Welcome to ThinkVail – we hope you find this article about ice fishing near Vail, CO helpful.
Colorado is known for its world-class skiing and champagne powder snow, but don’t overlook the exceptional ice fishing near Vail, Colorado. If you’re searching for a winter adventure you’ll never forget, this is sure to be it.
Whether you’re an experienced angler or a family looking for something fun, the western slope of Colorado will not disappoint. If your experienced, you know what to expect, if it’s your first time or new to the sport, look into hiring a guide for a fun, comfortable, successful day on the ice.
Ice fishing is a demanding activity, which generally means you need a lot of gear, and you do. Aside from warm, winter clothing you will need insulated boots, fishing gear, the right bait, a fishing license, an augur, a tent or warming hut, folding chairs, a cooler, snacks, a heater, maybe a fish finder and a snowmobile for easy access.
Finally, it is also important to understand the the condition of the ice to keep you and your family or friends from falling through especially early season and in the spring. Unless you have all of this equipment, and knowledge hiring an ice fishing guide for the day, is the way to go.
Black Lakes -Located on top of Vail Pass, this two lakes lie in a very scenic location and boast lots of stocked, above average sized, catchable trout. The lakes are just a short distance down the Vail Pass / Tenmile Canyon National Recreation Trail from the Vail Pass Rest Area but it can be an adventure getting to the lakes if the snow is deep. Pay fee at the ranger station before ice fishing. Black Lakes is a great for early season as ice forms earlier at higher elevations.
Directions: Travel east from Vail on I-70 to exit 190 for the Vail Pass Rest Area. Turn right at the end of the ramp and right again before entering the Shrine Pass Road.
For the latest on Black Lakes ice conditions and other fishing information, contact White River National Forest at 970-945-252
Nottingham Lake – This small, scenic lake is located on the west-end of Avon, Colorado on Lake Street at the Harry A. Nottingham Park. The 15-acre lake is stocked with some big Rainbow and Cutthroat Trout. It is a local favorite and sits close to a variety of shops, restaurants and a recreation path surrounds the lake. Ice fishing is weather dependent and the weather can change quickly here so always check that the ice is thick enough as the ice here can melt quickly, especially in the spring.
For the latest on Nottingham Lake ice conditions and other fishing information, contact the Avon Recreation District at 970-748-4060
Wilmore Lake – This small gem of a lake is located right off Interstate 70 at the rest stop (heading west) between Edwards and Wolcott. This spring-fed lake contains plenty of rainbow trout. It is usually a reliable place to ice fish but it can freeze up solid during particularly cold winters.
Sylvan Lake – This superstar of a lake is located just 15 miles south of Eagle, Colorado. With a newly renovated dam and subsequent restocking of trout, this is an amazing ice fishing destination. To reach this scenic 42-acre lake, head south of Eagle on Brush Creek Road for 9 miles until you reach the Sylvan Lake State Park Visitors Center, from there, stay right and travel 5 miles to Sylvan Lake. Located in the heart of White River National Forest and surrounded by stunning red cliffs this lake boats an abundant variety of rainbow, cutthroat, brook and brown trout.
For the latest on Sylvan Lake ice conditions and other fishing information, contact Colorado Parks & Wildlife at 970-328-2021
Gypsum Ponds State Wildlife Area – is located adjacent to Interstate 70 in the town of Gypsum and boasts almost 90-acres of marshland and ponds along the Eagle River. It is a conveniently accessible ice fishing destination for all types of anglers. The nearby parking area allows ice anglers easy access to their car or truck for a quick warm up or to bring a picnic to the ice. The Ponds in Gypsum are stocked with rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, bluegill, crappie, yellow perch, and small-mouth bass so you never know what you will pull up through the ice!
For the latest on Gypsum Ponds ice conditions and other fishing information, contact Colorado Parks & Wildlife at 970-947-2920
Sweetwater Lake – Travel 7 miles north of Dotsero off of I-70 on Colorado River Road to Sweetwater Creek Road. Take a left, westbound, on this state maintained dirt road for 10 miles, then turn left onto Sweetwater Road. Canoes and rowboats are allowed, there is no public boat ramp. As for the fishing, brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, and kokanee salmon have all been caught here. Sweetwater Lake is a fisherman’s dream.
For the latest on Sweetwater Lake ice conditions and other fishing information, contact the White River National Forest at 970-945-2521
This high mountain lake spans 3,300 acres, sits at an elevation just over 9,000 feet and is known as one of the most beautiful reservoirs in the Rockies. It boasts a variety of rainbow trout, brown trout, arctic char, and kokanee salmon. It is one of only two reservoirs in the lower 48 that has arctic char and boasts the only known naturally occurring kokanee salmon run. Go with a local licensed guide and they will provide all the equipment you need to stay warm, comfortable while guaranteeing the best chance at catching lots of fish.
