When you’re thinking about a great family outing in the mountains, there’s nothing better than spending a day on the water fly fishing for trout in Colorado, surrounded by spectacular scenery. That’s Marble! Whether the angler is an experienced fly-fisherman looking for pristine trout streams or a youngster hoping to hook up his or her first fish, Marble has something to offer.
Fly fishing on the Crystal River
The Crystal River, known as one of the favorite fly fishing destinations in Colorado, springs forth from the mountains just above Marble and flows through town and down through Redstone until it joins the Roaring Fork River below Carbondale. The Crystal is home to wild populations of German brown, rainbow, cutthroat, and brook trout, as well as big schools of mountain whitefish. On public stretches of the Crystal between Redstone and Marble, the Colorado Division of Wildlife regularly stocks the river with catchable-size rainbow and cutthroat trout.
Flyfishermen have the best success on the Crystal. The river is very rocky and bait and spinner fishermen tend to lose their gear. Recommended patterns for the Crystal include the bead-head pheasant tail, bead-head prince nymph, H&L Variant, Stimulator, and elk-hair caddis. Fly fishermen staying in the Glenwood Springs and Aspen areas often find that the Crystal River is a quiet retreat from other busy rivers.
However, the Crystal is not naturally as productive as other Colorado rivers. The river drains several large basins composed of shale, which is known to inhibit the growth of insect populations. For fly fishermen seeking wild trout populations, the Crystal offers fair to excellent fly-fishing, particularly above the town of Marble, where there are two large shale drainages. In the Redstone/Marble area, there is good public access along Highway 133 between Hays Creek Falls and the Placita Trailhead, and again between the intersection of the Marble turnoff (County Road 3) and downstream approximately one mile.
There is an additional ½-mile of public access along the Marble Millsite park right in Marble itself, and for hikers, the stretch between Crystal and Lead King Basin can be challenging but productive for brook trout.
One of the favorite family destinations is Beaver Lake, a Colorado Division of Wildlife property located on the eastern edge of the town of Marble. The lake is regularly stocked with catchable trout by the Colorado Division of Wildlife, and it’s a great place for kids to catch their first fish. Parking is good and access is easy. There is a wide dike on the western edge of the lake that allows anglers to spread out, and it’s the kind of place where you can take a folding chair, an umbrella for protection from the sun, a tackle box, and lounge in the sun while watching your bobber. Most anglers use bait (salmon eggs, powerbait) or spinners on Beaver Lake, though flyfishing is effective in the evenings with damselflies and other lake patterns.
No motorboats are allowed on Beaver Lake, but paddleboats, rafts, belly boats, and canoes are welcome. Canoes are available for rent at Beaver Lake Lodge and Beaver Lake Retreat. There is a public restroom, but no trash service. Fishermen are reminded to pick up their trash and take it home with them.
McKee Pond is located along the Marble airstrip near Mile Marker 5 on County Road 3. It’s a small pond of approximately 3 acres with an active beaver lodge in the center of it, and home to a population of wild brook trout and stocked rainbows and cutthroats. Though privately owned, the pond is public access and stocked by the state. Fishing is good with spinners and flies. Canoes, rafts, and belly boats are welcome, and it’s a popular swimming hole for families on hot summer days.
Just downstream from McKee Pond is Island Pond, just below the bridge to Hermit’s Hideaway. Only the north shore of the pond is available for fishing, which is the strip of land between the river and the pond. Check for signs to see if fishing is permitted.
Geneva Lake is a popular high-country destination for backpackers and day hikers. Located north of the trailhead in Lead King Basin, it’s about an hour 4WD trip to Lead King Basin and another 1½ hours of steep hiking to reach Geneva Lake. Situated underneath Snowmass Peak, Hagerman Peak, and Meadow Mountain, Geneva Lake is in a very picturesque setting. The west rim of the lake is ringed by backpackers’ campsites, and it can be a busy destination on midsummer weekends. The lake itself is approximately 100 acres, and is home to wild populations of brook trout averaging 6-10” in length. It’s an excellent day trip if you get up early or overnight backpacking trip.
Tips for Success when Fishing in Marble
- Practice catch and release! The rivers, streams, and lakes surrounding Marble are under increasing fishing pressure, and it’s possible to wipe out the fish population rather quickly. Gently releasing your fish to swim another day makes the fishing better for everybody. Make sure you wet your hands and net before touching a trout so that you don’t strip off his protective slimy coating.
- The terrain is rugged! Footing is tricky in the Crystal River and the creeks near Marble. Elevations range from 7,500 to 10,500 feet. Be prepared for inclement weather, and if you’re far from a vehicle, keep emergency supplies on hand.
- Bring water and sunscreen. The sun is intense at high altitude, and you’ll get sunburned from the rays reflecting off the water. Bring plenty of drinking water and some snacks to tide you over.
- Make sure you’ve got a license and check local regulations! Contact the Colorado Division of Wildlife (303) 297.1192, for more information. Bag limits vary on different streams and lakes. Licenses are available at the Redstone General Store and at City Market in Carbondale.
- Make your reservations early. Summer is high season in Marble, and fishing is a popular activity. Book early for peak fishing times! See Marble Colorado lodging for detailed information.