The Best Small Streams for Fishing Trout in the Denver, Colorado Area

The Best Small Streams for Fishing Trout in the Denver, Colorado Area
Denver is a great launching point for fishing adventures close to the Rocky Mountains. Anglers flock to high-country lakes and blue-ribbon trout rivers, but the smaller creeks often go overlooked. These little gems offer rainbows, browns and cutthroat trout ranging from 8 to 18 inches. Bear, St. Vrain and Clear creeks offer easy public access and willing trout, and all three of these highly recommended fisheries are within an hour's drive of Denver.

Bear Creek in and Around Morrison

Bear Creek is a small tailwater that offers hungry trout just 17 miles from downtown Denver. This quiet little trout producer sees the best action from about March until November, depending on releases from Evergreen Lake. The fish in Bear Creek see more hikers than fisherman, and though they are not big, Bear Creek is a nice option because of the trouts' willingness to take artificial flies, especially dry flies. They'll hit attractors or better yet, a dry and a dropper rig to catch fish on the surface and less aggressive fish on the bottom with a nymph.

Though Bear Creek is only about 10 to 12 yards wide at best, anglers can catch and release dozens of trout on smaller jerkbaits, like Yo-Zuri Pins Minnows, or smaller spinners, like Mepps. There is no bait fishing allowed on the stretch from Evergreen Dam downstream to Bear Creek Reservoir. Anglers can keep two fish, but all rainbow trout must be released.

St. Vrain Creek Above Lyons

Flowing through the town of Lyons, about 45 miles from Denver, the North Fork of St. Vrain Creek is picturesque and loaded with trout. The St. Vrain offers lots of pocket water, a few riffles and deeper pools, and is best fished before runoff in early April or May and again after runoff from August through November before much of it freezes over. Launching an adventure out of Lyons will be the best bet for anglers here, as access points are obvious.

Approaching the waters of the St. Vrain, anglers should try casting to unsuspecting trout before they reach the water's edge. Fishing these smaller creeks will be much more productive with upriver casts to distant fish. It might also be a good idea to utilize polarized glasses to spot fish in these small waters.

There are a few regulations for anglers to keep in mind about fishing the three forks of the St. Vrain. Much of the fishing on both the North and South forks is limited to artificial flies and lures, and the limit on trout is two. On the South Fork from Long Lake outlet down to Brainard Lake bridge, fishing is off limits from May 1 until July 15.

Clear Creek Above Golden

Clear Creek, at about 16 miles from Denver on U.S. 6 above Golden, is the quickest option. It's prone to runoff in the spring and deep freeze in winter, but this roadside trout haven can produce bigger browns and rainbows and good numbers of them up and down its reaches. Streamers, lures and flies will all work on this creek. Small nymphs paired with a big stimulator or a hopper work well in the warmer months of July and August. In April and again in September through November, tiny midges are more effective. When runoff hits, anglers should stay clear of this deceptive creek. People die in its waters each year. Those who can't wait till the runoff subsides can try throwing heavier lures and weighted streamers. A split shot with salmon eggs or a worm will also work here.

Article Written By Brian La Rue

Perched atop the Mile High City, Brian La Rue has written outdoor-related articles since 1999. His features have appeared in magazine's including "Western Outdoors," "Fishing & Hunting News" and "High Country Angler." His work can be seen on "ESPN Outdoors." He holds a bachelor's in communications from Cal State Fullerton.

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