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Fly Fishing in Steamboat

The Yampa Valley boasts some of the best fly fishing in Colorado, so even if you’ve never tried it before, now’s your chance. Here are our tips for getting on the water. Please keep in mind that there may be river closures during the warm summer months that will impact fishing, even with a guide.


For the most convenient fly fishing Steamboat has to offer, try the miles of catch-and-release water on the Yampa River that runs right through the heart of town. Anglers hesitate to cast a line the middle of a town for fear that the fishing might not be any good with so many people around, but nothing could be farther from the truth in Steamboat. The town stretch has excellent trout and pike fishing. Just be aware that you will likely be sharing the water with tubers, rafters, and kayakers!


Steamboat is home to many reputable guiding companies, all of whom can provide valuable insight and lessons on how to fish successfully in this region. For novice anglers or those unfamiliar with the area, these guided trips can make all the difference for a successful day on the water. The guiding companies can take trips out on any of the public water listed above, as well as a large amount of private water that in inaccessible without a guide. Here’s who we suggest:


There are quite a few state parks within an hour drive of downtown Steamboat, and all of them provide excellent and diverse fishing opportunities:

  • Stagecoach State Park – This is the closest park to Steamboat and is an incredible fishery! The reservoir is very fishable from shore, but the marina also rents boats for those looking to explore more water. In the reservoir, you can catch rainbow trout and northern pike. The state record pike was caught here, so you have a chance at a trophy! The tailwater is a .7 mile stretch of catch-and-release only river below the damn. This section has become the premier stretch of the Yampa to catch rainbow, brown, and brook trout.
  • Steamboat Lake & Peak Lake State Park – These two lakes are about 45 minutes to the north of Steamboat. Both offer excellent opportunities at catching good-sized trout, and are well worth the drive out of town! In addition, Pearl Lake has a population of arctic grayling, which is a rare and hard-fighting sportfish. The shore fishing is excellent but you can take boats on both lakes (Pearl is completely wakeless).
  • Yampa River State Park – This park provides fly fisherman the chance to catch a variety of species on the western stretch of the Yampa. In this part of the river, anglers can find trout, northern pike, smallmouth bass, and even the occasional catfish. 45 minutes west of Steamboat, this park gives fly fishers the chance to catch great fish in a river setting.


For a more intimate nature experience, fly fishers can explore several state wildlife areas around Steamboat. Unlike state parks, these are free to access and tend to be a little less crowded.

  • Sarvis Creek SWA – This wildlife area offers excellent trout fishing on the upper Yampa River as well as Sarvis Creek and is only 25 minutes from town. Here anglers can find large populations of brown, rainbow, and brook trout.
  • Christina SWA – This is the easiest and most convenient area to try your luck on the beautiful Elk River. Only 10 minutes from town, anglers can find great fishing for rainbow trout and the occasional brown.
  • Chuck Lewis SWA – The closest wildlife area to Steamboat, Chuck Lewis offers a large stretch of the Yampa to anglers looking for that trophy trout. The browns and rainbows are big and abundant here and can be reached with only a 5-minute drive to the south out of town.