Colorado is known for outstanding trout fishing, with other species often overlooked. If you’re into largemouth bass and don’t want to follow the trout crowd, that’s a good thing.
Fear not, there are still some pretty fantastic largemouth bass fishing waters across Colorado, if you know where to look. The best lakes (and rivers) on our list warm up by spring and provide plenty of the cover that bass crave. We’ll point you in the right direction for bucketmouths.
The usual bassy candidates pop up on our list, like John Martin Reservoir and Navajo Reservoir.
We’ve also uncovered several smaller bodies of water much closer to civilization, so you won’t have to burn a tank of gas and half the day just getting there. Yet, they are must-fish locations hiding in plain sight.
For example, one spot on our list is St. Vrain State Park, which has a couple of smaller lakes filled with largemouths waiting to put a bend in your rod, and it’s right outside Fort Collins.
The Denver metro area has several great bass fisheries, with bass averages in the 3lb to 4lb range. At the same time, Pueblo and Colorado Springs can make the same claims. That’s not a bad fishery.
The western slope has even more great fisheries.
To sum up: Colorado isn’t all high-mountain streams and fly fishing. It also has some excellent largemouth bass fishing if you know where to look. And you’ll know just that after reading this article.
But first, here’s a bit of knowledge you’ll want to soak up before you hit the lake.
Largemouth Bass Fishing Tips
Use a 6’6” or 7’ medium/heavy fast action rod with a matching reel.
Braid line in the 10- to 20-pound range will do the job anywhere in Colorado. Monofilament in 10- to 15-pound range also will work, though the braid is a smaller diameter so that you can fit more on the reel.
Largemouth bass in Colorado will respond to the same lures as they do everywhere else. The standard crayfish, bluegill, rainbow, and shad patterns get the job done.
Crankbaits are fun and work great in most circumstances. Be sure to have an assortment of lipless, square bill, and a few deep diving types.
Finesse baits on a Carolina or Texas rig also will do well. Senkos in watermelon/red flake fished weightless, either traditionally or wacky rigged, are like candy to bass. Natural colors are best in clear waters, while the brighter ones work in cloudy or silty water.
Weeds almost scream for topwater action. Toss a frog or other topwater and make some noise. The bass will destroy it, especially at first and last light.
Best Largemouth Bass Fishing in Colorado
If you’re searching for a fish that will put up a fight, largemouth bass fishing is for you. They’re in several lakes and a few rivers throughout Colorado.
Let’s look at the top waters in Colorado for the best LMB fishing.
To make it easier to navigate, we’ve grouped the best waters into Eastern and Western Colorado locations.
Eastern Colorado Bass Fishing
These are the best fishing spots that are generally east of the Rockies, including the Front Range and other areas relatively close to Denver, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, and other cities in this region.
It also includes a very good bass fishing spot out on the Eastern Plains.
Pueblo Reservoir, a.k.a. Lake Pueblo, has all the right ingredients to support an excellent largemouth bass population.
Largemouth bass are easily caught from the shore here. Cast along the shoreline, then spread your casts around the entire area you’re fishing, paying special attention to likely fish-holding structure.
Use a crankbait or jerk bait from late April through June, which these fish are most aggressive. Switch to a more finesse style approach throughout the hotter months. Early mornings have great topwater action in the shallower end.
The lake has plenty of smallmouth bass and wipers competing for the same foods. You’ll likely catch bass, walleye, catfish, bluegill, and the occasional spotted bass.
You’ll be able to find any lodging, food, and gear in Pueblo. The lake is on the city’s west side.
There are also great camping spots, but be sure to book in advance. They fill up fast.
Valco Ponds are located about half a mile below the dam at Pueblo Reservoir. These small ponds have a lot of bass and easy shore access to catch them.
They’re fed by the Arkansas River, which flows past them. Try hitting them early or late, as the heat of the day turns the bite off in this small water. Pueblo is a better option in the heat. Valco is perfect when it’s just a bit cooler.
Spring and fall fishing at Valco can be excellent. Bigger bass are known to be pulled out frequently. The average catch is between 2 and 4 pounds, with some 6- and 7-pound fish showing up in catches now and then.
Topwater action can be explosive early and late in the day, while crankbaits and finesse rigs work well throughout the season.
