The Best Places to Fly Fish in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley

Stephanie Kroll

The Colorado Rockies are renowned for offering some of the world’s best fishing spots, and the Roaring Fork Valley is no exception. This region, located in the heart of Colorado, boasts the state's longest stretch of Gold Medal Water, offering unparalleled fishing opportunities for anglers of all skill levels. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a novice, casting your line into the crisp Colorado streams with family and friends is a rewarding experience. Here are some of the best places to fish in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Colorado River and the Roaring Fork River

The Colorado River and the Roaring Fork River provide exceptional fishing experiences that attract anglers from around the globe. These rivers meet in Glenwood Springs and offer numerous easily accessible points for fishing. Known for their large and combative fish, these rivers are legendary destinations. The primary species include Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout, which are big, aggressive, and strong. Brook Trout and Cutthroat Trout, while smaller and less common, add to the excitement with their surface strikes.

The Fryingpan River

"The Pan" is a beautiful 14-mile stretch of Gold Medal Water below Ruedi Reservoir, flowing into the Roaring Fork River in Basalt, Colorado. This semi-remote section is famous for its spectacular views and excellent flyfishing opportunities. Anglers can catch all of Colorado’s native trout species here, including Rainbow, Brown, Brook, and Cutthroat Trout. The best time to fish the Fryingpan is from mid-June to the end of September, with the prolific Green Drake mayfly being particularly effective.

East Elk Creek

East Elk Creek, located northwest of downtown New Castle, Colorado, offers great family-friendly fishing options. The local fish hatcheries stock the lower sections with Rainbow Trout each season, and large Brown Trout migrate upstream to spawn in the spring. The creek is full of fish and provides excellent opportunities for both serious and first-time anglers. The Elk Creek Campground in New Castle offers nearly a mile of creek access for its guests.

Harvey Gap and Rifle Gap Reservoirs

Unlike many Colorado fishing spots dominated by native trout, Harvey Gap and Rifle Gap Reservoirs offer a diverse ecosystem. These reservoirs are home to Catfish, Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Perch, Crappie, and Northern Pike. Anglers can use a variety of fishing methods, including flyfishing, spinners, jig fishing, and live bait. Shore fishing is common, but many fishermen use boats or canoes to explore different parts of the lakes.

Roaring Fork River

The Roaring Fork River, flowing from Aspen to Glenwood Springs, offers a variety of fishing experiences depending on the section. The upper sections near Aspen are smaller and more braided, creating a small stream fishing environment with plenty of public access. The middle section, around Carbondale, is more scenic and floatable, especially where the Fryingpan and Crystal Rivers join the Roaring Fork. The lower section near Glenwood Springs offers larger waters and is also classified as Gold Medal Water.

Upper Section

The upper section of the Roaring Fork holds numerous smaller fish, including many tributaries around Aspen. This area is ideal for small stream fishing and offers excellent access, with an abundance of whitefish.

Middle Section

This section is the most scenic and lies upstream and downstream of Carbondale. The confluence with the Fryingpan and Crystal Rivers makes the river larger and more floatable. You can typically float from this section all the way to the Colorado River confluence.

Lower Section

The lower section, closer to Glenwood Springs, has more private water, but public access points are available near parks and confluences. This section receives more fishing pressure but still offers good fishing opportunities.

Seasonal Highlights

Fishing in the Roaring Fork Valley varies by season, offering unique opportunities year-round. March and April bring frenzied caddis hatches, while the famous Green Drake hatch starts in July on the Roaring Fork and peaks in late August on the Fryingpan. Fall offers incredible streamer fishing from drift boats or rafts, while spring and fall hatches of blue-winged olives create excellent dry and nymph fishing throughout the valley. Winter fishing on the Fryingpan can yield giant fish, as low water levels concentrate hungry fish around midges and mysis shrimp.

Plan Your Trip

Access to the Roaring Fork Valley is convenient via Interstate 70 from Denver or by flying into Aspen Airport. Lodging options range from simple motels to luxurious accommodations, with plenty of public fishing access points and rental equipment available. Whether you prefer the hustle and bustle of Aspen or the more laid-back atmosphere of Basalt, the Roaring Fork Valley offers something for every angler. From high alpine lakes to red-walled canyons, the valley’s diverse waters and consistent productivity make it a top fishing destination.

So pack your gear and head to the Roaring Fork Valley for a fishing adventure you'll never forget. With its stunning scenery, diverse fish populations, and world-class waters, it's a paradise for any angler.

Looking to buy riverfront property in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley so that you can access the abundant fishing here whenever you'd like? Reach out to the real estate team at Avant Garde Aspen, it would be our pleasure to assist you in finding your dream riverfront home here. 

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