Where To Go Fishing In Grand Lake, Colorado

As the most fully-stocked fly fishing equipment shop and bait shop in all of Grand County, Kirks Flyshop Grand Lake is your go-to source for not only gear, but also the most up-to-date Grand Lake fishing information. Our staff spends more time fly fishing the Grand Lake area than anybody and can point you in the right direction for sections of rivers and lakes where you are sure to have success. 

This blog outlines some of our favorite spots to fish at Grand Lake and Grand County, but the success you have in these areas can often be highly contingent on the time of year and current conditions. For the most up-to-date Grand Lake fishing report, feel free to stop by our store in downtown Grand Lake or give us a call!

grand lake in western colorado

Best Grand Lake Fly Fishing Locations

Fishing at Grand Lake and the surrounding areas is a must for any angler’s bucket list! Nestled in the heart of the Rockies, Grand Lake offers a unique blend of natural beauty and exceptional Grand Lake fishing opportunities. Picture yourself casting a line beneath snow-capped mountain peaks, in a small stream teeming with wild trout eager for your dry fly. Fishing at Grand Lake stands out not only for its scenic charm but also for the diverse fishing experiences it provides. From expansive lakeshores to winding streams, Grand Lake fly fishing caters to varied preferences. The thrill of fly fishing in mountain streams or hiking to the numerous alpine lakes creates a dynamic angling adventure.

If you are fishing at Grand Lake or the nearby area, you have quick and easy access to the entire western slope of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains within an easy drive. While many bigger rivers offer great fishing a couple of hours west of Grand Lake, we focus primarily on the Colorado River and smaller local streams.

an angler stands in a small stream while fly fishing for trout in the mountains

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is what draws many visitors to fishing at Grand Lake. With some of the most scenic views in America, an abundance of wildlife, and opportunities to catch wild trout on a fly rod, what’s not to love? With a solid mix of small stream fly fishing and alpine lakes, fly fishing in Rocky Mountain National Park is an angler’s paradise! Featuring species like rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, and the infamous Greenback or Colorado River Cutthroat, the fish are wild and always beautiful. Fly anglers could stay busy for an entire season in RMNP alone without ever fishing outside of its borders.

Here are a couple of locations inside the park that are less than 20 minutes away from downtown for fishing near Grand Lake:

  • East Inlet Fishing Grand Lake
    • If the east inlet trailhead was on the Estes Park side of RMNP, the trailhead parking lot would be full before 7:00 AM all summer long. However, Grand Lake receives much less tourist traffic, and therefore there are very few people who actually fish the East Inlet creek running into Grand Lake. If you are interested in fishing dry-droppers to native trout, this is a great spot for you. Don’t expect to catch any trout over seven or eight inches, but when the conditions are right, you can catch more brook trout than you can imagine. The best thing to do is to wait until mid-June into July when the river levels have receded from their winter run-off, and make the short hike above Adams Falls to begin fishing. 
  • Colorado River in RMNP
    • The Colorado River inside of the Park is another section of stream that looks like it belongs on a postcard. In fact, this is where the mighty Colorado River that flows through the Grand Canyon originates. It is also home to native brook, brown, and the occasional cutthroat trout. If you are looking for the most genuine Grand Lake fishing experience, this is a great spot for you. Simply park your vehicle at any of the campgrounds or trailheads in the main Colorado River valley and hike across the meadow to the river. The river levels are also typically best here from the middle of June to the beginning of August. 
  • Alpine Lakes
    • While small streams take all the glory of fly fishing in Grand Lake, many of our Grand Lake fishing guides favorite locations to fish exist in the alpine landscapes of Rocky Mountain National Park. With a vast amount of high mountain lakes to explore, many of which are stocked with trout, the angler willing to get boots on the ground and put some miles under their belt will be rewarded. Grab any trail map from Rocky Mountain National Park and pick a lake, most of them have trout and some have trophies. Call our Grand Lake fly shop and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

an angler stands in the Colorado River during fall

Colorado River

One of the most well-known rivers in the United States, the Colorado River originates a short distance upstream of Grand Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park and flows through western Colorado before crossing the border into Utah and onto the Gulf of California it continues, providing drinking water for upwards of 40 million people over 7 different states. While its lower reaches are made famous by its grandeur reputation and desert landscapes, the upper river for fishing near Grand Lake is a small-to-medium-sized river depending on where you’re fishing. From small creek-like wading in its headwaters in RMNP to float fishing the Colorado River from a moving boat, it’s a diverse place to fish and requires many different angling skills.

