(Last Updated On: April 8, 2016)

UPDATED: April 8, 2016

Want to get out for just a few hours and test your skills against some trout? Your time in Breckenridge allows for just such a thing. Here are three options right out of the door or within a very short drive from Breckenridge. There are better times to be at each of these access points, so be sure to check with one of the local fly shops (Breckenridge Outfitters or Mountain Angler), tell them where you want to go, and they will be glad to let you know what flies are working best and at what times.

Fly fishing on the Blue River

A very short drive from Breck along Airport Road gives access to some good opportunities to find some of our high country trout. The closest access from town is found at the Breckenridge Recreation Center. A bit further (and I’m talking minutes out of town) is the satellite parking area and another large access to a section we know as “The Steps.” A bit further north is access at the CMC Campus.

Blue River Near CMC Campus

Near CMC Campus – downstream from The Steps, photo by Gregg Davis

Even further on Highway 9 is the access for the inlet of the Blue River into Dillon Reservoir. Go to the traffic light at the intersection of Swan Mountain Road: turn right and across the bridge on your right is the parking area. Anglers can fish the Blue River all the way to the reservoir. A bonus for this access is the opportunity to cast to Kokanee Salmon in addition to rainbow and brown trout.

Fly fishing on the Swan River

A bit more of a drive (15-20 minutes) and a bit more backcountry is the Swan River. Heading north out of Breck, Take a right turn on Tiger Road. Drive past the Breckenridge Golf Club and continue until the pavement ends; look on your left for a parking area and trailhead. This first access area is home to the historic remains of a local dredge boat left from our mining days. From here follow the trail to the river and begin your adventure. This area is a bit on the tight side, and willows can make casting a challenge.

If you bypass this access point you can continue on the gravel road and head into the National Forest. From here there are several access points; just pay attention to signage for parking. Find a likely looking spot and jump in.

Swan River below the Dredge, photo by Keith McHugh

Swan River below the Dredge, photo by Keith McHugh

Fly fishing Mohawk Lakes


Swan River Dredge, near the trailhead, photo by Keith McHugh

This area is much more in the backcountry and requires a moderate hike. The hike alone is worth making this trip, and the opportunity to catch native cutthroat trout is just the icing on the cake. This is a very popular hike among our locals and visitors. The fishing can be well worth the effort. Amazing scenery and some historic mining structures make this an exceptional activity. The best description I’ve read on the specifics of how to reach this area can be found in must-have book by Mary Ellen Gilliland “The New Summit Hiker,” available at the Breckenridge Welcome Center. Maps are also available.

In a nutshell, drive south on Highway 9 out of Breck, and take a right on Spruce Creek Road. Follow it up to the trailhead and park, or drive further up the 4WD road if you want to get a little closer to the lakes. From the first trailhead parking area, the Spruce Creek Trail winds up to the second parking area and on to the lakes. Fishing can be phenomenal at the lower lake. Make sure you have a camera to capture images of the stunningly beautiful cutthroat trout you catch, and the beautiful snow white mountain goats that call this area home.

A beautiful Cutthroat Trout caught in a nearby alpine lake. Photo by Keith McHugh

A beautiful Cutthroat Trout caught in a nearby alpine lake.
Photo by Keith McHugh

Check in with our local fly shops to find out best times and which fly patterns are working best. Pay attention to the weather during monsoon season, which can bring rowdy thunderstorms (and lightening). Just make sure you have some rain gear handy, some dry flies, a camera, and enjoy your adventure.

Read more about fly fishing in Breckenridge

About the author: Keith McHugh is an Orvis Endorsed fly-fishing guide based out of Breckenridge. For the past 10 years, he has provided his guests with lots of laughs, a lot of experience, lots of memories, and yes, some trout caught on a fly rod. Originally from Georgia, he has been fly fishing since about the age of 12. If you have any questions about Breckenridge area fly fishing, try him @RaddyGuide


About The Author

Sometimes referred to as the toughest guy to get hold of because he is mostly in areas without decent cell coverage. Keith McHugh is out there, and his knowledge of the outdoors and sense of humor will prove it. No matter if it is telemark powder skiing, hunting or fishing throughout Colorado, Keith’s passion about the mountains and all things outdoors is contagious. He obsessive about turkey, waterfowl and upland bird hunting, as well as archery hunting for elk. He has fly-fished most of his life, and has held his professional Orvis Endorsed instructor and fly-fishing guide credentials for almost ten years. As a guide for Breckenridge Outfitters, he challenges himself to provide a mix of adventure, amusement and a memorable experience for his guests. It might be instructing/guiding the first timer to their first trout on a fly-rod on a walk wade trip, or guiding well traveled anglers with years of experience on a float trip. He guides on unique and legendary rivers like the Arkansas, Blue, Colorado, South Platte, Williams Fork, Eagle, and private water along Troublesome Creek. Stillwater float trips include fly-fishing Antero and Spinney Mountain Reservoirs in South Park which can produce some amazing results. The private access to Duck Lake at the summit of Guanella Pass for the rare and beautiful Colorado native Greenback Cutthroat trout rates as one of his favorites. Being a transplant from the south, “Georgia is still on his mind” even though he has lived in Colorado for fifteen years. Keith resides in Breckenridge with his hunting lab Wigeon.

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