How To Find The Best Winter Trout Fishing in Colorado (and what to bring)

Planning a winter fly fishing trip in Colorado? You’re in for some of the most beautiful winter fly fishing North America has to offer.

Here’s how to find the best winter trout fishing in Colorado

  • Planning your trip
  • Booking flights and finding lodging
  • What should I pack for a winter fly fishing trip?

If you’ve done a winter fly fishing trip before, chances are, you’ve already got a solid list.  But if you’ve never done a trip before, this will help you.

The biggest part of a trip is preparation, in this article I first discussed all about how to get ready for the trip, and at the end I wrote about some gear you might want.

If you already know what you are doing for your next Colorado winter fishing trip, I did a write up on some gear that’ll help you out called the winter fly fishing gear checklist.  Might be worth the read before you head out.

How To Find The Best Winter Trout Fishing in Colorado 

Planning your trip

First off, you’ll want to know what you plan on doing for a base, camping? Lodging it? Hotels? What is your plan there.  Personally I love camping and I’m planning on doing that until I’m an old buck with a little soft spot for a warm cozy bed in the mountains.

You’ll want to plan a trip according to the time you’ll have in the mountains, this is important.  You don’t want to get out there and realize that you’ll be short on time to hit all the rivers and creeks that you were looking at.

Finding Fishing Rivers and Creeks

Speaking of rivers and creeks, here is how to find them.  Go set up an OnX and get the subscription for Colorado.  It’s like 30 bucks for an entire year so it’s not that expensive.  Otherwise, go on google maps and find roads with rivers and creeks near the roads.  This is going to be the most painstaking part, but it’s part of the fun!  Look for areas that you can access and what you can’t (this is where OnX can be helpful, it shows public/ private lines and access points).

When you are looking for rivers and creeks, it’s going to be impossible know where the fish are going to be.  But, if you find an area where you have enough fishing spots for a week, you’ll be giving yourself at least the chance to find more fish.

Food and water

When you go out to Colorado, you’ll want to make sure you plan to have the right away amount of food.  This is important because if you know how much food you are going to be needing, all you have to do is buy the food and get out to the rivers.  You don’t want to spend too much time looking for food and wasting time while you are there.  You want to already know what you’re buying and hit the rivers.  And if you are just planning on eating the fish you catch, well, let’s just say I respect the swagger.

Speaking of food, how are you going to be making it?  Are you going to be building a fire?  or bringing a tiny propane grill setup?  I use this Coleman Grill for making food in the wilderness myself.  It has two burners and a wind shield.

For liquid, I suggest getting a Jetboil if you don’t already have one.  These things are incredible for heating up liquid in no time flat.  I love mine from the bottom of my heart and will never go camping/ fishing/ hunting without one.  Seriously.


Budget is going to be important also, trips like these most times end up being expensive.  You’ll need licenses, car (if you’re renting), gas, food, lodging (if you aren’t camping), warm gear, and when you get up there you’ll probably find that you’ll want extra flies or survival packs for insurance if you find yourself in a tough spot.


Keep survival in mind, seriously don’t take this lightly.  Especially if you are going to be going way upstream.  Anything can happen out there, and the last thing you want to do is freeze to death because you slipped in the river, broke and ankle and had no way of getting access to heat right away.  If you know that you’ll be going far, I’d suggest buying a nice survival pack.  It might seem expensive now but sometimes the price of life is far more precious.

Booking flights and lodging

This personally is my least favorite part, I like to look at all the rivers and buy all the cool stuff for the trip.  Not look for flights and lodges, hotels, or camping locations.  I like to know as much as I can before I head out.  In saying that although, you’ll probably be surprised when you get out to the mountains.  Anything can pop up so if you know as much as you can before you go out, it’ll help in the long run.


When you are looking for your flights I would suggest looking out further in advance and adjust the range of days to when you’ll be leaving and coming back.  The further out you look for tickets, the more fluid you can be with your schedule.  If you have a rough estimate of going out for seven days but don’t have the dates set right away, it’ll give you freedom to find those cheaper tickets.

Keep in mind, the more you continue looking at that site with those dates, the tickets will start to go up.  So maybe look on one device and buy the tickets on another?? Haha flight hacks.

Also, realize how much room you’ll have to bring gear with.  All airlines are going to be different and prices are going to vary with extra bags.  Make sure you know that all your stuff is going to be on the flight.

Lodging/ Camping

For lodging, this one is simple.  When you find the area that you want to fish in, just find a lodge in the area.  Book it after you’ve ordered your plane tickets so the dates will go hand in hand (duh).  All lodges are going to offer different features so if you have a couple in the area, pick one that will suit your wants and needs.

If you are camping, find a site that will suit your needs in the area.  This one is also very simple, just make sure to be in the area of where you will be fishing.

What gear should you bring?

You must plan your gear setup, will you have the right winter gear?  And enough pairs to get you through a week of fishing?  I’ve been on fishing and hunting trips where I didn’t bring the right amount of gear, and I was cold on the third day.  Don’t over look this part, especially if you have no access to drying your clothes.

Besides actual apparel you obviously will need extra stuff, fly rods, camping gear, and survival gear.  I have articles written for all of these if you are looking for more in depth information, I don’t want to bore you if you are set.

Otherwise, I only have two suggestions for you.  One is for your feet, and the other is base layer.  These are both key, you’ll need warm feet and a warm body on the river.

Buy a nice pair of boots


Korkers Wading BootsIf you read the winter gear checklist, these boots are on there for two reasons.

First, you can swap out the soles quickly (only downfall, they don’t come with studded soles).  Two, is that they are a quality pair of boots, especially if you are on a budget.

The studded soles are nice for grip in the river.  I would suggest getting them.

Buy the boots.

Get the studded soles.

My recommendation here is buy them bigger. My summer boots are 1x bigger than my normal shoe size and they fit perfectly. For winter fly fishing boots, you can still get away with 1x bigger (some fishermen do 1.5x) if you’re careful on your sock size. The river is cold, buy your boots ahead of time and try out several options with time to return prior to the trip.

Buy good base layer

I won’t waste your time here, the base layer bottom (pictured, to the left) you will probably want ($50) is by Drake and used by waterfowl hunters everywhere. You also can’t go wrong with 3.0 by Under Armour.

For a base layer top, I like the 3.0 by Under Armour. It’s probably one of the better options out there for those of you on a (sort of) budget.

When it comes to warmth I don’t worry about my spending too much, I like to enjoy myself on the river.



In the end you are going to have a blast

The process of getting out to Colorado for a nice fishing trip in the winter time is an awesome.  Every time I get the chance the plan a new trip I always become excited with the process.  I can smell the fire wood burning and the taste of fresh fish squeezing juices into my mouth.  There is nothing like it.  I hope this article helped you out, good luck!


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