Estes Park Fishing

Fish tales

Fishing in the Rocky Mountains is more than dropping a line in the water and hoping for the best. It takes concentration, patience, and local knowledge to hook the elusive rainbow or greenback cutthroat trout. If you are new to the area and looking for the best fishing spots, hire a local guide.

Whether you are a novice or expert angler, a guide can customize a fishing trip to create an unforgettable fly fishing experience. Estes Park fly fishing outfitters know the local waters, fishing conditions, and the best fly patterns. They can also provide the latest gear and rentals. If you’ve not fished before, now is the time to take a lesson and learn how to wet a line.

Local Waters

The Big Thompson River below Lake Estes contains some of the best fly fishing in the area. The first eight miles, from Olympus Dam at the east end of Lake Estes to Waltonia Bridge, require a fly or lure for catch-and-release fishing. The rest of the Big Thompson River canyon is open fishing and has highly-
accessible water with brown and rainbow trout.

Marys Lake and Lake Estes are good drive-to fishing spots. Lake Estes is a 148-acre lake with four miles of fishing shoreline that is great for fly or spin fishing. Marys Lake is another great place to try your luck with either fly or spin fishing. 

People come from all around the globe to fish in the incredibly scenic, pristine waters of Rocky Mountain National Park. There are 147 lakes, but not all have fish in them. Pick up a brochure listing lakes with fish and park regulations at a visitor center.

Easily accessible Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park is a beautiful setting with hungry trout. The mosquitoes are out in the morning and evening, so don’t forget the bug repellant.

The Wild Basin area is beautiful and remote, thus will require a trek to reach, but completely worth the effort. This area can have hungry “skeeters,” so bring bug repellent.

Rocky’s waters contain wild trout. (Some suckers are also found in the streams and lakes.) Make a goal to catch (and release) the Colorado Grand Slam: brook, rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout.

Fishing Rules

Anyone age 18-64 who wants to fish in Colorado is required to purchase a $10 Colorado Habitat Stamp, in addition to a fishing license, to legally fish in the state. The stamp fee is automatically included in the price of your first fishing license. Purchase of the Habitat Stamp provides the main funds for the Colorado Wildlife Habitat Protection Program.

An annual fishing license is required for anglers 16 and older. One- or five-day fishing licenses are available. Please call 800-244-5613, or visit for details, or see our list of advertisers on the next column. 

Fish are vulnerable to several invasive organisms that can be carried on waders and other gear. Please disinfect your gear before entering local waters and when moving between lakes and streams.

Guides and gear

  • Estes Angler has licenses and offers guided fishing trips. 970-586-2110,
  • True Value Hardware, 970-586-3496,, carries fishing gear and licenses.
  • Estes Park Mountain Shop has a fly shop with licenses, and leads guided fly-fishing trips. 970-586-6548,
  • Kirks Fly Shop and Mountain Adventures is a fly shop with all kinds of gear, licenses, and leads guided fly-fishing trips. 970-577-0790,
  • Rocky Mountain Adventures leads guided fly-fishing trips. 800-858-6808,