Fishing in Clear Creek County

Fishing in Clear Creek County

A Colorado vacation is always fun when combining camping, hiking and fishing. Clear Creek County offers adventures for every type of mountain angler, just 20 miles west of Denver. From Clear Creek, high alpine lakes and streams to local reservoirs, anglers can hike, 4-wheel, or simply exit I-70 to pursue Brown, Rainbow, and Brook Trout. Some of Clear Creek County’s alpine lakes even contain populations of Lake Trout.

Don’t forget your Fishing License

A fishing license is required for people 16 and older to take fish, amphibians and crustaceans, except as noted. Children under 16 do not need a fishing license and can take a full bag and possession limit. Colorado residents 64 and older can obtain a free annual fishing license from a DOW office or license agent. Click Here to Purchase Your License Online 

Local Licensing Outfitters

Clear Creek Outdoors
1524 Miner Street, Idaho Springs
(303) 567-1500

Colorado Country General Store
6 East Park Avenue, Empire
(303) 569-2456

Downieville Fuel Stop Sinclair
1039 County Road 308, Downieville
(303) 567-4730

2425 Miner Street, Idaho Springs
(303) 567-4471

Local Fishing Hole

Mt. Evans Trout Fishing
4125 Highway 103, Idaho Springs
(303) 567-4017

Different Types of Fishing in Clear Creek County

The following are specific locations that will meet the needs of different types of fishing preferences.

Lake Fishing – Easy access (Drive on up!)

Georgetown Lake – Fantastic Lake located in Georgetown with picnic grounds, restrooms, wheel-chair accessible fishing docks and a big-horn sheep viewing station. Directions: Take I-70 to Georgetown, Exit 228

Echo Lake – This lake is a favorite family location. Complete with picnic grounds, shelters, restrooms, grills, vehicle access to Mt. Evan’s and trailheads for hiking into Wilderness, there’s something for everyone. Directions: From Exit 240 off of I-70 in Idaho Springs, take Hwy 103 south 13 miles to Hwy 5.

Clear Lake – Located up historic Guanella Pass, Clear Lake offers restrooms and designated camping areas nearby. Directions: From Georgetown, take Guanella Pass south 4.8 miles to Clear Lake.

Summit Lake – Directly below Mt. Evans, you can’t drive up much higher to a lake to fish than Summit Lake to fish. Restrooms, trailheads and scenic views are available. Requires Forest Service fee obtained at the entrance to Hwy 5. Directions: I-70 westbound, Idaho Springs exit #240 – Hwy 103. Drive 13 miles to the turn off for Highway 5, Mount Evans road. Proceed through the fee station and drive 9 miles south on Highway 5 to Summit Lake.

Backcountry Fishing – Hike into Solitude!

Clear Creek County offers quintessential high alpine lake fishing in Colorado. Check the weather forecast, pack accordingly (don’t forget the water bottle or rain coat!) and slip on the pack into Mt. Evan’s Wilderness and the Arapahoe National Forest for a day or more of solitude on the water!

Backpack in prepared to spend the night, and the Lake will probably be all yours in the evening and following morning. Spring or Fall can be particularly good times to fish, but be sure to check in at the local bait shop or the Forest Service Ranger Station to get details on weather and conditions.

Chicago Lakes – (Moderate hike) Located in Mt. Evans Wilderness, Chicago Lakes offer Rainbow and Cutthroat Trout that receive little pressure year-round. Best fishing is at the lower lake. Directions: From Idaho Springs, drive 13 miles south on Hwy 103 to Echo Lake. On the southwest side of Echo Lake, take the Chicago Lakes Trail #52 4.5 miles to the lakes.

Silver Dollar Lake – (Moderate hike) Located near scenic Guanella Pass, Silver Dollar is not a spot to be missed for Cutthroats. Hike is relatively short with a few challenging sections. Directions: From Georgetown, go 7 miles south on Guanella Pass Road to Guanella Pass Campground. This is a short hike yet the thin air and occasional steepness may be challenging. The trail leads to two lakes that are above treeline. The first lake, Naylor Lake is on private property. You may look, but please do not trespass. The second lake is Silver Dollar Lake and is for public use.

Hassell Lake – (Easy hike) Drive up to Urad Reservoir on this trip where you can wet a line for Brook, Brown and Rainbow Trout. If you are looking for a little more seclusion, Hassell Lake isn’t a far hike where Brook Trout cruise this shallow body of water. No camping at Urad Reservoir. Directions: From Empire go about 7 miles west to Berthoud Falls. Turn left at the sign for Jones Pass/Henderson Mine. Follow paved road to Woods Creek Road #146 turn left, drive 2 miles and park at Upper Urad Reservoir. Hike one-half mile northwest from the reservoir along tributary stream to Hassell Lake.

Lincoln Lake – (Difficult hike) Lincoln Lake offers your all-around challenge. A relatively long and winding hike followed by picky Rainbows. Go deep at Lincoln Lake for Lake Trout. Directions: From Idaho Springs, drive 13 miles south on Hwy 103 to Hwy 5. Park at the trailhead parking lot below Echo Lake Lodge. Take the Resthouse Meadow Trail #57 5 miles to Trail # 45 to Lincoln Lake.

