Colorado is well known for being one of the countries best trout fishing destinations, and for good reason. What many people are not aware of though is another type of fishing that Colorado excels at: ice fishing.
Ice fishing continues to grow in popularity each year in Colorado, and every year more and more anglers head to the state to try their luck in the many frozen lakes that are full of fish. Here fishermen can expect to find many trout species, such as cutthroats, rainbows, browns, and even lake trout, as well as perch, bluegill, walleye, crappie, pike, and salmon.
If you have ever thought about visiting Colorado between December to February, you will not want to miss the incredible ice fishing found here. To help you find a good spot to fish, here are our picks for the top locations for the best ice fishing in the state of Colorado!
Top Locations for Ice Fishing in Colorado
1. Chambers Lake
Chambers Lake is a relatively small body of water, sitting at only 250 acres. But while this lake is smaller compared to others here on our list, it produces some of the largest lake trout in the state. Fish between 16 and 19 inches are commonly caught here during the winter months.
While most anglers who travel to fish Chambers Lake are after big lake trout, you can also expect to find the occasional kokanee salmon, as well as healthy populations of cutthroat and rainbow trout. These trout are usually found in abundance and easily caught with multiple kinds of baits and lures.
Another added benefit about Chambers Lake is that it will usually stay frozen until March or sometimes even April, giving you plenty of time to get your ice fishing fix. If you have ever wanted to catch a big lake trout, Chambers Lake gives you the best opportunity in the state of Colorado to do it!
2. Chatfield Reservoir
Chatfield Reservoir is found on the South Platt River and is only located an hour south of Denver. This 1350 acre lake is perfect for anybody wanting to make a quick trip from the city and try their hand at ice fishing, especially since you are pretty much guaranteed to catch fish here.
This reservoir is home to a large variety of different fish, including walleye, perch, trout, crappie, pike, and bluegill. Because it is one of the most fished reservoirs in the state, the Colorado Division of Wildlife keeps fish numbers here as high as possible so it is very easy to catch fish.
In addition to catching plenty of fish, this reservoir is known for producing plenty of trout between 18 and 25 inches long, as well as walleye over 2 feet long. Chatfield Reservoir has just about everything you will need to have a great day on the ice.
3. Eleven Mile Reservoir
Eleven Mile Reservoir is a trout fisherman’s dream, and ice fishing here often results in catching some of the biggest trout in the state during the winter months. With over 3,400 acres, this large body of water has plenty of places to fish and avoid the crowds.
Rainbow trout are the main attraction at this reservoir, and many are caught that measure between 14 to 21 inches long. But while these large rainbows are the stars of the show, there are plenty of big brown and cutthroat trout to be caught as well. The occasional kokanee salmon can also be found.
Eleven Mile Reservoir can be found about an hour’s drive west of Colorado Springs, making it another great option for anglers who want to make a quick day trip to go ice fishing. Because of the beautiful scenery and great fishing, you may want to stay and camp here as well!
4. Lake Granby
This lake is one of the largest ice fishing lakes in the state of Colorado and has over 7,250 acres of ice to explore and fish. This is a great location if you love to get away from the crowds and have plenty of room to yourself.
On Lake Granby, you will find no shortage of fish, as there are large numbers of rainbow trout, lake trout, and kokanee salmon. This is why every year there is a large festival held here called the Three-Lakes Ice Fishing Contest, which draws thousands of ice fishermen from around the state to catch these large fish. The other two lakes include the nearby Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Grand Lake.
Lake Granby is found only 2 hours from Denver, and 15 minutes from the town of Granby. Except during the large festivals, this large lake is the perfect spot to avoid the crowds and have plenty of ice to yourself.
5. Twin Lakes Reservoirs
Twin Lakes is probably the most famous ice fishing destination in Colorado. In February of every year, it holds an ice fishing derby that is the largest ice fishing competition in the state of Colorado. With over 2,700 acres of ice, there is plenty of space to fish here.
These two reservoirs sit right at the base of Mt. Elbert, which is the tallest peak in the state of Colorado. They are filled to the brim with plenty of rainbow trout, lake trout, brown trout, longnose sucker, white sucker, and snake river cutthroat.
There are plenty of nearby amenities and lodging to be found around Twin Lakes, and these reservoirs are a great place to visit any time of the year. Ice fishing here is best around December and January of every year.
How Much Is a Fishing License in Colorado
Colorado is a great place to go for ice fishing, but first, you will need a fishing license. Colorado can be a little pricey compared to other states, especially for non-residents to the state, but it is well worth it!
- Annual fishing licenses will cost residents $34.75 and non-residents $96.75.
- One-day licenses will cost $13.75 for residents and $16.75 for non-residents.
- Nonresidents can also purchase a -day license for $31.75.
A short term license would probably be ideal for visitors to the state, but each person should decide which works best for their trip. For a more detailed list of all of the fishing licenses available, visit Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s website at https://cpw.state.co.us/thingstodo/Pages/FishingSeasonDatesFees.aspx.
Where to Buy a Fishing License in Colorado
Like most other states, Colorado gives anglers many options for buying a fishing license. The first and probably easiest method is to purchase one online from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department. Second, you can buy one over the phone from any department office during their office hours. The third method is buying one in person at their office or at any license vendor found in the state. Search a full list of license agents in Colorado here: https://www.cpwshop.com/issuerlist.page.
Colorado is a beautiful state with a lot to offer, and during the winter it can be one of the greatest ice fishing destinations in the world. There are plenty of different species to pursue, and more than enough high country lakes that freeze over every year to give you plenty of places to explore. Colorado should be on any ice fisherman’s list of places to visit!