On the South Platte River just upstream of Eleven Mile Canyon lies one of the best stillwater locations for fly fishing in all of Colorado: Eleven Mile Reservoir.
This 3400 acre reservoir in central Colorado is home to trophy-size rainbows, cutthroats, cutbows and browns who share the waters with kokanee, northern pike and carp.
No matter what kind of fishing you are looking for, Eleven Mile has you covered. Shore fishing, float fishing, and all manner of other approaches to plying the water with flies and lures are readily available and accessible via the Eleven Mile Reservoir Park boat ramps, hiking and walking trails.
Should the waters of the reservoir hold no luck for you, you can also travel downriver below the dam at Eleven Mile Reservoir and give Eleven Mile Canyon a go for some high altitude, cold stream fishing. The many pools and pocket water throughout the length of the canyon can offer some faster fishin action than the reservoir, through the first five miles below the dam are Catch-and-Release only waters. Restrictions aside though, the trails through the canyon are definitely rougher going than walking the banks of the reservoir, and access to facilities and park amenities is going to be much easier at Eleven Mile Reservoir Park than fishing the canyon below.
In terms of access to the reservoir, the state park itself has tons of parking, and the circumference of the reservoir itself is easily accessible on foot if you don’t mind a leisurely hike surrounded by the gorgeous mountain vistas of the 8400 feet elevation of the South Park region of central Colorado. There is plenty of action for both wading and bank anglers, with conditions being better for boating as the fish move away from the banks later in the day.
Typically, the further you are from high foot traffic and boat traffic areas at Eleven Mile Reservoir, the better the fish will bite and strike, so don’t hesitate to get off the beaten path a bit provided you stay away from the restricted area near the dam above Eleven Mile Canyon.
Sticking too close to the boat ramps and other launching areas may prove too busy for many of the larger and wilier trout, so if you are looking for that trophy fish you may need to hike a bit before you spot the bigger lake monsters. Essentially, always look to be wherever you can stay furthest from people and boats if you plan to land bigger catches.
Peak season for fly fishing follows the major hatches in the region, so you will find that midsummer to the end of October is going to be your best bet for fast action on Eleven Mile Reservoir before things freeze up for the season.
Tricos are the biggest hatch of the year around the Reservoir, and you want to plan your trip around their annual population boom if at all possible. Fishing is year round in Eleven Mile Canyon, so don’t abandon all hope if you just can’t get out that way during peak season, as midges are a virtually year round hatch that yields excellent results even in the dead of winter.
Tricos, BWOs, Caddis, terrestrials and streamers are all going to yield the best results in terms of flies.
Recommended fly patterns by order of priority include:
- Vernille San Juan Worm (orange #16)
- Sparkle Dun (PMD #18)
- Perfect Wing Spinner (peacock #20)
- Bead Head Pheasant Tail (natural #20)
- Electric Prince (green #18)
- Tunghead Hare's Ear Grub (tan #18)
- Psycho Prince Nymph (purple #16-18)
- Trico Spinner (black #22)
- Two bit Hooker (black #18)
- Rainbow Warrior (pearl #22)
- Woolly Bugger (black #8 to #4)
A 9-foot 5-weight fly rod works well on Eleven Mile. Use a 9 foot leader as part of your setup with tippet size 3x to 6X to match the flies you are throwing. Waders are always a good idea if you plan to fish from bank.
There are a number of area shops that publish Eleven Mile Reservoir fishing reports. A few to check out are listed below.
Rules and regulations are pretty much Colorado Division of Wildlife standard on the reservoir itself, with a bag limit of four fish of any species. The area nearest the dam is off limits to anglers as well, and the reservoir does shut down for the winter due to the deep freeze, and the boat ramps are closed at the end of October each year.
Bears also enjoy the fishing at the reservoir too, so it is important to follow all park guidelines regarding food storage while camping, and be aware of your surroundings should you encounter any bears sharing the waters of Eleven Mile Reservoir with you.
Closest airport is in Colorado Springs, and there are plenty of camping and RV parks all around the South Park area near Eleven Mile Reservoir to suit just about anyone’s needs. Traditional accommodations are easy to come by all around the greater Colorado Springs area, and both hunting and fishing cabins are available for rent year round all over South Park.
Outfitters and retailers also have numerous locations you can visit near Eleven Mile Reservoir park to stock up on supplies as well. Don’t forget to peruse the local vacation home rentals either, as off-season ski rentals are often available at bargain prices when demand is low during the warmer months.
Ken is an avid fisherman of 40+ years who loves to explore and find new places to fish. He created DIY Fly Fishing to help you do the same.
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