Fishing Ouray County

Colorado is famous for its breathtaking scenery and charming mountain towns. But there may be none more spectacular and beautiful than the town of Ouray.
Fall in Ouray County
Fall in Ouray County.

Colorado is famous for its breathtaking scenery and charming mountain towns. But there may be none more spectacular and beautiful than the town of Ouray.

Nestled in southwestern Colorado, Ouray is commonly referred to as the “Switzerland of America.” Rugged, snow-capped peaks and postcard-worthy scenery surround the quaint, mountain village, making it one of Colorado’s most popular destinations.

Although best known for its spectacular scenery, Ouray also plays host to exceptional fishing. From the deep canyon pools and gently braided runs of local rivers, to high country lakes and magnificent reservoirs, Ouray County offers anglers of all ages and ability levels a chance to participate in some of Colorado’s finest angling opportunities.

Fly fishermen, spin casters and bait fishermen alike, all have locations where they can enjoy casting to the region’s diverse selection of fish. Rainbow, brown, cutthroat and brook trout, as well as the occasional kokanee salmon, all can be found within a short drive from Ouray. Throughout the summer, excellent access to the high country offers anglers unparalleled beauty and incredible insect hatches. Eager fish, crashing the water’s surface for aquatic insects, are sure to keep your attention.

So whether you’re looking for a fun and relaxing place to take the family, or you’re in search of remote and productive trout waters, the region offers something for everyone.

Here’s a summary of some of the county’s better options for wetting a line:

Uncompahgre River

Uncompahgre River brown trout
An Uncompahgre River brown.

Although the section of the Uncompahgre River through the city of Ouray is too turbulent for productive fishing, a bit further downstream offers gentle and easily accessible waters. The Pa-Co-Chu-Puk and Dallas Creek areas, within Ridgway State Park, offer classic tailwater river fishing, small creeks and stocked ponds the whole family can enjoy. Access here is excellent for anglers of all ability levels, including those with disabilities.

Ridgway Reservoir

Clouds reflect off the surface of Ridgway Reservoir
Clouds reflect off the surface of Ridgway Reservoir. Photo by © Ken Papaleo/CPW.
  • Dutch Charlie Area: Enjoy great shoreline fishing, especially on the south shore of this cove, where it opens out into the main body of the reservoir.  It’s close to picnicking sites, a playground and a modern, universally accessible fishing pier.
  • Dallas Creek Day Use Area: Highlights include a long shoreline for river or reservoir fishing with convenient drive-up areas and parking spaces.  The best fishing is often found where the Uncompahgre River empties into the main body of the reservoir. Kokanee salmon gather here during their autumn spawning run.

Cimarron River & Silver Jack Reservoir

The Cimarron River offers great angling opportunities for Cutthroat, Rainbow and Brook Trout. This often overlooked fishery provides excellent dry fly-fishing throughout the year. Anglers who prefer tailwater fishing can target the river just below Silver Jack Reservoir. In addition, the forks of the Cimarron River offer incredibly scenic fishing in the Big Blue Wilderness Area. A variety of hiking trails also provide easy access to several high-alpine lakes.

Various Creeks and High-Mountain Lakes

  • Dallas Creek: This large feeder creek flows into Ridgway State Park Reservoir and is home to an excellent trout population. Access is limited.
  • Canyon Creek: One of the few good streams in the Ouray area for fly fishers. Both brook and rainbow trout are found here.
  • Cow Creek: Upper Cow Creek offers excellent opportunities for those seeking solitude. However, access can be difficult (bushwhacking required). But the tougher the terrain, the bigger the trout.
  • Crystal Lake: Located just a few miles from Ouray up Red Mountain Pass, this crystal-clear, spring-fed pond offers excellent dry fly-fishing.

Blue Lakes

These three lakes sit at an elevation of approximately 11,000 feet with stunning views and some nice-sized trout as an added benefit. Unfortunately, access to these beautiful lakes is accomplished only by hiking 4 miles into the Mt. Sneffels Wilderness Area on TR #201. The three lakes range from 6 to 16 acres in size. Be prepared for all types of conditions, as the weather can change rapidly at this altitude.

For further information and directions to these locations, be sure to check out the Colorado Fishing Atlas.

One Response

  1. Blue lakes is a fun area with great fishing! I think the best part about it is the hike in. It makes the experience that much better. At the time it might not be fun, but after you get back and think about it you never regret a long hike in.

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