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Fishing
Fishing

​​​​​​​Fishing is one of the most popular activities at St. Vrain State Park.  As such, we strive to make this experience enjoyable and successful for the anglers who visit the park.  With fish species such as Bluegill and Black Crappie, young anglers can hone their fishing skills before moving up to Rainbow Trout, and Channel Catfish. Check out our Fish of St. Vrain Brochure to see a list of the most common fish species inhabiting the ponds in the park.​  In addition, we offer the perfect environment for ice fishing for those willing to brave the elements!

​​​The ponds at St. Vrain State Park have been a favorite family fishing destination for decades.  Different ponds are stocked with trout, bass, walleye, and assorted panfish.  Below, we’ll tell you a little more about each pond, where to fish, and what to try.

Did you catch a whopper?  Take a picture, and we just might add it to our Fishing Wall of Fame!

To send in your picture for consideration, just fill out a photo release form and email it with the picture to st.vrain.park@state.co.us – be sure to include how big the fish was (length and/or weight), which pond you caught it from, and what kind of bait or rig you were using.  The best picture each week will be added to the Wall!

Where Can I Find…?

The most common fishing question heard by the rangers is “What species of fish are in which ponds?”.  Based on the stocking reports and fish surveys, here’s a list of the fish you'll find in ​each pond

Additional Species:​​

  • Black Bullhead – Coot Pond
  • Sauger – Pelican Pond
  • Common Carp – Mallard, Sandpiper, Killdeer, Coot, & Pintail Ponds
  • Grass Carp (Sterile) – Pelican & Bald Eagle Ponds
  • White Sucker – Coot & Pintail Ponds
  • Gizzard Shad – Pintail, Coot, & Bald Eagle Ponds

Which Pond is Which?

It’s important to know which pond you’re fishing at – not only so you catch the right fish, but so you know you’re fishing legally too!

If you are interested in bass fishing, head on over to Bald Eagle Pond, our only catch and release pond, to hook Largemouth and Smallmouth bass. ​

View  a map of the park.

Green SunfishBeginning where you turn off Highway 119 onto County Road 7, you’ll see the new Blue Heron Reservoir on the right, and a handful of other ponds on the left.  This entire area is currently closed to the public, for the safety of both visitors and wildlife.  Parking is not allowed on the side of the road anywhere within park boundaries, beginning just off Highway 119.

Then you’ll bear right onto County Road 24 ½, which divides the park into northern and southern halves. The big pond on the north side of the road is Sandpiper Pond, with little Killdeer and Avocet Ponds at the west end.  Mallard Pond is right behind the Camper Services Building, and huge Pelican Pond spans the whole northeastern corner of the park.

On the south side of County Road 24 ½, the first big pond you’ll see is Bald Eagle Pond.  Bald Eagle has a large skeletal cottonwood tree on an island in the middle of the pond, which makes it easy to remember.  Bald Eagle Pond has two special fishing regulations – you can only fish with artificial flies and lures (no bait of any kind!) and if you catch a bass, you cannot keep it and must return it to the water immediately.

The smaller pond south of Bald Eagle Pond and the campground road is Red Tail Pond.  Further west (behind Coot Camp Loop) is Coot Pond, with little Yellow Legs Pond to the southwest and Pintail Pond to the northwest.

 

For descriptions of each individual pond, see the last section of this page.

Fishing Regulations

Most of the ponds at St. Vrain follow the standard Colorado fishing regulations, including:

  • Fishing licenses and second rod stamps are required for everyone over age 16

  • Daily bag and possession limits apply to each species of fish

  • Fishing poles must be attended at all times

See the Colorado Fishing Regulations for more details. You can also get your own copy of these regulations from the park entrance station or from any fishing license sales agent.

Two bodies of water at St. Vrain also have specific, more restrictive fishing regulations.  These can also be found in the regulations booklet, and on signs posted around the border of the ponds.  However, in case you miss the signs...​

Bald Eagle Pond:

  • Fishing is by artificial flies and lures only. Scented flies or scented lures may be used on this water if they are 1.5 inches or longer.

  • All largemouth and smallmouth bass must be returned to the water immediately upon catch.

Blue Heron Reservoir:

  • The bag and possession limit and minimum size for bass is one fish in the aggregate, 21 inches in length.

Fishing with Children

Family FishingChildren under 16 years of age are not required to have a fishing license.  However, all other fishing regulations - including the second rod stamp and bag/possession limits - still apply.