For the latest on Lake Dillon ice conditions & other fishing information, contact Town of Dillon Marina at 970-468-5100.
Snake River Inlet
Located near Lake Dillon, the Snake River inlet is known as one of the best places to ice fish early because the lake’s shallow waters freeze while Kokanee salmon spawn. The annual Kokanee salmon run in late November and into early December and draws big crowds of anglers. The Snake River inlet offers easy walk-on access and the water only goes about 19 feet deep. The limit is 10 kokanee, no snag fishing and follow all Colorado Parks and Wildlife regulations.
Located off of Interstate 70 halfway between Frisco and Copper Mountain, Officer’s Gulch’s is a small pond stocked with brook and tiger and cutthroat trout each year. Access is from westbound I-70. Look for the Officers Gulch rest area sign as well as the broad turnout just before the Copper Mountain exit. Ample parking, easy hike to the lake and convenient location right off I-70 makes this a popular spot.
Harvey Gap Reservoir – A lovely 190-acre lake that is a favorite for winter anglers. It sits in the high-plains of Garfield County with Grand Hogback mountain range just south of the lake, so ice fishermen enjoy a great view. Located close to Rifle, CO and about 30 minutes west of Glenwood Springs, CO this reservoir offers yellow perch, rainbow trout, brown trout and a variety of other fish species such as catfish, large mouth and small mouth bass, perch, crappie, rainbow trout and northern pike. The deeper sections of the lake generally enjoys more perch catches.
For the latest on ice conditions & other fishing information, contact Harvey Gap State Park at 970-625-1607.
Twin Lakes Reservoir– This stunning lake is nestled at the base of Colorado’s tallest peak, Mt Elbert. It consists of two lakes for a surface area of over 2,700 acres that is ideal for ice fishing. Located just 20 minutes from Leadville in Chaffee County. This unique reservoir boasts rainbow trout, brown trout, lake trout, longnose sucker, snakeriver cutthroat and white sucker fish varieties.
Every winter anglers flock to the Leadville Rod and Gun Club’s annual February Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby, the two bodies of water combine for 2,700 acres of lake trout bliss at the base of Mt. Elbert, Colorado’s tallest peak.
For the latest on Twin Lakes Reservoir ice conditions & other fishing information, contact the Leadville Chamber at 888-LEADVILLE
Steamboat Springs, CO
Steamboat Lake – is located in Steamboat Lake State Park, a premier park in Routt County with breathtaking views of Hahn’s Peak. Winter comes alive here with exceptional ice fishing under snow-capped mountains. Ice fishing is welcomed her but take note, ice conditions can change quickly and dramatically know how to judge ice conditions or check in with a knowledgeable fishing guide to ensure conditions are safe
For the latest on Steamboat Lake ice conditions & other fishing information, contact Colorado Parks & Wildlife at 970-870-2197
Stagecoach Reservoir – An 820-acre lake that is perfect for your next ice fishing adventure because it is stocked with a large population of 3-5lb. trout as well as stocker-sized rainbows and other prized ice fishing species like the Northern Pike. Located in Stagecoach State Park and only 17 miles from Steamboat Springs, Stagecoach is also home of the Stagecoach Reservoir Ice Fishing Tournament where you can watch anglers wrangle monster trout or pike to take home the prize.
For the latest on Stagecoach Reservoir ice conditions & other fishing information, contact Colorado Parks & Wildlife at 970-870-2197
Ice fishing is a very challenging and strenuous activity. From hiking to the lake, auguring the holes, setting up the gear, deciding the correct tackle and bait to use and keeping warm on the ice during the Colorado winter, ice fishing is no easy task. Which is why we highly recommend hiring a guide for a truly fun, and successful day on the ice.
Most guided trips usually run from Thanksgiving through the middle of April. Additionally, guides generally provides a warming hut with heaters, gear, tackle, bait and ice fishing sonars. Many utilize snowmobiles so you don’t need walk to the fishing spot. Outfitters are familiar with different access points and give you a much higher chance of catching large fish to bring home for dinner! Finally, most companies offer a variety of different trips depending on age, mobility, and experience levels.
Here are some professional, local companies that have been in the business for years and know what they are doing:
We hope you found this article about where to ice fish near Vail, Colorado helpful. Please let us know if you have a favorite ice fishing spot you would like to share or any tips to help people enjoy their day on the ice. We look forward to hearing your thoughts comments and stories.
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