Camping is available at Pueblo Reservoir, or you can stay in any of the lodging options in Pueblo.
Brush Hollow Reservoir
Brush Hollow Reservoir is about 40 minutes south of Colorado Springs, just west of Penrose. Bass, crappie, catfish, trout, walleye, and bluegill are present in good numbers.
Eating your catch from Brush Hollow isn’t recommended due to elevated mercury levels. There’s no boating or swimming, but the fishing is excellent.
If you put in the work to get here, you’ll be rewarded with fantastic bass fishing in the spring and fall. Another word of caution: here there be rattlesnakes.
All the negatives about Brush Hollow don’t take it off the list. It’s well known for its bass fishing. Its proximity to Colorado Springs can make Brush Hollow a quick evening trip for a little catch-and-release action.
Cherry Creek Reservoir
Cherry Creek Reservoir is a great spot to hit for big bass. It’s located in the Denver area and offers quick access to one of the best largemouth waters around. The park has a campground and boat launches.
Anglers have five miles of mostly accessible shoreline to fish. Boating is another good option.
Arrive early for your best chance at getting a boat out on the lake.
Cherry Creek is very popular and gets crowded, especially on weekends. At times there is a wait to access the park, although during the week it’s pretty calm.
Target bass with crankbaits, soft plastics, and, if early enough, top waters. A jerk bait does well in the mornings and evenings, particularly in the fall.
Spring fishing is the best time for bass, followed by the fall when they’re fattening up for winter.
Wipers, black crappie, channel catfish, bluegill, and rainbows share the lake with the largies and a good number of walleye.
The crappie fishing can be fantastic near the grass line around the submerged trees.
Quincy Reservoir is located in Aurora, just east of Denver. It’s one of three lakes in the area that are largemouth bass hotspots.
The lake is artificial flies and lures only, so leave the bait at home.
Largemouths are the big draw at Quincy. The reservoir regularly produces 3- to 4-pound bass, and the rumor mill says 10-pounders have been caught.
The bass are active throughout much of the year. Spring and fall are the best seasons here, as the bass prep for spawning in the early season and later fatten up for winter.
Standard bass techniques should bring several to the net in a hurry.
There’s a walking trail around the lake that has excellent access for fishing, along with a fishing pier.
Catfish, tiger muskies, smallmouth bass, and trout are also caught here. There’s plenty of lodging and food nearby.
Aurora Reservoir, or A-Town, as the locals refer to it, melds accessibility with state-record fish.
The current channel catfish state record was set here, along with the record smallmouth. The reservoir is just east of Denver on the outskirts of Aurora.
The largies in Aurora are big. They aren’t super plentiful, but when you catch one, it’ll be trophy sized.
Try fishing with minnows or rainbow pattern crankbaits. The lake also has giant crayfish, so toss some craws in there, and you should bring in a largie.
Swimbaits work great here. Spend some time working on the brush in the middle finger (haha). Near the fishing pier is also great.
Spend a little time getting to know the best spots around the lake, and you’ll soon find yourself heading to Aurora every chance you get.
Aside from the great bass fishing, this lake holds a crazy amount of walleye. There’s talk that the next record may come from here.
Catfish fishing is very good here, and catching wipers is certainly an option. There also is a population of bluegill that fluctuates year to year. Rainbows are planted regularly and almost always offer at least fair trout fishing.
McKay Lake is a catch-and-release only water just north of Denver. The perk of having a C&R lake are that fish tend to get big.
That’s the case with McKay Lake. It was known as a fantastic bluegill pond. Now it’s known as a giant bass pond with a few bluegills.
The bass clearly ate all the bluegills, so tossing anything that imitates a ‘gill will knock them dead. Swimbaits and crankbaits should do the trick.
The action at McKay warms up in late March to mid-April. It slows down again in November. Hit the water in the morning for some epic topwater action.
Once the sun is on the water, you might have to switch to crankbaits (again, bluegill patterns). Evenings can be just as good.
It’s an excellent spot for a quick session after work or a morning of crushing bass.
St. Vrain State Park
St. Vrain State Park is the perfect option for those in Fort Collins to spend a day fishing. And it’s a pretty quick drive north from Denver.
Largemouth bass inhabit both Great Blue Heron Reservoir and Bald Eagle Pond at the park.
