Colorado Fly Fishing 3 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Bear Creek in Colorado

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

October 8, 2017

Bear Creek Colorado

The headwaters of Bear Creek can be found amidst the Mount Evans Wilderness in Colorado.

From the wilds below Mount Evans, it winds its way through Evergreen, Idledale, and Morrison before it empties terminates at Bear Ponds and the South Platte River near Englewood.

Kerr Gulch, Cold Spring Gulch and Saw Mill Gulch all feed into Bear Creek, keeping the water high enough for excellent fishing conditions for most of the year.

Fly fishing on Bear Creek Colorado

Perfect for weekends and day trips, Bear Creek is the ideal waterway for making sure you never fish in the same spot twice per trip. Due to the overall terrain and location, there really isn’t a way to camp and fish along the creek, so you will more than likely be making a trip out and back from your accommodations to take advantage of the fishing there.

The waters of Bear Creek are considered to be a canyon fishery that has plenty of pocket water, established fish runs, and deep holes where fish like to keep out of the current. Its best known for its brown trout.

Bear Creek is also home to more than a few rainbow trout and rainbow-cutthroat hybrids. You’ll even find some brook trout higher up in the drainage.

A lot of anglers who visit Bear Creek compare it favorably to Big Thompson River, Boulder Creek, and St. Vrain Creek, though there are those who are of the adamant opinion that Bear Creek offers bigger catches than its peers.

Bear Creek Colorado Fishing Map

map of fishing access spots on Bear Creek in Colorado

Get Directions to the Fishing Access Points shown above with the DIY Fly Fishing Map

Bear Creek Flow and Current Conditions

Be sure to check the stream conditions before heading out to fish Bear Creek. The USGS stream gauge above Evergreen, CO provide a good indication of current conditions.

The graph below shows the stream flow (discharge) for the past 7-days. If flows are considerably above or below historical norms (yellow triangles on the chart) then fishing conditions maybe not be ideal.


  • Streamflow: 43.0 ft³/s
  • Gage height: 4.60 ft
Streamflow GraphGage height Graph

Best Places to Fish Bear Creek

Some of the best fishing to be had on Bear Creek is near Lair of the Bear in the middle and lower sections of the creek. This is also a popular spot for hikers, bikers, and campers too, so don’t be concerned if you see a lot of cars in the nearby parking lots.

Generally there aren’t too many anglers at any given time. If you choose to fish further up river from the Lair, be sure to look around for posted private property warnings, as much of the land from the upper section of the headwaters down to O’Fallon park is private property. Nobody wants a citation or complaint for trespassing lodged against them because they failed to see a posted sign.Besides the Lair, the best fishing can be found towards the end of the lower section of Bear Creek that passes through Idledale and Morrison. This region is filled with holes and runs that are well-known for producing some excellent fishing.

Best Time to Fish the Bear Creek

Summer in the prime season for fishing on Bear Creek. The wild brown trout that inhabitant the creek are not too fussy and a well placed dry fly will usually produce fish.

Bear Creek tends to get murky after it rains so be sure to check weather for the past 24 and the next 24 hours before heading out to fish.

Best Flies for Bear Creek

Effective fly patterns for Bear Creek, include:

  • Amy’s Ant (#8-14)
  • Thunder Thighs Hopper (#8-14)
  • Jigged CDC Pheasant Tail (#12-16)
  • Guide’s Choice Hare’s Ear (#12-16)
  • Psycho Prince (#14-16)
  • Copper John (#12-18)
  • Elk Caddis (#12-18)
  • Kauffman’s Stimulator (#10-16)
  • Dennis’ ParaWulff (#12-16)
  • Z-Wing Caddis (#14-16)

Bear Creek Fishing Tips

Hips waders are all that is needed for these waters, especially around Lair of the Bear. A 7-1/2 ft, 3-wt rod with a faster action work best for the close confines on Bear.  Many Bear Creek and Lair of the Bear veterans recommend over lining your rod to make tighter casting in small areas easier. 

Bear Creek Fishing Report

There are a number of area fly shops and on-line services that can provide a Bear Creek fly fishing report. A few to check out are listed below.

Bear Creek Fishing Regulations

Colorado Parks & Wildlife fishing regulations apply for Bear Creek as any other body of water in the state, and there are no special regulations to be observed other than respecting the posted private property signs in the upper section near the headwaters. Possession and limit is 4 fish with only 1 over 20 inches permitted. Your fish can be one species or any combination of species, you just can’t keep more than 4 at a time per day.

Bear Creek Trip Planning Tips

One of the best aspects of fishing at Bear Creek is that it is only a 30 minute drive from Denver making it a good day trip destinations. 

Bear Creek is only a moderately popular trout fishing spot that sees most of its traffic in the late spring and early summer, so scheduling your trip even during peak season shouldn’t create any major headaches.

Looking for more places to fish? Visit our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in Colorado.