Fishing the ‘Burbs: Small Suburban Ponds Offer Big Fun for Anglers

Although Colorado’s big lakes and reservoirs get most of the angling attention and accolades, small suburban lakes and ponds often boast great fishing and provide hours of close-to-home fun.
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Most suburban ponds have good populations of small bluegills, sunfish and other warm-water species.

Although Colorado’s big lakes and reservoirs get most of the angling attention and accolades, small suburban lakes and ponds often boast great fishing and provide hours of close-to-home fun.

Conveniently located in neighborhood parks and greenbelts, these easy-to-access waters are great places to unwind after a long day of work or to simply find a little solitude without venturing too far off the beaten path.

They are also the perfect locations to take kids fishing. In fact, some of my earliest (and fondest) memories of fishing with my dad took place at ponds in the Lakewood, Golden and Wheat Ridge areas.

At a particular pond near my dad’s apartment home, I remember catching fish nearly every cast on my little Zebco rod/reel combo. As a 5-year-old boy, there was nothing more thrilling than seeing a bluegill or bass pull my red and white bobber under the surface. I also remember the fun of catching my own grasshoppers and worms to use as bait. In addition to providing an enjoyable father/son activity, it was these early experiences that played an important role in developing my lifelong passion for fishing and the outdoors.

Although I’m in my early 40s now (just a bigger kid really), the thrill of fishing small ponds is the same. I still get excited when a bluegill, bass or a big carp tugs on the end of my line. These days, however, I’ve traded the Zebco, bobber and worms for a fly rod and box of dry flies. Bluegills and bass smack foam hoppers and other high-floating dry flies so violently that fishing for these species, regardless of their size, keeps me casting for hours.

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Many of my first fishing trips were to suburban lakes and ponds. My dad took this photo after a successful afternoon at Lions Park in Golden.
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As an adult, I still enjoy fishin’ the ‘burbs, especially with my fly rod.
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Small bluegills are big fun on a fly rod or light-weight spinning gear.
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Foam hoppers work great for most warm-water fish.

If you don’t know how to fly fish, no worries. A simple, light-weight spinning rod and a few lures is all you need to catch fish in the ‘burbs. Crankbaits, spinnerbaits, plastic worms and topwater plugs all work well for bass. A quick visit to your local sporting goods store will get you up and running with all the necessary tackle and lures — just tell the store clerk that you’re looking for an assortment of bass lures for fishing small waters.

For bluegills and sunfish, smaller lures, spinners and jigs work best. Bait fishing with worms, grasshoppers, mealworms and crickets suspended beneath a bobber is also a great option, especially for kids. Beware: Bluegills are infamous bait-thieves. These little guys have a knack of stealing the bait while completely missing the hook. Therefore, it’s important to use a smaller-sized hook, otherwise you’ll spend all your time feeding the fish instead of catching them. A size #10 baitholder hook is recommended for bluegills. See this Colorado Outdoors “Quick Tip” video for bait fishing techniques.

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Brothers enjoy an evening of fishing at Grandview Ponds in Thornton.
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In addition to fishing, suburban ponds offer a convenient, close-to-home location to relax and connect with nature.
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An angler shows off his favorite topwater bass lure at Grandview Ponds.

Best of all, there are literally hundreds of small ponds, gravel pits and golf-course lakes throughout Colorado’s Front Range that hold fish. Despite their abundance, however, it’s important to do some scouting to determine which waters offer both public access and good fishing. To improve your chances of success, Colorado Parks and Wildlife stocks many of these neighborhood waters with a variety of warm-water fish. CPW also stocks some locations with catchable-size rainbow trout when water temperatures are cooler in early spring and late fall.

The Colorado Fishing Atlas and CPW’s stocking reports are great resources to help you plan your suburban fishing trip. Google Maps/Earth is also an excellent resource that provides aerial views to help you locate waters in your area. In addition to using these online tools to find your own favorite fishing hole, here are a few locations to get you started this summer:

1) Cottonwood Park Lake
2) Johnson Reservoir
3) Lowell Ponds in Lowell State Wildlife Area (the easternmost pond and the westernmost pond)
4) Grandview Ponds
5) Bear Creek Ponds
6) Blue Heron Lake
7) Cherry Knolls Pond
8) Kettering Lake
9) Thornton Recreation Center Lake
10) Spratt-Platte Reservoir

For a complete guide to fishing lakes and ponds in the Denver metro area, see “Denver Metro Fishing” in the 2017 Colorado Outdoors Fishing Guide. Individual copies of the magazine or annual subscriptions are available HERE.

Blog post by Jerry Neal. Neal is an information/marketing specialist and videographer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. He is also the editor of Colorado Outdoors Online.

3 Responses

  1. Great post, Jerry. It reminded me of growing up on a mill pond in central Wisconsin. I had a Zebco 202 just like the one you’re holding. I even had red and white pants in that plaid pattern (some things never go out of style.) Keep up the great work!

    1. Kurt,

      Glad you enjoyed this post and thanks for your comments. I always laugh when I see those pants. What was my mom thinking? Gotta love the 70s clothing styles. Tight lines to you this summer.

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