It’s hard to beat the feeling of landing a Colorado trout on a beautiful day in the mountains. The simple act of being next to the water as it runs over the rocks and feeling the breeze as you cast your line is enough to bring visitors back year after year. But, the thrill of actually hooking a fish and watching the sun sparkle on its scales as it sits in your net is downright euphoric.
Guests of the Glen Isle Resort have reported catching massive fish in the deep pools along the resort property during every season. In addition to the sections of the river that run through Glen Isle, the Bailey area offers fishing opportunities for all types of anglers. Just ask Todd Clough, a local fisherman who is so familiar with the sport that he’s been nicknamed ‘the Guide Father’.
After more than 40 years of guiding Todd has witnessed the evolution of the South Platte River. Private ranches have made significant financial investments to create ideal fisheries for world-class fishing experiences. Most of the landowners in the area have contracts with guide companies and require a rod fee for access to the river, but there are fishing gems all around the area if you know where to look. Todd recommends contacting a local outfitter to schedule a guided trip, or to learn about public fishing areas such as Terryall, Michigan Creek, and lakes in South Park.
He has technically retired from guiding but you’ll still see Todd on the river providing lessons to new anglers looking to improve their technique. There is a zen-like draw to gracefully casting a fly so it’s not surprising that the Bailey area attracts all levels of fishermen and some of the best guides you can find. Most instructors would agree with Todd when he says that “Watching beginners get a fish and sharing this wonderful sport I’ve been doing since I was 10 years old brings me great joy.”
“Gold Medal Water” is a term you may hear anglers and guides use when recommending fishing locations. As the name implies, these stretches of river have earned a reputation for outstanding fishing opportunities. It’s not simply a local phrase, Colorado Parks & Wildlife has specific criteria for a body of water to be classified as Gold Medal including trout that are over 14 inches and a consistent stock of at least 60 pounds per acre. This designation is specific to public water and can be found on 3 lakes and 11 rivers in Colorado, so grab a fishing pole and get out there!
Fortunately, for guests of the Glen Isle, the town of Bailey is the perfect base for accessing world-class fishing locations. The South Platte River boasts 37 miles of Gold Medal water including a 4-mile stretch known as the “Dream Stream” where anglers catch massive brown and rainbow trout. This section of water is in a meadow between two reservoirs with magnificent views of the mountains that can be enjoyed by avid anglers as well as families who want to check out the surrounding area.
You don’t have to seek Gold Medal waters to have a great experience. Fishing for small brook trout in the nearby creeks and beaver ponds is one of the most fun ways to enjoy the outdoors. Take a hike along a creek and you are bound to see all kinds of wildlife in addition to finding a perfect pool for fish to hide out in the shady rocks.
A great resource for navigating the area is just down the road from the lodge at Platte River Outfitters. When he’s not on the river you’ll find the owner, Glenn Ellis in the store eager to provide tips and information. The water flow of the South Platte River is always changing and Glenn can point all types of anglers in the right direction.
When venturing out for a day on the water we recommend checking the weather and water conditions which are always changing and can have a real impact on your experience. There are opportunities to fish rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds with all types of gear. Below are some resources, but the most important thing is to have fun!
Guide Services, Classes, and Private Fishing
Hiring a guide or signing up for a clinic is a great way to improve your skills and get access to some of the best water in Colorado. You’ll find that guides are passionate about their sport and love to share their experience.
Outfitters and Retail
From rods and reels to hand-tied flies and bait you’ll want the right gear. Don’t forget sunscreen, a hat, and maybe pick up a souvenir while you’re at it.
Lakes and Ponds
While the South Platte River is the main draw for fly fishermen, there are gorgeous mountain lakes in the area as well. In addition to catching fish, these lakes are a great place to picnic, hike, or go boating.