Guide to Colorado Fishing Trips

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There are so many outdoor activities competing for your attention in Colorado. However, fishing in the Grand Junction area is hard to beat. The mighty Colorado River and the Gunnison River meet in the heart of Grand Junction and wind their way through the vast geographically unique landscape. 


Whether you live in Colorado or are visiting, we've put together a helpful guide, so you can start your Colorado fishing trip off right. When visiting a new area, finding a prolific fishing spot can be challenging, so we're here to help! We've included a handful of helpful resources and tools so you can get out on the water and reel in plenty of fish.


Colorado Fishing Season

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The Colorado fishing season is open year-round, so whether you prefer fishing from a boat in the summer, fall fly fishing on a stream, or bundled up in an ice house, there is an opportunity to fish every season in Colorado. While you can fish anytime, you’ll need a license before going out. Licenses are available to purchase year-round and can be bought as an annual license (expires March 31) or a multi-day license. There’s also a free weekend on the first full weekend in June every year when licenses aren’t required.


Keep in mind, that a few regulations and special conditions may apply. So before heading out on a fishing trip, check out the Fishing Regulations Brochure by Colorado Parks & Wildlife. The Fishing Regulations Brochure will also provide information on statewide bag limits per fish species.


How to Pick Your Fishing Location

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The Grand Junction area is chock-full of fantastic fishing spots. Choosing a location depends on what fish you plan to catch, the style of fishing you prefer, and what gear or equipment you have. If you enjoy catching trout on a fly rod, the Colorado River or Gunnison River would be a good starting point. You also don't need to travel far to start hooking some quality fish. Both rivers run through the heart of Grand Junction, and many locals fish right in town. 


In addition to stream fishing, the Grand Junction region is home to multiple reservoirs such as Vega Reservoir, Griffith Lake, and Sweitzer Lake State Park. While you can find success casting from the shoreline, it helps to get out on the water in a small raft or boat. This will allow you to reach deeper water and reel in some big kahunas.


While choosing a location is half the battle, there are other factors to consider before getting your line wet. Check water levels, water temperatures, and familiarize yourself with the species you are targeting. Also, be sure to follow proper catch and release or bag limit regulations. Fortunately, the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the U.S.G.S provide an online fishing guide for river and lake levels across the state.


Essential Fishing Gear for Colorado

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One of the key components to a successful day of fishing is having the right gear. There's nothing worse than hooking a large brown trout and having your line break or forgetting a net. It is important to ensure that you double-check all of your gear and it is in good working order before heading out for the day. 


If you plan to spend the day on the river, waders, boots, a vest, and a hip pack are some useful and sometimes necessary items to have. Additionally, some small gear items can go a long way. Since you'll be spending most of the day in the Colorado sun, sunglasses, sunscreen, mosquito spray, and plenty of water are recommended.  


Having gear for proper fish handling is also helpful. Along with your fishing pole and tackle, a pair of tweezers or a dehooking tool will ensure you can catch and release properly. In addition to proper catch and release regulations, following fish handling etiquette is encouraged. Pro tip: getting your hands wet before grabbing/handling trout helps prevent the removal of their protective coating and keeps your hand from getting that strong fish smell that is impossible to wash off. Last but not least, bring your camera along and snap a photo of your fish before releasing it into the water! You can use this for bragging rights over drinks that evening—or for your Hinge profile, we suppose.


Local Fishing Guide Services

Person holding a Brook Trout on the Grand Mesa

Let one of our Grand Junction local guides do the work if you want to take the hassle out of planning a fishing trip. A handful of knowledgeable fishing guides in the Grand Junction area would love to show you the best of the area’s waters. A few local companies we recommend are Grand Valley River Excursions and Western Anglers in Downtown Grand Junction


Depending on how serious you are about fishing, you can choose between half-day or full-day trips. Not only will a local guide put you in the best fishing locations in the area, but they will also share their knowledge about the history and geography of this beautiful destination and their knowledge of the species that call it home.


Additional Colorado Fishing Resources

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Photo By: Carlos Contreras

A great way to sharpen your Colorado fishing skills is by researching the region's current fishing conditions and stocking reports. Colorado Parks & Wildlife offers up-to-date online resources for anglers and fishing maps so you can get out there and have a successful day on the water. Check out the Colorado Parks & Wildlife fishing website to purchase a fishing license, download the fishing brochure, and read current fishing news and conditions. 


After a fun day on the water, share your fishing stories with family or friends at one of the amazing dining options in Grand Junction, only minutes from the river. Check out the Official Grand Junction Visitor Guide for more activities and things to do in Grand Junction.