There are several holes in the vegetation around the weedy lakes that hold bass. It’s worthwhile to move after a few minutes if you’re not catching.
The ponds are easy to access from the trails running through the park. Bring along the little ones and watch them fight their first largemouths.
The creek flowing into the ponds has great access for trout fishing, and the ponds also hold good numbers of catfish.
Lon Hagler Reservoir
Lon Hagler Reservoir, a.k.a. “The Hag,” is about 45 minutes north of Denver in Loveland. There are plenty of places to stay, eat, and get gear throughout Loveland, along with several smaller lakes with great bass fishing.
The largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing at Lon Hagler is catch-and-release only.
The Hag has a bit of a reputation for being finicky. Try to overcome that with a good swimbait. The bass love them. Gizzard shad patterns are effective, as are crayfish.
Lon Hagler can be hot action for bass. It can also be very slow. If the fishing seems to be dragging, head to another of the local lakes nearby. They all hold decent numbers of largemouths.
Trout, smallmouth bass, catfish, walleye, tiger muskie, yellow perch, bluegill, and common carp are also in the reservoir.
Tiger muskies will occasionally crash your bass lure, but overall they are a particular challenge. They’re easy to see and nearly impossible to catch.
A side note: If you fish here, haul out more junk than you come in with. Garbage is a huge problem at The Hag, and it’s up to us to do something about it.
John Martin Reservoir
John Martin Reservoir, or “Jmart,” is among Colorado’s top bass lakes.
It’s also the best bass fishing spot in southeast Colorado, about two hours east of Pueblo near Las Animas.
Jmart is a great fishing destination for bass, crappie, and catfish fishing.
The northeastern shore is the perfect place to bring in the bass. It has a rocky shoreline with plenty of room to spread out.
The shallow end near the inlet also has prime habitat for bass. Submerged brush provides cover for baitfish, and the big bass know it.
Largemouth bass in John Martin Reservoir are a bit finicky, but once you figure them out, you’ll do well almost every trip.
Smallmouth bass and wipers are prevalent, with the state record wiper coming from here.
If the largies aren’t biting, put a minnow or a chunk of mussel on a 1/0 or 2/0 hook and go after the wipers.
Western Colorado Bass Fishing
These great bass fishing lakes and rivers are in the vast Western Slope of Colorado.
Navajo Reservoir sits on the border of Colorado and New Mexico. The Colorado side has about 3,000 acres to fish and is about an hour southeast of Durango.
The lake is full of submerged trees and other bass habitats throughout the northern end. During the summer and fall, this area can be spectacular.
Fishing from a boat is optimal. The bigger largemouth bass head into deeper water and hold in the submerged trees. Fish deep for them when it’s hot out.
Afternoons are pretty slow, so fish early or late throughout the summer. Fall is a bit more forgiving, so you might catch more from shore in the rocks.
There are campgrounds and a resort around the northern end of the lake, and the visitors center has licenses for both Colorado and New Mexico. You’ll probably want to grab one of the latter, since the majority of the lake is in NM.
Echo Canyon Reservoir
Echo Canyon Reservoir is just outside of Pagosa Springs, about an hour outside of Durango.
Largemouth bass have started rebounding since the major water shortage in 2019. There are more catchable, keeper-sized fish lately.
Target bass from a boat while casting towards the shore. Work the banks, then move out and work the drops. Shad patterns should do well.
Crankbaits, jerkbaits, and jigs in crayfish or shad patterns will do well. The best access is with a boat, but fishing near the boat ramp from shore works well with finesse rigs.
The vegetation and submerged trees in shallower sections are prime largemouth habitat.
Try jigs in the deeper sections. Tip your hooks with a bit of minnow or worm. Don’t add too much, or the catfish will be all over your jig.
Fish around the finger next to the boat ramp. Try jigs and crankbaits. There are definitely some bass in this section.
If nothing’s playing along, head to the south side and cast along the shore.
Keep in mind the state-record largemouth bass came from Echo Canyon Reservoir, so there’s bound to be a giant or two amid all the smaller fish.
Elkhead Reservoir is in northwestern Colorado, about halfway between Craig and Hayden. It’s close to four hours from Denver, so if that’s your starting point, plan on making a few days of it.
