Golden Trout Fishing in Colorado – A Guide to Catching the Elusive Gems

  • Updated August 5th, 2023

Nestled amidst the breathtaking landscapes of Colorado’s high-altitude alpine lakes and pristine streams, golden trout fishing offers an unforgettable angling experience for both seasoned anglers and adventurous beginners. The allure of these vibrant, golden-hued gems draws anglers from far and wide to test their skills in the challenging and rewarding pursuit of catching these elusive beauties. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the wonders of golden trout fishing in Colorado, from the best locations to fish for these prized species to valuable tips for a successful angling expedition.

Golden Trout Fishing in Colorado

The Fascinating World of Golden Trout

Golden trout, scientifically known as Oncorhynchus aguabonita, are a rare and highly sought-after species renowned for their strikingly vibrant coloration. Native to the high-altitude streams and lakes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, golden trout were introduced to select Colorado waters in the early 20th century, offering anglers in the state a unique opportunity to target these stunning fish.

Featuring a stunning golden-yellow body with pink to red lateral bands and a speckled pattern, golden trout are truly a sight to behold. Their beauty is matched only by the thrill of catching one, as they are known for their elusive nature and their preference for cold, clear waters at elevations above 9,000 feet.

Best Locations for Golden Trout Fishing in Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is a golden trout fishing paradise, offering numerous high-altitude lakes and streams where anglers can try their luck. Some of the top locations for golden trout fishing in the park include:

Lake Nanita:

Accessible via the Fourth Lake Trail, Lake Nanita is a prime spot for golden trout fishing. The stunning scenery surrounding the lake adds to the overall angling experience.  Direction on Google Maps.

Lake Verna:

Located in the Forest Canyon area, Lake Verna is another excellent location for golden trout fishing. The hike to the lake may be challenging, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Direction on Google Maps.

Haynach Lake:

Accessible via the Haynach Lake Trail, this remote lake is home to healthy populations of golden trout, making it a must-visit destination for anglers seeking a true wilderness experience. Direction on Google Maps. 

Holy Cross Wilderness Area

The Holy Cross Wilderness Area is another hotspot for golden trout fishing in Colorado. Some of the top locations within the wilderness area include:

Fancy Lake:

A picturesque alpine lake, Fancy Lake is known for its golden trout population. The hike to the lake can be strenuous, but the serene beauty of the lake and the thrill of catching golden trout make it all worthwhile. Direction on Google Maps. 

Fulford Cave Campground:

The lakes in this area, including Lake Charles and Lake Fulford, offer excellent opportunities for golden trout fishing. The campground serves as an excellent base for anglers exploring the surrounding waters. Direction on Google Maps.

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area

The Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, and it also offers some fantastic golden trout fishing opportunities. Notable locations include:

Pine Creek:

The upper section of Pine Creek is known for its golden trout population, making it a favorite among anglers seeking a unique fishing experience. Direction on Google Maps.

Lost Lake:

Tucked away in a secluded valley, Lost Lake is home to golden trout and offers a peaceful and serene fishing environment. Direction on Google Maps.

Indian Peaks Wilderness Area

The Indian Peaks Wilderness Area is famous for its rugged beauty and high-alpine lakes, making it an ideal destination for golden trout fishing. Some notable locations include:

Lake Isabelle:

A popular and easily accessible destination, Lake Isabelle is home to golden trout and offers stunning views of the surrounding peaks. Direction on Google Maps.

Blue Lake:

A beautiful and remote lake, Blue Lake is a hidden gem for anglers seeking solitude and the chance to catch golden trout. Direction on Google Maps.

Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area

The Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area is known for its high-altitude lakes and stunning landscapes, providing a unique fishing experience for anglers targeting golden trout. Notable locations include:

South Colony Lakes:

The South Colony Lakes are a series of high-altitude lakes known for their golden trout population. The hike to the lakes can be challenging, but the rewards are immense for those willing to make the journey. Direction on Google Maps.

Venable Lakes:

Located in a picturesque valley, Venable Lakes offer excellent fishing opportunities for golden trout amidst stunning natural beauty. Direction on Google Maps. 

Best Baits and Lures for Golden Trout

Golden trout have diverse feeding habits, allowing anglers to use a variety of baits and lures to entice them. Here are some effective baits and lures to consider:


  • Nightcrawlers: Live nightcrawlers are a favorite bait for golden trout. Rig them on a small hook and fish them near the lake’s bottom.
  • Salmon Eggs: Natural salmon eggs are another excellent choice for golden trout. Use them on a single hook or as an addition to a spinner or lure.
  • PowerBait: Scented dough baits like PowerBait can be effective for enticing golden trout, especially in stocked lakes.


  • Spinners: Small spinners in gold, silver, or flashy colors can mimic the natural shine of golden trout’s scales, making them irresistible targets.
  • Spoons: Lightweight spoons in metallic finishes can imitate baitfish and draw the attention of hungry golden trout.
  • Fly Fishing: Golden trout are avid insect feeders, making fly fishing an exciting and effective method to catch them. Dry flies, nymphs, and streamers in appropriate sizes and colors can yield success.


Tips for a Successful Golden Trout Fishing Experience

  1. Research the Location: Familiarize yourself with the fishing regulations, access points, and trail conditions for your chosen fishing location.
  2. Be Stealthy: Golden trout are easily spooked by noise and movement. Approach the water quietly and use caution to avoid scaring them away.
  3. Time Your Fishing: Early morning and late afternoon are usually the best times to catch golden trout when they are more active and feeding.
  4. Pack Light: Golden trout fishing often involves hiking to remote locations. Carry only the essential gear and travel light to enhance your mobility and comfort.
  5. Practice Patience: Golden trout can be cautious feeders. Be patient and persistent, as it may take time for them to bite.

Golden Trout Fishing Calendar

The best time for golden trout fishing in Colorado typically falls between late spring and early fall when the high-altitude lakes and streams are accessible and the trout are most active. Here’s a rough guide to the golden trout fishing calendar:

  • Late Spring (May – June): As the ice melts, golden trout become more active and start feeding aggressively. Fishing can be excellent during this period.
  • Summer (July – August): Summertime offers the most favorable fishing conditions, with warm temperatures and calmer waters. Early mornings and late afternoons are ideal fishing times.
  • Early Fall (September – October): As temperatures begin to drop, golden trout prepare for winter. Fishing can remain productive, but weather conditions can become more unpredictable.

Final Thoughts:

Golden trout fishing in Colorado is an extraordinary adventure that offers anglers the chance to fish for these stunning and elusive gems in some of the most picturesque alpine landscapes. With the right gear, preparation, and techniques, you can increase your chances of hooking into these prized fish. Always remember to practice responsible angling, respect nature, and embrace the thrill of catching golden trout amidst the tranquil beauty of Colorado’s wilderness.