Fish the Upper Rio Grande


The Upper Rio Grande area offers some of the best fishing in Colorado. Gold Medal waters on the river and an abundance of creeks, lakes, and reservoirs provide year-round opportunities for the avid fisherman! Online and in-person, check with knowledgeable outdoor shops, license vendors, fishing lodges, guides and outfitters.

Lakes & Reservoirs

There are over 80 in the area, 13 of which are 20 minutes from town. From high mountain lakes that require a lengthy hike, to nearby reservoirs accessible by any car and outfitted with boat ramps and handicap amenities, you are sure to find water suitable for your style.

Stream & Creek Fishing

The Rio Grande and its tributaries offer slow running waters, excellent for fly fishing as well as with lures. Many of the river’s smaller tributaries offer stream sized fish, and are abundant with aquatic life like cutthroat and rainbow trout. The most popular streams include: Embargo, Beaver, and Rock creeks. The South Fork of the Rio Grande offers good stream and bank fishing, wading, bait, cast and fly fishing for browns, rainbows, and brooks. It is accessible by car with some walk-in areas.

Ice Fishing

Several lakes in the area are great for winter ice fishing. A few of our favorites include Beaver Creek Reservoir, Big Meadows Reservoir and Road Canyon Reservoir west of Creede.

Salmonfly Hatch

South fork and the Upper Rio Grande river are not only known for their fifteen miles of Gold Medal Water, but also for the Salmonfly Hatch associated with it. Usually starting in mid-June, you can follow the hatch all the way up the river to the headwaters ending sometime in July when the terrestrials take over.


Click to enlarge fishing map:
south fork colorado fishing map 1

Learn More:

Fishing Licenses are required for people 16 years or older. Children under 16 don't need a license, and may take a full bag and possession limit.
Daily Bag Limit: is the maximum number of fish you can take in one day - this varies according to the area and species, so please consult the state guide book
Possession Limit: is the maximum number of fish allowed in possession at any time.

Gold Medal Waters on the Rio Grande River

SF SouthFork2012 02South Fork boasts the longest stretch of Gold Medal Waters in the entire state. Nearly 20 miles of the Rio Grande River receive this designation from the Colorado Division of Wildlife. These designations are given out sparingly and represent the highest quality aquatic habitat in Colorado - your best chance to catch a trophy trout! Gold Medal waters support recreational fishing, by keeping fish in the water and letting them grow to a larger size. Brown and rainbow trout fishing is good from the Rio Grande Reservoir downstream to Del Norte. The section of water between South Fork and Del Norte provides the best location for catching trophy brown trout.

There are several access point for the Rio Grande, please consult state guide book, and observe all posted private property markers. When fishing any Gold Medal waters, be sure that you know what the possession limits for the area are and the type of fish allowed. This information can be obtained through the Colorado Fishing Season Information printed, by the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Million Reservoir
On the Map: H5Location: FS 360.1B - Bait: All - Elevation 8,700 ft.
The 4 acres of water, offers a variety of Rainbow Trout, which are best caught on either bait, lures, or flies. The reservoir is located on the Beaver Creek Reservoir road, on the edge of South Fork and is then only about 5 miles, through some of the best site seeing forest the Rio Grande has to offer.

Big Meadows Reservoir
On the Map: G6Location: FS 410 - Bait: All - Elevation 9,200 ft.
114 acres of water, with easy access for kids, and seniors, and is HANDICAPP-accessible. Big Meadows offers a variety of fish including rainbow and brook trout, salmon and German browns. They are all caught equally well with bait, lures, and flies. It is farther from town than the other reservoirs, at a distance of 18 miles, but the drive is well worth the fish found in its waters.

South Fork of Rio Grande
On the map: G,H 6Location: Hwy. 160 - Bait: All
Several pullouts along this 11-mile stretch of river provide for a variety of habitats and fish. Mostly Brookies and Browns, but Rainbows and Cutthroat as well.

Shaw Lake
On the Map: G6Location: FS 430 - Bait: All - Elevation 9,850 ft.
20 acres of water. This lake offers good trolling for cutthroats and brookies. All caught equally well on any type of lure. Facilities include a boat ramp, rest rooms, and is handicap accessible.

