Imagine how glorious it would be if the government set up a place just for fishermen. They’d stock it with fish regularly, maintain certain waters for trophy fish, and even build ADA accessible fishing piers so everyone could enjoy it. Believe it or not, this imaginary place actually exists! It’s called St. Vrain State Park.
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)
St. Vrain State Park is probably the smallest state park in Colorado with arguably the worst location (right next to the interstate). However, its sole purpose is to provide excellent fishing opportunities to the public, and it more than achieves this goal. The park does have a bunch of camping spots (mostly for RVs) but these are just excuses to get to the fishing earlier, I mean who truly wants to camp next to an interstate?
The park consists of 10 or 11 ponds (depending on if you want to count Avocet Pond, really tiny with no real fishing access). The ponds vary in size and each pond has a different variety of fish species. For example; Bald Eagle Pond is maintained as a trophy bass fishery. The pond holds Large and Smallmouth Bass and their main food sources (Black Crappie, Bluegill, Green Sunfish, and Perch). No live bait can be used on Bald Eagle, only flies and lures, and all bass are catch and release only. Needless to say the pond is full of big, smart bass. I spent several hours on this pond trying to coax a strike out of one of them to no avail.
The park also offers easier fishing in ponds like Sandpiper. This pond holds Largemouth Bass, Channel Catfish, Bluegill, Black Crappie, Green Sunfish, and Yellow Perch. One top of that, the pond is stocked with close to 20,000 rainbow trout a year. That’s a lot of trout. I tried to catch every species I could out of Sandpiper and at the end of the day I had pulled out 18 trout and 1 Bluegill, so if you’re looking to catch trout, look no further. These stocked trout were surprisingly good fighters too, most took to the air and I did pull in several decent sized fish.
The remaining ponds hold similar mixes of species and a few also hold Sauger, Walleye, and Northern Pike. CPW even has a handy list of each pond and the species that are prevalent, which you can check out here. There is ample parking and lots of trails that connect the ponds. In a full day of fishing I wondered around and fished in 5 ponds total, so there are more than enough options to keep you busy. There are crowds in the summer, but certain ponds like Pelican, Sandpiper, and Bald Eagle are much more popular than others. So, if you’re looking for some space, head to the less popular ponds like; Killdeer, Redtail, and Pintail.
If you’re looking for trophy sized fish, the biggest ones seem to be in Pelican and Bald Eagle Ponds. If you just want to catch as many fish as possible I’d go with Sandpiper. Although Sandpiper gets arguably the most fishing pressure, almost everyone you see will be fishing with worms or spin casting. A well presented dry dropper rig on Sandpiper will land you a lot of trout and will easily outpace everyone around you, much to their dismay. I had a lot of people asking me what I was using, as I pulled in trout after trout, while they sat there waiting for their bobbers to move.
In conclusion, the location of St. Vrain State Park isn’t ideal (right next to the interstate) and it can get crowded during the summer. However, if you enjoy fishing you can’t really go wrong. The whole place is designed specifically for anglers and it is well maintained by CPW. The location also offers great views of Longs Peak and the Mummy Range as well as numerous bird species to watch, including Bald Eagles. So, if you can’t make it up into the mountains but want a good day on the water, head to St. Vrain State Park, it’s well worth the visit. Until next time, happy fishing!
– A. Egli