head into the mountains, the more beautiful it gets, and access to the water is rarely a problem.
Photo credit: Barry Dale Gilfry
4. Waterton Canyon
- Location: Littleton, Colorado
- Distance from downtown Denver: 27 miles
- Drive time from downtown Denver: 1 hour
- Fish: Brown and rainbow trout
- Highlights: Beautiful canyon escape, excellent fly fishing stream, close to Denver yet feels like a destination
The South Platte River flows through Waterton Canyon, southwest of Denver, and provides anglers with a beautiful and exciting place to fly fish for brown and rainbow trout. There are hiking and biking trails that follow the river up canyon and open up over 6 miles of excellent trout fishing.
The fishing gets better further upstream, and the canyon views are hard to beat. Like Georgetown Lake, keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep on the cliffs above.
Photo credit: Stephen Vallis
5. Grand Lake
- Location: Grand Lake, Colorado
- Distance from downtown Denver: 102 miles
- Drive time from downtown Denver: 2 hours and 4 minutes
- Fish: Brown trout, brook trout, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, mackinaw, kokanee
- Highlights: A true mountain getaway, incredible views, great trout fishing, located at the west entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park
For those with a little more time or looking for a true mountain escape with their fishing trip, look no further than Grand Lake. Located at 8,369 feet above sea level and nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Grand Lake is a destination in and of itself.
For anglers, the trout fishing is worth writing home about, and the surrounding mountains, wildlife, hiking trails, and national parks make for a wonderful vacation for the entire family.
If you’re heading this far into the mountains, you’ll also pass countless streams, ponds, and lakes along the way. Many of those will have public access, and almost all of them will hold some trout. So don’t hesitate to explore on your own as you navigate the twisting Rocky Mountain highways.
6. Sloan’s Lake
- Location: Denver, Colorado
- Distance from downtown Denver: 4 miles
- Drive time from downtown Denver: 15 minutes
- Fish: Rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, brown trout, bluegill, northern pike
- Highlights: Variety of species, views of the Denver skyline and mountains, easily accessible
Sloan’s Lake is an urban gem and is the perfect spot for people new to the sport or waiting to acclimate before heading higher into the mountains. The neighborhood surrounding Sloan’s Lake boasts a great selection of bars and eateries, and the walking path around the lake allows anglers to find a private place to cast. Boats are historically permitted on the lake but have been blocked in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
And the lack of boats has had a potentially negative impact on fish in the lake. Normally, motorboats churn the surface of the lake all summer. But in August 2020, hundreds of fish died off during hot summer weather. So while the lake is a great place to cast a line, fish populations may take time to rebound.
Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall
Denver Area Fishing
Denver has a lot to offer both residents and visitors, not the least of which is access to some beautiful bodies of water. There are endless fishing spots to explore, from urban retreats to high mountain lakes. The Mile High City provides the perfect launch point for both fledging fishers and experienced anglers alike.