Eleven Mile and Spinney Reservoirs
Eleven Mile and Spinney Reservoirs are two of the top trout fishing locations in the state of Colorado! Eleven Mile is home to rainbow trout, Snake River cutthroat trout, cutbows ( a cross between rainbow and cutthroat), brown trout, northern pike, yellow perch, kokanee salmon, and carp. Eleven Mile usually opens to boating around the end of April and closes around the 1st of November. This body of water has a lot of weed beds and in these weed beds live the scuds (freshwater shrimp) that these fish feed on and as a result grow to trophy proportions so quickly! The average trout in 11 mile is around 17″, but there is a healthy population of 18-24″ fish and several that are in the 30″+ range! The best time to troll for trout is May through June and September through October. We also have success casting for trout during these same time periods. The Northern Pike in 11 Mile also grow quickly due to all the options they have to eat and will run anywhere from 20-45″+! Best fishing times for pike are May through June and Late August through October. The yellow perch are slowly gaining in number and are mostly caught through the ice. Eleven Mile used to be a first class kokanee salmon fishery, but was devastated by gill lice several years ago and the numbers have drastically dropped since. We spend a lot of time on the ice at 11 Mile and typically see very good trout fishing in December and Mid February through mid March. Trophy pike through the ice can be targeted December through March. Anglers are allowed to keep 4 trout, of which no more than 2 can be over 16″. There is no bag and possession limit on northern pike, but we allow each of our clients to keep 2 fish under 24″.
Spinney is closed to ice fishing, but provides several different opportunities throughout the open water season for rainbow trout, Snake River Cutthroat trout, cutbows, brown trout, yellow perch, and Northern Pike. The average trout in Spinney Mountain Reservoir last season was around 20″! There are plenty of fish in the 21-24″ range and a few bigger as well. Weather pending, Spinney Reservoir usually opens around the third weekend in April and usually closes on or around October 31st. We offer trolling trips from opening day through May and then again in September through the closing date. June through August we offer still water fly fishing trips that can be action packed during the dog days of summer! Lastly, we offer casting trips for trout the entire time the lake is open to boating. Trophy Northern Pike from 30-45″+ are ever-present in Spinney as well and provide great opportunites May through early June and again in late August through October! The bag and possession limit for trout on Spinney is 1 fish, 20″ or longer. Like Eleven Mile, There is no bag and possession limit on northern pike, but we allow each of our clients to keep 2 fish under 24″.
Both of these reservoirs are Colorado State Parks and do require a daily or annual park pass to enter the premises. Eleven Mile is about an hour and 10 minutes from Colorado Springs and 2 hours and 13 minutes from Denver. Spinney Mountain Reservoir is about 15 minutes west of 11 Mile reservoir. The Colorado Springs and Denver Airtports are the best fly-in options to get within driving distance of these lakes.
Blue Mesa Reservoir
Blue Mesa reservoir, in Currecanti National Park, is the largest body of water in the state of Colorado and home to rainbow trout, brown trout, kokanee salmon, lake trout, and yellow perch! Blue Mesa is over 20 miles long, has 96 miles of shoreline, and is over 340 feet deep in spots when full! It is a truly unique reservoir with many different fishing opportunities surrounded by incredible landscapes. Blue Mesa is also home to several state records including a snagged 7 lbs 5 oz kokanee salmon, 50 lbs 3 oz lake trout, and a 46″ catch and release record by our very own Robby Richardson!
Historically, Blue Mesa has been one of the most productive kokanee salmon operations in the Western United States, but over the last decade, the kokanee population has fluctuated up and down depending on the water levels, predator levels, and several other factors including the illegal introduction of yellow perch in the late 1990’s and the recent discovery of a small infection of gill lice. Over 3 million salmon are stocked annually and it is still the top kokanee salmon fishery in the state for both quality and quantity with our biggest kokanee stretching the tape at 23 inches in 2015! We offer trips for kokanee salmon during best times of the year which include trolling for them mid-May through late July, vertically jigging for them late July through early September, snagging them the first two weeks in November, and ice fishing for them Jauary through mid March! Each pattern/teqhnique is unique and a fun and different way to catch these fish! And as far as table-fair, SFC would put these salmon up against any ocean-run salmon as the best tasting salmon in existence! We allow each client to keep their limit of 5 kokanee salmon on our trips. Be sure to ask us about some of our favorite recipies. **Our vertical jigging trips do require a $40 fuel/oil surcharge.
Lake trout or “Mackinaw” of all sizes inhabit Blue Mesa and over the last 5 years, the Colorado Parks & Wildlife has been netting and killing the smaller lake trout in an effort to maintain the predator to prey relationship between the lake trout and the kokanee salmon. They have removed well over 6,000 fish and feel that it is important to continue their efforts to help the salmon population continue to get back to prior levels. There is currently no limit on lake trout under 32″, but we don’t necessarily with the potential glutony that could promote and allow our clients to keep 4 lake trout under 24″ each. Our trips are focused on quantity or quality (sometimes we offer a combo trip) and we release all fish over 24″ after a quick measurement, weight, and photo! The best time to catch a bunch of sub 24″ fish is from ice out (mid April) through the month of July. We also do well through the ice from January through mid to late March. We primarly vertically jig for these fish, but will troll for them at times as well. The trophy lake trout are a lot smarter and while we are typically focused on getting 1-2 bites a day, those bites could very well be from fish in the 15-30 lbs+ range! We have had days where we catch 6-8 big fish in a day, but this is not the norm. The best time to catch a trophy lake trout is from ice out (mid April) through the month of May. We prefer to vertically jig, but will use other methods when the ice first comes off and the fish are spread out. We also see some quality lake trout come out through the ice from late January through mid March! ** Our trophy lake trout trips out of the boat are priced differently.
