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What is a “Gold Medal” Fishing Section in Colorado

gold medal fly fishing colorado

Gold Medal fishing areas have been designated by the Colorado Wildlife Commission as providing wonderful spots to catch large trout. These waters are able to produce 60 pounds of trout per acre, and at least twelve 14″ or larger trout per acre. There are only 322 miles of Colorado’s 9,000 miles of trout streams and 3 lakes that are designated as Gold Medal Waters. 

Here are some recommended Gold Medal Waters our guides recommend for great fishing and testing your skills: 

Arkansas River 

  • 102 miles long of Gold Medal Waters!
  • Designated in 2014
  • The portion of the Arkansas from its confluence with the Lake Fork to Parkdale
  • US Hwy 285 follows much of the upper portion; US Hwy 50 follows along the lower Gold Medal portion
  • Many access points on federal, state, and partnership lands
  • Portions are fly and lure only; portions are catch-and-release on certain species. Be sure to check the regulations for the sections you are fishing
  • It was in 2004 that the upper Arkansas River was designated Colorado’s newest addition to the statewide list of Gold Medal Trout Waters. No fishing regulations were changed when the river was designated Gold Medal. Designating waters as Gold Medal does not automatically place them under restrictive regulations. 

Blue River 

  • North from the Dam at Dillon Reservoir (near Silverthorne) to its confluence with the Green Mountain Reservoir.
  • Colorado Hwy 9 follows the Blue for much of the 34 miles, with access points
  • The entire segment is fly and lure only; portions are catch-and-release on trout; other portions are 2 trout limit with a minimum size of 16″. Check regs for the section(s) you are fishing.
  • Close to great campgrounds, RV access, and the popular resort towns of Breckenridge and Keystone

fly fishing guide and guests on a fly fishing float trip on the colorado river

Colorado River 

Gore Creek 

  • From Red Sandstone Creek to the Eagle River (downstream), west of Vail.
  • I-70/US Hwy 6 follows the creek.
  • Flies and lures only; bag/possession = 2 trout, 16″ or greater.
Fly Fishing the Upper Rio Grande: Colorado's Best-Kept Secre - Fly Fisherman

photo from Fly Fisherman

Rio Grande River 

  • From Hwy 149 bridge at South Fork downstream to the Rio Grande canal diversion structure.
  • Access from US Hwy 160 and State Hwy 149
  • Artificial flies/lures only; Catch and release on Rainbows; Bag/possession on Browns is 2, max size 12″
Fishing on the Fryingpan - FREESKIER

photo from Freeskier

Fryingpan River 

  • East of Basalt, from the dam at Ruedi Reservoir, downstream to the confluence with the Roaring Fork. Forest Road 105 follows the river.
  • Fly/lure only; catch and release on all trout except Browns; Bag/possession for Browns is 2, max size 14″

Roaring Fork River 

  • From the confluence with the Fryingpan River north and downstream to the confluence with the Colorado River (near Glenwood Springs)
  • Fly/lure only; 2 trout limit with min size 16″


Gold Medal waters can be enjoyed by all throughout the season. Head on up to one of these top spots to catch those big 14”+ trout. You can venture out on your own, or take a guided fishing trip with AVA, check out available trips here. 


About the Author

Tiffany Weber

Tiffany is a contributing member of the Sales & Marketing department. She resides in Georgetown, CO with her fiancé and two 14-year-old dogs. They like to go for walks along Clear Creek and Georgetown Lake as well as the hiking trail located just behind the house. She also enjoys true crime podcasts and visiting with her parents up in Fort Collins.


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