Beaver Creek Reservoir
On the Map: H6Location: FS 360 - Bait: All - Elevation 8,850 ft.
114 acres of water offers easy access for kids, seniors, and is handicap accessible. Like Big Meadows there are various types of trout, browns, and salmon, found in its waters. Caught on any type of rig that you may want to use whether bait, lure or flies. This is one of the closest lakes to town, with exceptional fishing, with a drive time of only 15-20 minutes. The lake itself is approximately 8 miles outside of town, with a spectacular drive that warrants a slower drive time. This lake also offers exceptional winter ice fishing.

Hunters Lake
On the Map: F6Location: FS 430 - Bait: All - Elevation 11,400 ft
8 acres of water. The fish can be slow to bite, but are available for the patient angler. However, fly fishing is good for rainbows. This lake requires a 1/2 mile hike from your car.

Tucker Ponds
On the Map: G7Location: FS 390 - Bait: All - Elevation 9,700 ft.
With 4 acres of water. This is a great spot for amateur fishing, with good bait, and fly fishing for rainbows. This area is accessible by car and offers camping facilities, and picnic area. Facilities include two docks and toilet facilities, and is handicap accessible.

Pass Creek Lake
On the Map: G7 - Location: Hwy 160/FS 390 - Bait: All
This lake is also good for bait and fly fishing for rainbows. There limited parking just off Hwy 160, with no other facilities but is winter accessible. Pass Creek
On the map: G7 - Location: Hwy 160/FS 390 - Bait: Artificial fly/lure
From Alberta Park reservoir at 10,180 ft. to its confluence with the South Fork of the Rio at 8,900 ft., this stream will surely test your stamina and skills at nabbing a native Cutthroat.

Crystal Lakes
On the Map: I7 - Location: FS 332 - Bait: All - Elevation 11,300 ft. approx.
9 acres of water in both the upper and lower lakes. Fishing is good for brookies, cutthroats, and rainbows at both locations.

Alberta Lake   On the Map: G7Location: FS 391 Bait: Artificial Flies & Lures only

Brown Lakes   On the Map: D3Location: FS 516 Bait: All

Brown Park   On the Map: H5Location: Co Rd 15 Bait: Artificial Flies & Lures only

Carnero Creek   On the Map: J2-3Location: Co Rd 41G Bait: Artificial Flies & Lures only

Coller State   Fishing Area On the Map: G-H4Location: Hwy 149 Bait: Artificial Flies & Lures only

Conejos River   On the Map: J9Location: Co Rd 250 Bait: Upper: Artificial Flies & Lures only. Lower: Fly only

Continental Reservoir   On the Map: C3Location: RS 513 Bait: All

Creede State Fishing Area   On the Map: F3Location: Deep Crk Rd Bait: Artificial Flies & Lures only

Fuchs Reservoir   On the Map: I7Location: FS 329 Bait:

Lake San Cristobal   On the Map: C2Location: Co Rd 30 Bait: All

Marshall Park CG   On the Map: F4Location: Hwy 149 Bait: Artificial Flies & Lures only

Pass Creek   On the Map: G7Location: Hwy 160 Bait: Artificial Flies & Lures only Cutthroat return immed.

Platoro Reservoir   On the Map: I9Location: FS 247 Bait: All

Poage Lake   On the Map: H7Location: FS 360 Bait: Artificial Flies & Lures only

Regan Lake   On the Map: C4Location: FS 521 Bait: All

Rio Grande CG   On the Map: E4Location: Hwy 149 Bait: Artificial Flies & Lures only

Rio Grande Resvr   On the Map: C4Location: FS 520 Bait: All

Rio Grande River   On the Map: I5Location: Co Rd 17, 18, & 19 bridges Bait: Artificial Flies & Lures only  

Rito Hondo Resvr   On the Map: D3Location: FS 513 Bait: All

Road Canyon Resvr   On the Map: D4Location: FS 520 Bait: All

Saguache Creek   On the Map: I1-2Location: FS 776 Bait: Artificial Flies & Lures only

Seepage Lakes   On the Map: E4Location: FS 509 Bait: All

South Fork River   On the Map: G6-H5Location: Hwy 160 Bait: All

W San Francisco Lake   On the Map: J7Location: Co Rd 13 Bait: Artificial Flies & Lures only

Williams Creek Resvr   On the Map: C7Location: FS 640 Bait: All

Continental Divide Trail Stop

South Fork is a Continental Divide Trail Gateway Community

Outdoor Recreation Map

south fork colorado recreation map