EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - A spin-fishing rod can provide hours of entertainment if you know how to use one ... or even if you don't.
If you're looking for a place to do a few quick casts, consider one of these convenient destinations in Eagle County.
Location: Harry A. Nottingham Park, 1 Lake St., Avon
Fish for: Stocked with rainbow and cutthroat trout
Expect: With views of Beaver Creek mountain, this 15-acre lake is a popular spin fishing spot. "There are very big fish in Nottingham," said Michael Maggini, head fishing guide at Minturn Anglers. Don't be surprised if you pull up something other than trout in this made-made lake. "There are actually some really big crayfish in there," Maggini said. Try fishing from the wooden pier, which is new this summer, or fish from the rocks along the shore. Maggini said renting a paddle boat can provide a different angle on the fishing. "Getting out in the middle allows you to cast 360 degrees all around you," he said. Because crayfish are common in the lake, he said the fish like lures that resemble crayfish.
Location: South of Interstate 70, about a half mile east of the Gypsum exit.
Fish for: Stocked with rainbow trout, natural population of yellow perch and crappie.
Expect: A quick drive off the highway, old gravel pits have been transformed into a dozen ponds. Visitors can fish all of the ponds but the three furthest west are stocked, said Brian Wodrich, a Colorado Division of Wildlife official familiar with the ponds. While most people fish the biggest lake furthest west, follow the trail to find smaller ponds off the beaten track.
"A lot people will just hit that west pond," Wodrich said. "It (the pond area) actually goes for almost 2 1/2, 3 miles to the east."
Alex Rachowicz, owner of Minturn Anglers, said one of the biggest perks is that the Eagle River is located near the ponds, so fishermen can alternate between the ponds and the river.
"The biggest trout in the Eagle are down in that section of the river, from Eagle west," Rachowicz said.
Location: North of Vail. Take Red Sandstone Road to Forest Service Road 700. Follow signs to Piney Lake.
Fish for: Brook, brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout, Maggini said.
Expect: After bumping up a dirt road for 11 miles, visitors discover a natural lake surrounded by mountains. "It's one of my favorite places to fish because of the scenery," Maggini said. Renting a canoe can help fishermen access the middle of the lake, he said. To get away from other people, try crossing the Piney River and working the less popular parts of the lake, Maggini suggests. While fish are plentiful, a side benefit could be spotting moose.
"I've seen moose out in the lake and very close to that vicinity," Maggini said.
Location: Freedom Park on Miller Ranch Road
Fish for: Brown and rainbow trout
Expect: Perfect for kids, this petite pond is stress-free place to bring a rod.
"It's very easy to access the whole lake," Maggini said.
Shallow around the edges, the pond is a safe place to bring kids for fishing. An irrigation ditch from the Eagle River feeds the 2 1/2-acre pond. While the pond is ideal for youngsters, serious fishermen might be turned off by many dogs that frequent the park.
"You can be fishing and all of the sudden someone throws a tennis ball right where you're fishing and the dog goes in after it," Maggini said.
- Mark Jimerson, assistant manager of the Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery and aquatic biologist Kendall Bakich with the Colorado Division of Wildlife supplied the information on the stocked and natural fish populations for Nottingham Lake and Gypsum ponds.
Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.