Here are the main areas where we fly fish the Colorado River:

  • Colorado River below Shadow Mountain Reservoir
    • This is another spot that is practically a stone’s throw away from downtown Grand Lake. Making the short drive down to the western side of Shadow Mountain Reservoir will lead you to a parking lot where the Colorado River leaves the reservoir. For roughly two miles, this section of river flows through public land before it enters Lake Granby. When the flows are up (above 400 cfs) the best thing to do is follow the trail down the river a couple hundred yards and fish for the abundance of rainbow trout that move up out of Lake Granby.
  • Colorado River at Byers Canyon
    • Byers Canyon is an adventurous fishing spot 20-30 minutes outside of Grand Lake near the town of Hot Sulphur Springs. Due to the difficulty of access, Byers Canyon is best for the nimble footed angler. Reaching the river requires scrambling down steep boulder fields. That being said, the rewards are highly worth it. This public section of river doesn’t see all that many anglers, and the brown and rainbow trout are plentiful. Fishing stonefly nymphs and emergers will yield high numbers of fish here all summer long. 
  • Colorado River at Pumphouse
    • If you have done any amount of research on fly fishing the Colorado River, you have likely heard of this place called “Pumphouse,” or you may have already fished here yourself. This boat ramp is located just outside of Kremmling and is where most of our guided float fishing trips originate from. However, there is also great DIY wade fishing to be had at this spot. The best thing to do is to park at the Pumphouse parking lot and hike a couple hundred yards up Gore Canyon before you start fishing. There are a high concentration of healthy sized browns and rainbows in this section of the Colorado River, and the views are textbook Colorado fly fishing.

man stands on a rock and fishes a large lake during fall with yellow trees in the background

Best Bait & Tackle Fishing at Grand Lake and Beyond

If you find yourself with family in town for a brief visit and are seeking an ideal spot to engage the kids in a memorable Grand Lake fishing experience, or if you happen to be a fan of traditional rod and reel fishing as opposed to fly fishing, Grand Lake fishing and its surrounding areas offer a selection of excellent fishing locations to explore. The diverse Grand Lake fishing opportunities cater to various preferences, ensuring a rewarding experience for both family outings and solo angling adventures.

For those with family in tow, Grand Lake fishing provides family-friendly fishing spots that combine the joy of fishing with a welcoming environment for children. Whether it’s casting lines into the beautiful upper Colorado River or enjoying a peaceful afternoon by the lake, these locations are perfect for introducing the younger generation to the joys of angling. Additionally, the nearby accessibility and amenities make it convenient for families to enjoy a day by the water, creating lasting memories in a picturesque setting.

For those who lean towards the more traditional approach of rod and reel fishing, Grand Lake fishing has you covered. The area boasts well-maintained fishing locations that cater to those who appreciate the simplicity and effectiveness of traditional fishing methods. Here are few spots for fishing near Grand Lake:

Point Park at Grand Lake

While the most effective method for fishing Grand Lake is from the boat, shore-bound anglers can still experience quality fishing at Grand Lake at Point Park, located near the north end of the lake where Grand Lake connects to Shadow Mountain Reservoir. Early in the summer, this is typically where the Colorado Parks and Wildlife will stock the highest quantity of fish, providing ample opportunity for anglers who are fishing from shore. 

Shadow Mountain Reservoir

During the early months of the season, particularly in May and June, Shadow Mountain Reservoir stands out as another fantastic Grand Lake fishing destination. Near the dam, anglers can experience the thrill of catching sizable brown trout and, if luck is on their side, the occasional elusive lake trout. The proximity to the dam creates an optimal environment for varied fishing techniques, making it an enticing spot for those seeking a diverse range of fish. The scenic surroundings enhance the overall experience, providing anglers with a picturesque backdrop against which to enjoy their fishing endeavors.

However, as the summer progresses, a shift occurs at Shadow Mountain Reservoir. The later months often bring about a noticeable increase in weed growth, transforming the lake’s landscape and posing a challenge for shore-based fishing. During this period, anglers may find it more difficult to access prime fishing spots from the bank.

Colorado River Below Shadow Mountain

If you are interested in fishing a river using either bait or lures near Grand Lake, the Colorado River below Shadow Mountain Reservoir is one of the best places to go. There is always a high concentration of fish in the holes directly below the dam, but hiking down to the mouth of where the river opens into Lake Granby can also be very successful! Try the standard lures like Roostertails, Kastmasters, and spinners for the best success at catching large trout.

While it might be tempting to stay close to the dam, don’t be afraid to explore some of the fishing holes further downriver. Often, some of the best fishing near Grand Lake can be furthest from the parking area.

The Spillway Into Lake Granby

When there is water being poured into the lake through the tunnel on the northwest side of the lake, many fish will concentrate there to feed on the extra food. Fishing from the bank on Lake Granby here can be relaxing and productive if you are hoping to grill some of your trout. If the water is being flushed in, you can’t miss it from the road. There will likely be other cars parked along the highway into Kremmling fishing along this bank. If you have questions about how to find any of these locations, please stop by our Grand Lake fly shop, and we can point them out on the map!

Guided Fishing With Kirks Flyshop

Want to be most effective during your Grand Lake fishing trip? Book one of the fishing guides at Kirks Flyshop! Whether you want to fly fish near Grand Lake or go on a Grand Lake fishing charter, we have the guides and the gear to put you on fish. From the high country streams of Rocky Mountain National Park to the depths of Grand Lake fishing and floating the Colorado River. Kirks Flyshop is the premier fly fishing outfitter and fly shop in the area.