Parents or other adults who do not have a fishing license are permitted to assist children to fish, such as putting bait on a hook, helping a small child hold the pole, and helping the child cast out.  Children must be actively fishing and attentively monitoring thier own fishing pole.  If the adult is the only person holding the pole, casting the pole, or watching the pole, then this is illegally fishing without a license or fishing with too many poles, not "assisting" a child.

Please ask a ranger if you have any questions about the fishing regulations.

What Kind of Bait Should I Use?

Trout:  When recently stocked, trout will bite on almost anything: flies, spoons, spinner, crank baits, worms, power bait - even chicken liver. If it has been a while since the last stocking, it's best to take one of two approaches:

  • Use flies, small jigs,  spoons, or spinners and stay mobile - cast a few times, move 20-30 feet and cast a few more times.

  • Use bait - worms, salmon eggs, corn or power bait. When bait fishing, experiment with depths (from just under a bobber to one the bottom) to find where the fish are as well as with different baits to see what they prefer.

Panfish (Bluegill, Redear, Perch, Crappie, Green Sunfish): Similar tactics to trout, but even smaller. Tiny jigs tipped with worm or wax worms under a bobber are the best bet, but flies, small spoons and spinners will also catch gills when the trout leave them alone long enough. Small minnows can also be productive when searching for larger sunfish.

Large and Smallmouth Bass: Spinnerbaits, plastics and crankbaits tend to be the go-to lures for bass, but don't be afraid to try a top water, fly, or even worms for bass.

Catfish (Channel and Bullhead): Bait on the bottom is your best bet. Worms are a favorite, but stink baits, liver and corn all work well.

Carp: Most carp are taken incidentally by bait fisherman or by bow fisherman. Some people do bait fish with carp baits sold in stores or corn with some success.

Saugeye/Sauger: Most are taken incidentally by bait fisherman by fisherman using jigs, crankbaits, spoons or spinners.

Protect Our Ponds!

Only hand-propelled craft, sailboats and boats with electric motors are permitted on the park's publicly-accessible ponds.  Many fishermen also use waders or belly boats to get out into the water.  But did you know these accessories can spread aquatic nuisance species?

Eurasian watermilfoil is an invasive plant that can quickly spread and choke out the aquatic life in a pond.  This plant has been found in Mallard Pond, and we need your help to prevent its spread!

It only takes a single piece of a milfoil plant to snag on your boots, get dropped into another pond, then grow and reproduce.  Before you take watercraft or equipment into a pond, check it thoroughly for mud and plant particles that could introduce new unwanted species into our ponds.  Then, after you remove equipment from the water, check it again and clean off any plant debris to be certain you don’t carry anything to your next fishing location.

There are native milfoil plants found in several of the ponds in St. Vrain, which look very similar to Eurasian watermilfoil.  The safest measure is to make sure you never carry any plant material between any bodies of water.

Handicap-Accessible Fishing Piers

Handicap-Accessible Fishing Piers 

St. Vrain State Park offers a number of handicap-accessible fishing piers around Sandpiper, Mallard, and Pelican Ponds.  These fishing piers are available for all visitors to use, but please be courteous to your fellow fishermen and allow space for those with disabilities or limited mobility.

​Sandpiper Pond has two concrete piers, on the southern and western shorelines.  Both are located near parking spaces, and are connected to the parking area by a paved footpath.  The southern pier has a restroom close by, but the western pier does not.

Mallard Pond has a concrete boardwalk with a safety rail circling the back side of the Barbour Ponds Camper Services Building.  Parking and restrooms are available close by.

Pelican Pond has three handicap-accessible fishing piers.  One is located in Pelican Camp Loop, across from Sites 12 and 13, with its own parking spaces and a restroom nearby.  Two more fishing piers are located off the Pelican Pond Trail - one is just a few hundred feet up the trail from the eastern trailhead, while the other is about a quarter-mile in along the northeastern corner of Pelican Pond.

Fishing Conditions, Stocking Reports, & Biologists’ Fish Survey

The ponds are typically stocked in late fall (before ice-over), and in early spring (after ice-melt).  The most up-to-date stocking information can be found on the park's Conditions page.

The annual Fish Survey is performed by fishery biologists who use a variety of methods like gill-netting and electroshocking to sample the number, size, and health of the species of fish in a given pond. The fish survey​ is analyzed for future use in stocking and maintaing the fishery, and it is published for the public to see.