COPPER MOUNTAIN — With the ice and snow quickly melting away in the Colorado high country, and summer vacation just a few short weeks away, angling enthusiasts are thinking about how they can lure splashy rainbows and fat brown trout into their nets.
Copper Condos is an ideal base camp for exploring some of Colorado's best fishing, from burbling streams filled with feisty brook trout, to still-water lakes where you might even hook a Kokanee Salmon, but with so many options, it can be hard to decide where to go. Here are a few of our favorite fishing holes.
Early season stream fishing can be tough. The water runs high and fast as the snowpack melts off, so looking for calmer waters is the key to success, and some of the ponds alongside I-70 between Copper Mountain and Frisco could be the ticket.
- Curtain Pond & Officers Gulch - The so-called Curtain Ponds were formed when highway builders leveling a path for the interstate excavated rock and gravel along the route. Since then, they've been well-stocked with brook and rainbow trout that will rise to a fly or dart after a spinner. Officers Gulch Pond even gets stocked with catchable-size trout a couple of times each spring and summer. The best access to these ponds is from westbound I-70. Look for the Officers Gulch rest area sign as well as the broad turnout just before the Copper Mountain exit.
- Clinton Gulch Reservoir - Up along Highway 91 (heading south from Copper Mountain), local water users and ski areas built Clinton Gulch Reservoir in stunning alpine valley on the west side of the Tenmile Range. The reservoir helps bolster local water supplies for snowmaking, but the Colorado Division of Wildlife also saw an opportunity to use it as a haven for colorful cutthroat trout — the only trout species that's actually native to Colorado. Clinton Gulch Reservoir is about 7 miles south of Copper on the east (left) side of Highway 91.
- Black Lakes - Just across Vail Pass to the west of Copper Mountain is another pair of reservoirs that help with water supplies in the Vail Valley. Black Lakes harbors a healthy population of rainbow trout and Colorado Parks and Wildlife stocks the reservoir with large catchable trout a couple of times each summer.
- Wheeler Lakes - If you like to combine fishing with a little hike, then Wheeler Lakes might be the spot for you. This popular trail starts right at the Copper Mountain exit from I-70 and leads up to an idyllic set of mountain lakes with stunning views of Copper Mountain ski area and the southern end of the Gore Range. The lakes are full of brook trout, some which grow surprisingly large in the relatively shallow (and thus warmer) waters of the lakes.
- Blue River - No angler in Summit County should miss wetting his or her line in the catch-and-release Gold Medal waters of the Blue River in Silverthorne, just below Dillon Reservoir near the factory outlet stores (use exit 205 from I-70). Brown trout grow fat and sassy on a steady diet of mysis shrimp that spill out of the depths of Dillon Reservoir, and rainbows are making a strong comeback after being nearly wiped out by whirling disease.
Remember, anglers are responsible for knowing what special rules and regulations are in effect, so visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife fishing website to get up to speed, and check out the fishing report for regular updates.
You can find more Colorado fishing information online here: