Aspen and the entire Roaring Fork Valley are blessed not only with some of the best ski terrain in the country, but some of the best rivers and fly fishing as well. The valley has more than its share of “Gold Medal” streams and rivers, including the Frying Pan, the Colorado, and the Roaring Fork. Streams designated as “Gold Medal” by the Colorado Wildlife Commission are those considered to provide outstanding angling opportunities for large trout.
The Roaring Fork runs all the way from the top of Independence pass into the Colorado and offers many different kinds of fishing experiences. This river offers some of the finest fly and lure fishing for trout in the United States. Catch-and-release sections on the nearby Fryingpan River below Ruedi Reservoir provide anglers with an opportunity to catch rainbow trout up to 10 pounds! The Roaring Fork River not only provides excellent trout fishing with majestic Mount Sopris in the background, but also offers the best mountain whitefish angling in the state.
The Frying Pan is in a remote and pristine valley that runs from the Continental Divide to the hamlet of Basalt, Colorado through some of the most beautiful scenery in Colorado with red buttes, green trees and clear blue water. The Frying Pan Dumps into the Roaring Fork on its way to the Colorado, where you can go for a completely different fishing experience. The 14 miles between Ruedi and the confluence with the Roaring Fork in Basalt is a Gold Medal Fishery in every sense. Incredible insect hatches and Mysis shrimp (from the outlet of Ruedi Dam) give the trout plenty of food to grow to trophy proportions. Although heavily fished during certain times of the year, this section of “The Pan” remains a favorite for those who seek the challenge of large and selective fish.
We are very fortunate to have many different and varied fishing options within a short drive from Aspen and you can experience everything from small and intimate high-country streams filled with brookies or cutthroats to the huge brawling runs of the lower Colorado and all choices in between. Some people choose to do wade trips where you actually get in the water, some feel this is a great way to really connect with the environment while really digging in to catch some big ones. Others choose to go with a Dory and float the river, allowing you to see much of the terrain and cover ground, and if one spot isn’t hitting you just float on to the next.
Most people think of fishing as a spring/summer/fall sport but here in Colorado is has become the thing to do in the winter. No crowds, the fish are hungry as hell and with the modern gear you stay toasty all day. With the bountiful sunshine we get in the area and timing it right it can be extremely pleasant and a great way to rest the legs from skiing.
In addition to great rivers there are a number of lakes with amazing fishing, some are on public land and some are private, we don’t want to give everything away so we will leave it to you to find these gems, but a quick look at some local maps will point you in the right direction.