The largemouth bass in Elkhead are everywhere. There are several easy access points with submerged cover surrounding the lake. Once there, you’ll see how easy it is to pick a great spot from shore.
Boats are even better here. Head up the lake toward the Elkhead Creek area and find plenty of submerged trees and brush in the small coves. A few of the lake’s fingers have a near-perfect habitat, leading to giant bucketmouths.
Try your luck with a Lucky Craft LC 2.5 Shallow Square bill crankbait. They’re available in tons of crayfish patterns and gizzard shad, which will work great here.
Bluegill and crappie do okay here, and bluegill patterns work to catch largemouth and smallmouth bass.
The northern pike and smallmouth bass have a catch and keep order. Check the current regulations to see any updates on the pike/smallie requirement.
Campgrounds are available around the lake, and there’s lodging in Craig and Hayden.
Craig boasts the beginning of what might be the best bass fishery in the state, though also one of its more remote ones. Largemouth and smallmouth bass are everywhere in the Yampa River.
Craig has excellent shore access to the river, with miles of trails and places to launch your tube or kayak.
From Craig to the state line is bigtime bass habitat. The water’s warm, and the largies are everywhere. Smallmouth fishing is fantastic as well.
The standard warm water fishing techniques work well on the Yampa River.
Above Craig, heading to Hayden, the river doesn’t get a lot of pressure. You’re likely to catch giant rainbows and pike. They share the river for a while before it warms too much.
Catfish take over the river just before the confluence with the Green River. Silty water limits the species that can thrive there.
Several guides will take you through the float from Craig to the Green. Even more will take you above Hayden to target 10-pound-plus rainbows.
Craig has plenty of lodging and food and makes a good basecamp if you’re not planning on floating the river.
The Colorado River running through far-western Colorado has largemouth and smallmouth bass, catfish, pike, and probably a hundred other species cruising around in its murky depths.
You can find access all of those fish species along the river trail system in Grand Junction.
Several small impoundments throughout the area also hold good numbers of largies, including Connected Lakes and Corn Lake in the Grand Junction area (see separate listings for those below).
The action gets hot in April and continues until runoff waters start swelling the river in mid-May. By July, the river has returned to its expected flows, and fishing is hot again.
There are many slow bends with submerged structure like giant trees for largemouths to hold.
You could spend an entire month walking it and never get tired of the quality of bass you’re pulling in. Three to 5-pounders are pretty standard, with the odd 8- to 10-pounder showing up.
Grand Junction has plenty of everything you’ll need for lodging, food, and gear.
The Connected Lakes are in Grand Junction. They’re fed by the Colorado River and managed as a largemouth fishery. Three lakes in total provide fast action for bass.
The fishing can be fast, with averages of 2 to 4 pounds. The best approach is to go early, and preferably during the week. Weekends and evenings see a substantial crowd.
Typical bass fishing techniques work well here. Spend the time to explore each section of the ponds, and you might be surprised by the size of bass you catch. Six and 7-pounders are around, and rumors are flowing that a bigger fish is in there.
Bluegill and crappie round out this warm-water fishery at Connected Lakes. There’s plenty to do around the ponds, or you can head to the Colorado River and fish for bass and catfish there as well.
Corn Lake is another Grand Junction-area fishery (in neighboring Clifton) that provides anglers with possibly the fastest action anywhere. It’s regularly planted with hatchery trout, so if bait fishing, it’s hard to keep them off the hook.
Big bass get pretty fat snacking on the readily available rainbows and as well as smaller fish in the lake.
Most of the shore is easily accessible, so you don’t have to go far to catch fish.
Look for submerged trees and brush in the lake. That’s where the bass stay. If you’re only catching rainbows, move to a different section.
Catfish, bluegill, and crappie are also easy catches here. While the average bass size isn’t anything to write home about, the sheer number of fish will keep you entertained for hours.
There’s not really any best time to fish here. Bass bite throughout the day, and with the location so close to the Connected Lakes, if nothing’s biting, move over there.
Catch More Bass
Follow the lake and river choices and other tips in this article and you should be catching bass in Colorado in no time.
But if you want to up your game and explore the most effective techniques and best lures and baits to land America’s favorite game fish wherever you go, check out the simple how-to tips in our free bass fishing guide.