Bring the family for a true western experience and fish some of the finest cold water fishing that Colorado has to offer. These vacations are for the beginner as well as the experienced fisherman. If you would like to try fly fishing for the first time our guides will instruct and give pointers on fly casting, fly presentations and reading the water. Saddle up for an expedition into the Zirkel wilderness for some high country fly fishing, you will catch fish!
SLO operates under a special use permit from the United States Forest Service. We promote catch and release techniques, especially for our Colorado Cutthroat trout, the only trout native to the Colorado River drainage. SLO guides will educate and make aware the importance of preserving our natural resources and primitive wilderness for the future generations. Our staff is also committed to protect, preserve and practice low impact camping and travel in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness.
Pack Trips into the Mount Zirkel Wilderness area (minimum of 4 people)
Overnight Fishing Getaways - ride horseback to a remote mountain lake to spend the afternoon fishing; enjoy a wonderful meal camped on private property surrounded by National Forest, and fish on your way home the next day.
Click here to see fishing pictures!
Lakes & Fish
One of the three lakes in Colorado to carry a gold medal designation is Steamboat Lake. This lake is actually a reservoir, created in 1967-68, and covers 1053 acres. This stillwater offers not just great fishing, but also terrific camping, scenery, and plenty of other activities. This gold medal lake is a superb rainbow fishery with a healthy cutthroat population. A few brook trout may be found in the lake as they come in from the tributaries.
Pearl Lake is often one of the first lakes in the high country to lose its ice and provides a great opportunity to catch trophy class cutthroats and grayling. The north end of the lake near the inlets produces some of the best trout fishing on the lake. Nestled in the mountains north of Steamboat Springs, this peaceful park sits in a quiet and thick forest setting. Surrounded by towering pines, visitors camp along the lake and up a gentle hill, deep in the cozy woods. There's excellent fly and lure fishing for native cutthroat trout as they flash their red throats when pulled from the water. This is a true escape from the day-to-day routine. A trail takes visitors along the shoreline and leads them deep into the forest. Picnicking is picture perfect amongst the big trees that frame the lake.
State fish and game managers stock various strains of trout in these lakes, a process which must be repeated on an annual basis. Forest Service managers hope to phase out the stocking of non-native brook and rainbow trout in favor of indigenous cutthroats. According to biologists, it is possible that the hundreds of glacial lakes in Mount Zirkel never supported reproducing fisheries. However, since well over half of all visitors here fish, aerial stocking of these high mountain lakes will likely continue.
These fish were introduced in the 1880s and have become both the angler's favorite and the mainstay of Colorado's hatchery system (millions of catchable and subcatchable sized fish are stocked annually). Rainbows can be found in most mountain lakes and streams, as well as many plains reservoirs. Physical characteristics that can help distinguish rainbow trout include dark spots on a light body, continuous spotting throughout the body, and often a "rainbow" horizontal reddish stripe. Rainbow trout may be caught with a variety of flies, baits and lures.
Cutthroat (Native) Trout
Several subspecies of cutthroat trout are found in Colorado, of which three are native – the greenback, the Rio Grande and the Colorado. The range of these fish has decreased due to a variety of habitat factors, and extensive recovery efforts are underway by the Division of Wildlife. Cutthroat trout can be distinguished from rainbows by heavier spotting toward the tail and the presence of a red slash on their "throat." Anglers may find these trout in high lakes and streams.
These arctic imports provide some additional excitement to mountainous lakes. A large sail-like dorsal fin extending over their silver bodies make them easy to identify. Grayling have extremely small mouths and can usually only be caught on small flies or lures. Even though grayling are relatively small in stature (usually less than 12 inches), they can be a nice challenge to anglers, not to mention a great photo opportunity.
An entry to Colorado in the late 1800s, the brook trout feeds on aquatic and terrestrial insects and will rise to a large range of small lures, baits and flies. Brook trout have white spots (worm-shaped on top) on a dark background with tri-colored outlined fins (orange, black and white). This prolific fish often becomes overpopulated and can out-compete other trout. They are typically found in higher elevation lakes, beaver dams and streams.