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Activities / Colorado Livin' / Denver Fun / Family Travel / Teens/Tweens

The best places to fish as a family in Colorado

The best places to fish as a family in Colorado

Kids and fishing go together like cake and ice cream.

As a general rule, as long as they’re catching fish, kids are happy. It’s during those extended dry spells that those short attention spans begin to flutter. That’s when the mentor needs to remember that this family-friendly pastime is about a lot more than catching fish.

“When your kids are fingerlings themselves, it’s more about getting out for a little R&R and your kids getting out for a little fresh air than it actually catching fish,” says Eugene Buchanan, the Steamboat Springs-based author of ” Outdoor Parents, Outdoor Kids: A Guide to Getting Your Kids Active in the Great Outdoors.” “But what better excuse is there to wet a line? ‘Honey, I’m taking the kids fishing,’ is an utterance that will likely never land you in the dog house.”

Once that commitment has been made, the key is staying on the kids’ good side. And that means picking a good spot to fish.

It’s always a good idea to fish where kids are likely to catch something. It’s a better idea to have a backup activity planned if the fishing isn’t working out.

Even the most ardent fly fishers recognize that most kids don’t have the patience, or coordination, for fly casting. But a $15 push-button rod-and-reel combo with a casting bubble (basically a water-logged bobber) and a sinking fly like a hare’s ear of pheasant tail a few feet below is generally just the ticket for catching stocked trout or sunfish. Good old worms will also do the trick.

“Occasionally I’ll even throw a little PowerBait onto an old dry fly and turn the kids loose at a little brook trout pond near home,” Buchanan confessed. “I feel guilty for keeping a jar in my fly-fishing vest until I hear the yell that makes all parents proud: ‘Dad! I got one! I got one!’ ”

Nothing offers more action for kids than sunfish/bluegill, especially when they move to the shallows for spring spawning and aggressively attack almost any bait. But a well-stocked trout pond is never a bad idea either. A slightly wilder reservoir such as Fairlplay Beach up in South Park offers the benefit of both abundant stocker trout for younger kids and an occasional trophies 5 pounds or more on spawning runs up from Spinney Mountain Reservoir a dozen miles downstream.

Even though dad is probably better off leaving his tackle in the truck while teaching a kid to fish, those kinds of opportunities can be hard to pass up. Since fishing serves as the ultimate multi-generational sport, however, the savvy angler is wise to bring grandpa along for just such emergencies. That way you can have your cake, and ice cream too.

Family fishing hot spots

A closer look at three family friendly fishing spots.

– Mount Evans Trout Fishing (Grandma & Grandpa’s Fishing Pond), Idaho Springs. Poles, bait, fish cleaning, friendly help and reindeer-watching included . No license and no limit. 303-567-4017

– Bear Creek Lake Park, Lakewood. Trout, bass, bluegill and perch can be caught in this large lake. Boat rentals and wildlife exhibits at the visitor center, where rangers can help plan your trip. 303-697-6159

– St. Vrain State Park, Longmont. A great spot for families with easy hiking and wildlife watching (eagles, herons). Heavily stocked with trout, catfish, bass, perch, bluegill and saugeye. 303-485-0186

Other suggested spots, courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife:

Chipeta Lake, Montrose County

Corn Lake, Mesa County

Fairplay Beach, Park County

Frantz Lake, Chaffee County

Haviland Lake, La Plata County

Kingfisher Cove at Chatfield State Park, Douglas/Jefferson counties

Midwestern Farm Pond, Prowers County

Monument Lake, El Paso County

West Lake, Mesa County

Learn more at:

Note: Kids under age 16 can fish for free anytime in Colorado.

-By Scott Willoughby

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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  1. We love fishing as a family. One of our favorites is Schryver Park Kids Pond, Manitou Springs.

    One of Manitou Springs’ claims to fame is the mineral spring water that the town was built around, and this small pond is the perfect place for the whole family to sink a line into those famous waters. On the east side of town, the pond is fed by Fountain Creek and shaded by giant cottonwood trees. Each spring, the Colorado Division of Wildlife stocks it with catchable trout. Other activities include a community swimming pool and playground.

  2. Don’t be surprise but Longmont is a great place. St. Vrain State Park offers more fishing ponds than anyone could visit in one trip. Sandpiper and Mallard ponds win best spots for families because of their accessibility from the parking lot, proximity to restrooms and heavy-handed stocking of rainbow trout, channel catfish, bass, perch, bluegill and saugeye. While you’re there, also check out easy hiking trials and new camping sites.

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