In the heart of the Colorado Rockies, the quintessential ski town of Aspen, Colorado is a mecca for anglers who come to fish Aspen’s Gold Medal designated waters. Nearby rivers, include the Roaring Fork, Frying Pan, Crystal and Colorado rivers. These rivers offer year-round fishing, both wading and floating, from streams right in town to more remote areas located throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.
Gold Medal waters are designated by the Colorado Wildlife Commission as ideal spots to reel in large trout. To be considered a Gold Medal Stream, the area must produce 60 pounds of trout per acre, in which at least twelve fish must be at least fourteen inches long.
Just a few minutes outside of downtown Aspen, the Roaring Fork River provides Gold Medal designated waters. Where the Roaring Fork meets the Frying Pan River, the river runs 22 miles until it meets the Colorado in Glenwood Springs. This stretch is ranked as Gold Medal and offers fishermen and women plentiful brown and rainbow trout, accessed by wading the shores in public areas or by floating the lower part of the river. In addition, the area of river from Hallam Lake in Aspen to the Upper Woody Creek bridge between Aspen and Basalt, is designated as “Wild Trout” waters, meaning the area is managed by the Colorado Division of Wildlife to produce wild trout instead of being stocked with hatchery fish. Trout here are raised in the wild, and anglers are rewarded with a true “wild” catch.
The nearby Frying Pan River also holds Gold Medal status, offering up plentiful brown and rainbow trout, as well as some occasional cutthroat and brook trout. The designated section runs from the below the Ruedi Dam (where anglers have been known to catch very large fish) for fourteen miles, until it intersects with the Roaring Fork River. Around eight miles of this stretch is open to public access and is “catch and release” only. Strawberry Rock in Basalt is an easy access point to the river.
Often overlooked by anglers who are drawn to the Gold Medal waters, the scenic Crystal River runs for 35 miles, ending in Carbondale where it meets the Roaring Fork. Here in Carbondale, anglers will find world-class brown, rainbow and whitefish fishing. The majority of the river flows through White River National Forest, making access easily navigable for anglers. For those who worked up a sweat, nearby Penny Hotsprings offers a relaxing way to end your day.
The Colorado River, near Glenwood Springs, offers excellent drift boat fishing for rainbow and brown trout. Grizzly Creek and Rock Gardens (the No Name exit off I-70) are popular put-ins for these trips, and many take out at Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs.
Regardless of your angling skills, guiding outfits can help you make the most of out of your fishing experience in Aspen. From arranging gear and licenses to providing knowledge and access to more remote waters, outfits such as Aspen Flyfishing and Taylor Creek are at hand to ensure a big catch.