In a perfect world I would spend every day on a mountain stream or on a mountain lake catching wild trout while watching elk, moose, and deer frolic nearby. Sadly we don’t live in a perfect world and in March mountain streams and lakes are still covered with ice, so one needs to be resourceful and willing to lower one’s standards. This brings me to Mann-Nyholt Lakes. Now, by “lowering standards” I don’t mean eating skittles instead of prime rib, more like eating McDonalds instead of a homemade burger fresh off the grill. Both are hamburgers and technically food, but there’s no denying one is better than the other.
Rod: Redington Pursuit 5wt & Royal Coachman 6wt
Leader(s): 9’ 5x trout leader & 9’ 10lbs bass leader
(Note: I brought two rods with me a 5wt and a 6wt. I set the 6wt up for streamer fishing in the hopes of landing some bass and the 5wt I set up for trout and sunfish with a dry/dropper rig.)
Mann-Nyholt Lakes lie adjacent to the Adam County Fairgrounds approximately 17 miles from downtown Denver. This by itself should be grounds for applause. The park surrounding the lake is quite nice with hiking and biking trails and excellent views of the Front Range including Longs Peak and Mt. Evans. When you’re there it’s actually hard to believe you’re so close to a major metropolitan area.
The park and lake are heavily used so don’t expect much solitude. Also, you’ll have to battle a little to find a section of shoreline to fish from. Those two things alone kind of turned me off, but you can’t beat the convenience (the lake is just 6 miles from my apartment). Also, Colorado Parks and Wildlife stocks the lake regularly so there are always fish to catch and some good sized ones as well.
The major issue here is access to good fishing spots. The lake is pretty big and I believe some of the best fishing is out from the shoreline, which is inaccessible without a float tube. There are decent spots along the shore but with all the joggers, bike riders, and trees you always have to watch your back cast so you don’t snag something, or somebody.
The lake reportedly holds rainbow trout (stocked), largemouth bass, bluegill, black crappies, channel catfish, carp, black bullhead, and yellow perch. The lake was recently stocked when I went, so the trout were very prevalent. They were more than willing to take a well presented fly, and I even caught a few stripping in my streamers while looking for bass. I saw some nice bass rising and jumping early in the morning but sadly couldn’t entice a strike from any of them. I can’t confirm the presence of the other species but I’m sure most if not all of the species listed are present.
I’m sure, like me, you’d rather spend your fishing time on a remote stream or lake deep in the wilderness, but Mann-Nyholt Lakes will do in a pinch. The area is quite nice despite the heavy use, and it’s really close to most of Denver’s Northern suburbs. If you only have a few hours or you can’t escape to the mountains it’s a decent option, but if you can choose between the two go with the mountains. Until next time, happy fishing!
– A. Egli