Creek Fishing – The Heart of Clear Creek County!

Clear Creek has rebound since being the epicenter of gold and silver mining in Colorado during the late 1800’s. Beginning at the Continental Divide near Loveland Ski Area, Clear Creek meanders 33 miles through historic towns, mining structures, and the very place the Colorado gold rush began! Improvements to water quality over the last 30 years have turned Clear Creek into a viable fishery and a go-to destination for anglers chasing feisty Brown Trout.

Much of Clear Creek is open to public fishing, but some of it runs through private property. Please do not trespass. Access points to Clear Creek are as follows:

Clear Creek Canyon – Junction of Hwy 6 and Hwy 119. Public access is permitted upstream from the intersection on the north side of the Creek 3 miles to I-70. Access the creek by parking along a Hwy 6, away from the road.

The Tributary at 244 – (Formerly Kermitts Roadhouse) Junction of I-70 and Hwy 6. Parking is available across from the Restaurant. Access is permitted 1 mile to Hidden Valley at Exit 243 along I-70 using trail on south side of Creek. Parking is also available on south side of I-70 at Exit 243.

Courtney Riley Cooper Park – Take Exit 241 from I-70 into Idaho Springs. Park is located south of the Creek across from Safeway and the Idaho Springs Visitor Center. Public access is available the length of the park. Facilities include picnic tables, grills, restrooms and wheel chair accessible fishing pier.

Clear Creek Ranger District Office – Take I-70 to Exit 240 in Idaho Springs. Go south on Hwy 103 about one block to U.S. Forest Service Ranger Office and park. Access follows Creek in both directions about one mile from ranger office. Restrooms and picnic areas available. Additional parking available to the east at 17th Avenue and Idahoe Street in Idaho Springs.

Lawson Hole Whitewater Park – Take I-70 to Exit 243 in Dumont. Continue on County Rd 308 West on the north side of I-70. Follow CR 308 under highway and through Lawson. At the end of Lawson, make a left on Alvarado Rd and continue west about ¼ mile. Property is directly west of Mile Hi Rafting. Public access from Park west to U.S. Hwy 40.

Bakerville Loveland Trail – Take I-70 to Exit 221. Public access west 5 miles from Exit 221 to Loveland Ski Area, Exit 216.

Lake Fishing – Four-wheel drive a must!

There are numerous lakes accessible by 4-wheel drive roads with spectacular views in Clear Creek County. To navigate the roads, a high-clearance 4×4 vehicle is absolutely necessary. But be forewarned, while some appreciate the technical challenge of 4-wheel roads, damage to your vehicle is a possibility. Check in with the United States Forest Service Ranger Office in Idaho Springs (303) 567-3000 for details on conditions and opportunities. We do not accept liability for damage to vehicles on any trails, and encourage you to visit the Forest Service website for additional details on the following lakes:

Loch Lohmond Reservoir (provides short hike access to Reynolds and Steuart Lakes)
Fall River Reservoir (also provides short hike access to Slater Lake)

Chinn’s Lake (also provides short hike access to Sherwin Lake)

Bill Moore Lake (also provides short access hike to better fishing at Byron Lake)

Ice Fishing – Don’t wait for Summer!

Georgetown Lake – Brave the cold and pull Brown Trout through the ice on Georgetown Lake. Directions: Take I-70 to Georgetown, Exit 228

Types of Fish you May Find in Clear Creek County

Cutthroat Trout – GreenBack Cutthroat Trout was officially named the state fish of Colorado in 1994. They are rare and found in small mountain streams and lakes along Colorado’s Front Range. The Cutthroat (Oncorhynchus clarki) deserves to be state fish, as it is the only trout that is native (indigenous) to Colorado. It has a crimson slash on either side of the throat, below the lower jaw. The Greenback is a threatened species on both a state and federal level.

Rainbow Trout – The main fish stocked in Colorado, Courtesy Colorado Division of Wildlife. The Rainbow (Oncorhynchus mykiss) was introduced to Colorado in the 1880′s. It is identified by a reddish stripe running down the side of the fish, and by black spots. It was introduced in 1888 into the Gunnison River. They are native to the U.S., but not to Colorado. They spawn in the Spring. Record: The Colorado record for catching a Rainbow was in 2003 in Morrow Point Reservoir. The fish weighed 19 lbs, 10 oz.

Brown Trout – The Brown (Salmo trutta) was introduced to Colorado in 1890, and is native to Europe and Western Asia. It’s identifying marks are black spots, and reddish orange spots inside of light blue circles. They spawn in the fall. Record: The record Brown caught in Colorado was in 1988, 30 lbs, 8 oz., caught at Roaring Judy Ponds.

Brook Trout – The “brookie” (Salvelinus fontinalis) can basically outbreed the other species of fish, helped by its fall spawning. They were introduced to Colorado in 1872, and are native to Canada and the Eastern U.S. Their body is dark, with red and white spots within bluish circles. The pectoral, pelvic and anal fins can be orange, with black and white edges. Record: The record Brook caught in Colorado was in 1947, weighing 7 lbs, 10 oz. at Upper Cataract Lake.

Colorado fishing regulations

Click here to visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Page for more Information.