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Fishing for the Big One On the Grand Mesa

Zane Mathews
Zane Mathews

The Grand Mesa in western Colorado is a popular fishing destination and it’s where some people go to catch “the big one.”

My recent excursion on the Grand Mesa was intended to be more about experiencing the great outdoors than it was about catching big fish, but as it turned out, I accomplished both.

One reason why fishing is so popular on the Grand Mesa is a large number of lakes that exist and because of their accessibility. Most of the lakes that are not accessible by car, can be reached via ATV, motor bike, or horseback. For those of us that don’t own these modes of transportation, God gave us two good legs to hike into the more secluded areas.

Our goal was to backpack into a secluded area, set camp for a couple of nights, and catch some fish. It was our first time fishing on the Mesa, yet we were so confident that we would have fish meals, the only food we took was some protein bars.

Without a backpack, the nearly 2-mile hike is not difficult. It mostly goes downhill on the way, which means the hike out is mostly uphill, but only moderately difficult. With 30-40 pounds on your back, you will know you have been on a hike, but it’s not like you’re climbing a mountain.

We started out at the Lake of the Woods trail, heading toward the Bull Creek area and in just over an hour we reached our destination. What we found were three lakes with two restrictions: Artificial flies and lures only, and a limit of 2 fish 16 inches or longer. I had never caught a 16-inch trout in my life, so I wasn’t so sure it was going to happen now.

However, after four hours of fishing on the first day – just before dark I decided to do one more cast. Glad I did, because the biggest trout I have ever caught grabbed my lure like a fish possessed, and the 19-incher became dinner on day one. The fact that the lure lodged deep into two of my fingers during the ensuing struggle  requiring a rather painful extraction was completely beside the point

We spent the next day and a half fishing the Bull Creek Reservoirs and we worked for what we got. Traversing around Bull Creek 2 was a definite challenge, climbing over a myriad of fallen trees, navigating through trees, shrubs, and tall grass.

We caught and released the fish that did not meet the size requirement, but we ended up with a total of four keepers – which was plenty of meat for three meals.

While we were the only ones camping, plenty of people found their way back to the lakes, making the trek for the chance to catch a big one, to hunt for mushrooms, or simply enjoy a hike with their dog. We didn’t see anyone carrying any fish out, but we ourselves were satisfied with a successful trip.

Things to Know

  • Only artificial flies and lures are allowed on these three lakes, possession limit is 2 fish, minimum 16 inches
  • There are some good camp sites, but be sure and check on fire restrictions before you go
  • Mosquitos weren’t bad in mid-August, but insect repellent is always a good idea
  • We did spot bear feces so definitely be bear aware

Other Things to Do in Western Colorado

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