Fishing in Leadville, Colorado

Leadville, Twin Lakes and the surrounding area are packed with Colorado fishing opportunities. With the headwaters of the Arkansas River, the small ponds of Hayden Reservoir and Crystal Lakes, the bigger reservoirs of Turquoise and Twin Lakes, as well as many creeks and high lakes to choose from, anglers can enjoy just about any kind of fishing they like right here in Lake County. Get a fishing report here!
Fisherman with catch
The natural drainages of the mighty Sawatch Range to the west and the majestic Mosquito Range to the east form the Upper Arkansas Valley, where the Arkansas River originates for its 1500-mile-trip to the Mississippi River. The Arkansas River is a top-notch fishery, and offers miles and miles of public access. Although spin casters and bait fisherman can be spotted occasionally, fly fishing is the most effective way to tackle this river. On any given day from early spring to late fall, the river will be dotted with anglers refining their art throughout the Highway 24 corridor.

The “Ark” is one of the best wild brown trout habitats in Colorado, and your typical catch is about 10 – 14”, but there are a lot of fish in the 15 – 17” category, and, once in a while, you can even trick trophy-sized trout in this amazing river. Midge and Blue Winged Olives dominate the hatch in the spring and fall, while Stone Fly and Caddis hatches are prolific in the summer months.

The flows of the Arkansas can be high from late spring to early summer, but the clarity of the headwaters is unparalleled, and this water is fishable from late March to late November. If fly fishing in Colorado is your game, don’t miss your chance to have a great day in the beautiful surroundings of the Upper Arkansas River.

If the moving water of the Arkansas River is not your bag, give some of the local still water a try. There are two smaller ponds about 10 minutes south of Leadville, and the two bigger reservoirs of Turquoise and Twin Lakes are also great places to fish.

Hayden Reservoir in Leadville ColoradoHayden Reservoir and Crystal Lakes offer easy access off of Highway 24, and are terrific places to take the kids. These ponds are small enough to keep track of the family, and are stocked with an abundance of catchable-sized rainbows. Crystal is regulated to artificial flies and lures only, but bait is allowed at Hayden Reservoir.

Turquoise Lake is about short drive northeast of town, and Twin Lakes is about 17 miles south of Leadville at the Highway 82 junction. Both offer camping, hiking trails, and boat ramps. If you’re fishing from the shore, the dam at Turquoise Lake can be productive, as well as several of the fisherman accesses from Turquoise Lake Road. From spring and through the summer months, take your fly rod to the inlet at Turquoise to catch rainbows and cutthroats in the moving water.

Fishing from the shore at Twin Lakes is best at the Power Plant and the dam. These big bodies of water also house some of the biggest Mackinaw (lake trout) that the state has to offer. Boating is the best way to go after these giants, targeting the shallows closer to the banks in the spring and fall, and trolling deep water along the shelves in the summer months.

Twin and Turquoise Lakes do have boat ramps, and there are mandatory boat inspections for invasive water species, so make it easy on yourself and inspectors by presenting a boat that is clean and dry. See more about boat inspections and ramp hours.

In the winter, the Leadville Rod and Gun Club hosts the Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby in February, which draws a lot of competition from the surrounding region.

Fly fishing on the Arkansas River in LeadvilleIf it’s smaller water that you’re after, Halfmoon Creek, Busk Creek, and the East Fork of the Arkansas are some of the more easily accessed creeks in Lake County. These creeks are vibrant with brown and brook trout, but the creeks can also offer up rainbows and cutthroat to round out your Colorado grand slam of trout!

Also, from the Buckeye Gulch basin to the southern reaches of the Mount Massive Wilderness area, the high lakes in the Lake County are numerous. These lakes are accessed by hikes of varying degrees of difficulty, and are home to some of the most beautiful cutthroat that you will ever see. The trails and lakes are usually thawed by early July, and the scenery of these areas is second to none. If you want a true Rocky Mountain fishing experience, get yourself to a high lake in the Leadville vicinity.

Whether you are a novice, a weekend warrior or a seasoned angler, Lake County can offer you an unforgettable experience on the water. Get out there and find your niche, on the river, lakes, or streams of Leadville and Twin Lakes in Lake County, Colorado.