Fishing Close to Home: Denver’s City Park

Ferril Lake with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in the background.

I park my car, gather my gear and take a short hike through the pine trees to the lake. I think I hear the rustling of wolves, just yards away. In the past I have heard them howl and caught glimpses of their ghostly white forms through the thick greenery. Further on, a crowd has gathered celebrating a wedding, the DJ’s music fills the air with love songs and hits from the past. Firefighters spray streams of water into the lake, why, I don’t know. A technicolor fountain shoots dancing water into the air, moving to a rhythm all its own. Dogs and joggers are everywhere. Is this a dream? Nope. It’s just a typical night in Denver’s City Park.

I came to fish Ferril Lake which lies in the center of the park. It’s a beautiful setting with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science on one end and the pavillion, bandstand and boatdock on the other. The wolves are yards away at the zoo. Peacock calls pierce the evening’s soundtrack. For over 120 years, thousands of people have come to this area of the park to enjoy concerts from the bandstand, have lunch at the pavillion, bird watch at Duck Lake or to fish Ferril Lake.

The Electric Fountain in Ferril Lake

One feature that makes fishing the lake unique is casting your lures to the backdrop of the Electric Fountain. Designed by the Electric Fountain Company of America in 1908, the fountain was dedicated by then-mayor Robert Spear on Memorial Day of that year. However, by the 1970s, the fountain had fallen into disrepair and it wasn’t until a 2007 renovation that the dancing water and lights could thrill park visitors again.

I have a successful night fishing, one bass and a crawdad. But the crawdad posed better for the camera than the bass.  I fish for about an hour, staying longer than the sunlight. The wedding DJ plays “What I Like About You” by The Romantics. That sure kills the fishing vibe and signals the end of my excursion.

I needed a relaxing getaway and I found it, less than a mile away from my house. I’ll be back.

Ferril Lake in City Park

Location: North of 17th Ave. and west of Colorado Blvd. Parking area on the northwest side of the lake between the park and the Denver Zoo.

Size: 25 acres

Depth: 8 feet maximum

Perimeter: 0.8 miles

Fish: Bluegill, bullhead, carp, channel catfish, crappie, gizzard shad, green sunfish, largemouth bass, yellow perch and rainbow trout (catchable-size, stocked in spring).

Other lakes in City Park: Duck Lake, 6.3 acres, 0.4 miles; Sediment Pond, 2 acres, 0.17 miles; Children’s Zoo Lake, 1 acre, 0.17 miles.

Agency: Denver Parks and Recreation

Comments: Open 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. No boats. No fishing from rental paddleboats. Picnic sites and restrooms. Hard-surface foot trail around lake.

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