Wickstrom: Colorado Parks and Wildlife does a good job of managing local ponds

Among the most common reasons people don’t venture into the outdoors is a lack of access and the know how to get started. Colorado Parks and Wildlife is working hard to provide both.

Fishing is one activity where a lack of early success can dampen people’s enthusiasm, especially for youth. I don’t know how many times I have heard people say “I don’t have the patience” or “my kids won’t sit there long enough”. Growing up in the Midwest, I had access to hundreds of lakes and ponds that were teaming with panfish like bluegills and perch.  You could count on a bobber and a worm to provide steady action and usually a few fish for the frying pan.

CPW does a good job of managing a lot of the local ponds for these same panfish, but they tend to not be as prolific as those ponds of my youth. I have long maintained that the true “panfish” of Colorado is the stocked rainbow trout.  CPW does a terrific job of raising and stocking these fish.  “Catchables” are typically 8 to 12 inches in length when they are stocked and available to anglers immediately.  They are also decent table fair.  The best attribute of the stocked rainbow trout is their willingness to bite a number of basic presentations.  Berkley Powerbait trout dough molded on a hook and fished on the bottom is hard to beat.  You can also fish it below a bobber.  A good old fashioned night crawler will also produce bites.

If you would rather cast and retrieve a lure, small inline spinners or spoons will usually do the trick.  In addition to being easy fish to catch, CPW tells you where and when they are stocking on its web site to help you plan your outings.

Tight lines. Sean Dunlavy from St. Vrain State Park joined me on my radio show last Saturday to expound on the incredible fishing during the fall at St. Vrain for stocked rainbow trout. More than 40,000 10-inch rainbow trout are stocked annually to accommodate angling pressure. Trout are primarily stocked in Sandpiper, Mallard, and Coot Ponds. Trout are strategically stocked in the spring and fall when cooler water temperatures prevail and to increase ice fishing opportunities. The fall stocking usually takes place the last week of September or the first week of October.

Dunlavy stated that after the fall stocking and well into the winter he believes St. Vrain is one of the best places, if not the best place in the state, to catch rainbow trout.  The limit is four, but he said it is not uncommon to see people catch and release 40 to 60 fish.  He went on to say he feels this is an incredible place to take a kid fishing.  In addition to the fishing there are deer, turkeys, eagles and other wildlife at the park.

St. Vrain State Park is a family-friendly destination for visitors seeking a peaceful and simple outdoor break. It’s an easy drive from Denver or Fort Collins, located on Highway 119 just off I-25 (Exit 240).  Formerly named Barbour Ponds, this nature and people-friendly park offers 604 acres of land and 152 acres of water split among several ponds. It’s a great place for anglers, campers, photographers, birders, walkers and anyone who loves nature.

For more information on St. Vrain State Park click the link below.


For current stocking information follow this link.


To listen to my complete interview with Sean Dunlavy click the link below.

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