Yellow Perch were illegally introduced in the late 1990’s, but never really exploded until the last few years. These fish provide great action and are arguably some of the best table-fare Colorado offers for warm water speceies! It is not uncommon to see 100+ fish days with fish rainging from 4-12″ and the occasional fish over 12″. We target perch through most of the year, but really see the bigger schools show up June through October. Ice action is good from December through mid March. We allow our clients to keep as many perch as they want, but cap our cleaning services at 5 perch per person.
Rainbow trout and brown trout are healthy in number and size in Blue Mesa Reservoir! The average trout is around 14-16″, but 18-22″+ rainbow and brown trout show up fairly consistently! At time, good numbers of trout will be mixed in with the kokanee salmon as we troll for them, but our favorite way to catch these fish is by casting lures at the shoreline, which can be very similar to bass fishing at times! Fishing for rainbows and browns is truly good all year long, but the absolute best times to cast for them is from mid April through early June and then again in the fall from October through November. Trout fishing through the ice makes for an action-packed trip and is good from December through mid March! We allow our clients to keep a daily bag limit of 4 fish (either species in combination).
Blue Mesa is located in southwestern Colorado about 15 minutes west of Gunnison. Gunnison is approximately 3 hours and 42 mins from Denver, 3 hours and 18 mins from Colorado Springs, and 2 hours and 28 minutes from Grand Junction. Gunnison does have a regional airport, but it is typically cheaper to fly into Denver, Colorado Springs, or Montrose, or Grand Junction and then drive. Despite being a bit of a drive from Colorado’s front range, this lake will not disappoint! There is a plethora of lodging options in Gunnison and a few different cabin options around the lake that are available during the Spring and Summer only.
Lake Pueblo is a very popular warm-water fishery that hosts a variety of species including smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, spotted bass, walleye, crappie, bluegill, wiper, channel catfish, flathead catfish, blue catfish, rainbow trout, common carp, gizzard shad, and white suckers! The walleye population is on an upswing and fishing has been getting better every year with more walleye and bigger walleye. March kicks off the walleye fishing and is typically one of the best months for trophy walleye along with April. During these spring months we are often casting and trolling for just a few bites per trip but these bites can result in some of the biggest walleye of the year. The peak of the walleye season is usually May thru mid-July with trips averaging 20 to 40 walleye boated per trip along with a mix of smallmouth, largemouth bass, and the occasional wiper, carp, crappie, trout, or catfish. May can also offer some great crappie fishing depending on the year. August is usually a slower month on lake pueblo due to the shad blossom and high water temps. As the water temperatures cool off in September and October, we typically see some great walleye action using a variety of techniques from finesse live bait rigs to casting and trolling crankbaits. November can be cold, but provides some good walleye action casting and trolling as well! Most of our trips on Pueblo are focused on walleye, but we do offer trips for other species when the bite is good! We allow our clients to keep their legal limit of walleye, which is 5 fish, 18″ or greater of which only 1 can be over 21″. We release all walleye over 24″.
Pueblo Reservoir is a Colorado State Park and does require a $7 daily pass for all vehicles. It is located about 15-20 minutes west of Pueblo, 50 minutes east of Canon City, 55 minutes south of Colorado Springs, and about 2 hours south of Denver. The Denver and Colorado Springs airports are the best fly-in options.
Antero Reservoir (CURRENTLY DRAINED & CLOSED) is home to rainbow trout, brown trout, snake river cutthroat, green back cutthroat, cutbows, kokanee salmon, brook trout, and splake! All of these fish grow to trophy size in little time due to the incredible fertility of this lake and the plethora of scuds (freshwater shrimp). Trout in this lake usually average around 15″ long with healthy of population of 18″+ fish! Since Antero is fairly shallow, weed growth can make trolling tough or at least interesting during mid summer, but trophy fish are always there for the taking if you modify your Antero fishing approach! We spend a lot of time on this lake during the winter and use the weed beds to our advantage as the fish will use these beds as high traffic ambush points. This lake is fairly shallow and has experienced a lot of ups and downs over the last decade, but grows trophy fish at an incredible rate none the less! Although Antero is currently closed so that a leak in the dam can be fixed, it is supposed to open in 2017. Traditionally, the limit is 2 fish per person on this body of water.
Antero reservoir is located about 2 hours and 9 minutes from Denver, 1 hour and 32 minutes from Colorado Springs, and only about 38 minutes west of Eleven Mile reservoir. From out of state, it is best to fly into Denver or Colorado Springs and then drive to the reservoir. The closest lodging options are in Fairplay, Colorado.
Morrow Point Reservoir
Morrow Point Reservoir is one of the most unique fishing opportunities in the state! The entirety of this lake is difficult to access by foot, but taking a boat on this reservoir can open the door to some of the best scenery and fishing in Colorado! Kokanee Salmon, Lake Trout, Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, and the occasional Cutthroat makes up the species selection in Morrow Point and since this lake is tough to access, there are true trophies of each species lurking throughout the lake.
Sport Fish Colorado is permitted to guide on Morrow Point by foot or on vessels that can be hiked in and out of Morrow Point, but the only company who can keep a boat down there is whoever has the concessionaire contract with the National Park Service. This allows that company to crane up to two 20’ pontoon boats into Morrow Point every spring and keep them at the National Park Service’s dock throughout the summer until the boats are craned out in the fall.
Robby Richardson used to guide on these 20’ pontoon boats in Morrow Point several years ago and gained a lot of experience in Morrow Point during that time. You can book a rugged Morrow Point trip on a Zodiac raft through Sport Fish Colorado or you can book a comfortable guided fishing trip on a pontoon boat or even an overnight camping trip by calling Elk Creek Marina (970-641-0707)!