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Fourteener Country offers a wide variety of fishing opportunities. No matter what type of fishing you enjoy, you can find it in the valley. In addition to the Arkansas River the area boast plenty of lakes, creeks and beaver ponds.
For easy access trout fishing, O'Haver Lake is hard to beat. From Poncha Springs, drive south on 285 towards Poncha Pass, turn right on County Road 200, turn right on County Road 202, and follow the signs to parking . This lake is heavily stocked, has walk around access and plenty of camping available. This lake is the perfect lake for families, and has a spectacular view of Ouray Peak to boot. On the trip up to O'Haver, you will see lots of beaver ponds and small streams, these are filled with Brook Trout and Rainbow Trout, just waiting for you.
Some of the best high country fishing is found in the beaver ponds. These are always filled with Brook Trout, they are small but plentiful, and very easy to catch. Almost any fly pattern will work, try Elk Hair Caddis, Adams, Royal Wulff, and the perennial favorite the Zug Bug. One of these is sure to snag a brookie or ten! It is best to hide behind the dam, and cast up to the trout. Often you can see them patrolling the lake in a pattern, and can set yourself up for an easy catch.
Almost every creek and river has beaver ponds, new ponds are a treat since they have not had a chance to get overpopulated with small trout. Favorite ponds are found at the base of Huron Peak (14,000 ft). To get there requires a 4WD or high clearance vehicle. Drive north of Buena Vista to Clear Creek Reservoir, turn left onto County Road 390 to Winfield (there is very good fishing on Clear Creek also) Turn left (south) on a small road, continue until the trailhead/parking lot for the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area. The last mile of the drive reveals dozens of beaver ponds, and small streams bends filled with trout just waiting for you.
There are many beautiful streams and creeks flowing into the Arkansas, some of these can be overfished, but a short hike away from the obvious fishing spots will always yield good fishing. Clear Creek, mentioned earlier is a great place to start, with lots of trout, and ... very clear water. You can see the trout you are about to spook! If you are lucky, you can catch Rainbow, Brook, Brown and Cutthroat all in one creek.
Another favorite, Cottonwood Creek has many access points. Drive west from Buena Vista on Cottonwood Pass Road (CR306 at the stoplight) and choose one of the many open stretches of the creek. Catching fish here is almost guaranteed!
Visit Trout Creek for an interesting, and scenic fishing experience. GO south on Hwy 24 from Buena Vista, turn east on Hwy 24/285 to Johnson Village. Head up to Trout Creek Pass. On your right will be Trout Creek, the land goes from public to private frequently, so pay attention to the signs here. The fishing is good, but tricky. The Willow bushes will challenge your casting accuracy.
Hunky Dory Lake, high (12,000 ft) above the North Fork may be the best fishing in the state of Colorado. At this lake, the cutthroat are so hungry and stupid that you could probably catch them with pine cones. To get there: Drive Highway 50 west out of Salida to the North Fork Road (county road 240), turn right here, and follow this road for several miles. North Fork Road is rough, but passable to cars with reasonable clearance. Look for a small Forest Service Sign saying "Town of Shavano". Park here, and get ready to hike. Near the parking area is a road/trail crossing the North Fork. Follow this, it ends pretty soon, and you are confronted with a rocky hillside, follow this up for several hundred feet, once on the plateau, turn right (west) and follow the valley to Hunky Dory. Toss out whatever you have, and catch those trout!
There are several reservoirs in the valley where fishing from shore can be very good. Near Leadville, is Turquoise Lake. The state recreation area offers great fishing and views. It has trail or road completely around the lake, giving great fishing access. South of Leadville at Balltown is Twin Lakes Reservoir. This cold deep lake is at the base of Mt. Elbert. It is a great trout fishery, and is a popular place for ice fishing. During January there are dozens of trucks and ice fishing shacks on the lake. Finally, Clear Lake Reservoir is just south of Granite, small, but probably the best lake fishing in the valley. These lakes are close enough that a fisherman can try his luck on all three in one day. These lakes also have launch ramps for those lucky fishermen with boats.
There are so many lakes and streams in the valley that it would take years for fish them all. Better get started soon!
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