Boulder Creek is an awesome fishery loaded with brown trout and tons of different types of angling opportunities. Anglers can fish successfully in the town of Boulder Colorado, or work their way into waters less traveled higher up in the front range of the rockies. With small water areas, larger pockets, and lots of mileage, this is a small creek fisherman’s dream. Here we are going to give you a complete guide to fly fishing Boulder Creek.
River Map & Access
Below you will find a map with the major points of Boulder Creek. Boulder Creek features various headwaters due to it containing North Boulder Creek, Middle Boulder Creek, South Boulder Creek, and the convergence and larger Boulder Creek. Each of these sections of river offer tons of fish in 3 seasons of the year (sometimes 4).
Because there is so much, this map doesn’t go into extreme detail. What it does do is show you where each of the forks of Boulder Creek go, and points out common parking access to the river. With this, you’ll be able to zoom in on the area you’d like to go, and navigate to a nearby parking lot area to find your place.
The River System
The creek begins with two tributaries beginning along the Continental Divide: North Boulder Creek and Middle Boulder Creek.
South Boulder Creek begins at Rogers Peak, flows into Gross Reservoir, and heads east and northeast before meeting with Boulder Creek. South Boulder Creek flows 40.0 miles (64.4 km) and travels through Rollinsville, Gross Reservoir, and Eldorado Canyon. It eventually curves past the south and east sides of Boulder towards the confluence at Boulder Creek.
North Boulder Creek begins in the valley between Navajo Peak and Arikaree Peak on the Continental Divide, known as the Green Lakes. The creek flows 17.8 miles (28.6 km) before joining Middle Boulder Creek.
Middle Boulder Creek has two forks that begin on the Continental Divide: the North Fork, and the South Fork. The North Fork begins below Mount Neva and flows 7.5 miles (12.1 km) to the South Fork. The South Fork rises begins at Rollins Pass and flows 5.5 miles (8.9 km) to the North Fork. At the junction of the two forks, the forks become Middle Boulder Creek. Middle Boulder Creek then flows 13.7 miles (22.0 km), east through the Eldora and Nederland eventually flowing into Barker Meadow Reservoir. Then the river joins North Boulder Creek to form Boulder Creek.
Boulder Creek then flows down Boulder Canyon towards and then through the city of Boulder. In eastern Boulder, the South Boulder Creek joins Boulder Creek.
Boulder Creek continues northeast and eventually joins the St. Vrain Creek. The St. Vrain eventually joins the Platte River, where this water ends up flowing into the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico.
What Fish Are In Boulder Creek?
Boulder Creek holds a lot of fish. Most anglers are targeting brown trout, rainbow trout, and cutbow trout, cutthroat, and the occasional brook trout. These species are all located in all of the tributaries west of Boulder and some east of Boulder. The brown trout seem to have the highest population, but at the headwaters you’ll begin to find more cutthroat.
Where the river flows through east of Boulder, into reservoirs before boulder, and other ponds, anglers may find other species like bass, carp, shiners, sunfish, crappie, perch, and others.
Most fish in the Boulder Creek system are on the smaller side (less than 12 inches), and light rods (like 3 weights) are often great options. With this being said, some larger fish do remain in these rivers.
Best Places to Fish Boulder Creek
Boulder Creek has a lot of fishable water, so we have broken this down slightly for you. There can be a lot more detail to each of these sections, but that’s for you to figure out by fishing the creek!
The stretch of river in Boulder Canyon is awesome. Anglers will find tons of pocket water with high populations of trout. This is a heavily fished area, but there is a lot of water and pull offs for anglers. If you want to take your car up in the canyon, be prepared to stop at pulloffs and just keep moving up or down the river at different locations.
Downtown Boulder is a great option if you don’t want to travel far. There will be a lot of other anglers, and individuals just enjoying the water or floating down the river. This may not make for the best angling conditions, however, you’ll certainly find plenty of fish.
South Boulder Creek Headwaters
The South Boulder Creek headwaters and stretch of river above the Gross Reservoir has some solid fishing that may be a bit less pressured than other areas. Most trout are on the smaller side, but there are angling opportunities year round.
A dirt road follows most of the creek at the Rollins Pass area, making it quite accessible. Some areas are private property, so we recommend taking a map.
Just above the Gross Reservoir, anglers can park at Pinecliff and hike about a half mile before accessing about 2 miles of fishable water. Here there are train tracks and tunnels. Walking on the tracks is considered trespassing.
South Boulder Creek Tailwaters out of Gross Reservoir – Walker Ranch & Eldorado Canyon
The tailwater out of the Gross Reservoir is some amazing fishing year round due to the dam. This is heavily pressured, but there is a lot of fishable water for anglers.
The farther the angler walks, the less pressure the fish have, and the better the fishing tends to get.
Walker Ranch has some great areas, and then Eldorado canyon has a lot of quality fishing as well. Eldorado canyon is a state park and requires parking fees.
Here are the rules and regulations for the Eldorado Canyon stretch of this river: https://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/EldoradoCanyon/Pages/Fishing.aspx
North Boulder Creek Headwaters In Indian Peaks Wilderness
North Boulder Creek yet again has a ton of water to fish. Anglers will find a lot of pocket water fishing, but can head up to the headwaters in the Indian Peaks Wilderness and fish the ponds and lakes as well. Spring runoff can make a lot of this very difficult to fish.
River Rules & Regulations
Fishing on Boulder Creek is catch and release, except for on South Boulder Creek.
South Boulder Creek has specific regulations in Eldorado Canyon: https://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/EldoradoCanyon/Pages/Fishing.aspx
You should always check the state regulations and look up the specific stretches of river you are fishing before you fish: https://cpw.state.co.us/thingstodo/Pages/Fishing.aspx
Also, always look out for private property or trespassing signs.
Boulder Creek is fishable year round. The tailwater sections tend to be the best sections during winter, and all areas during winter can experience some very icy times. Spring runoff in many areas can make the fishing more difficult. Summer and fall fishing tends to be great in all areas, but you need to choose more wisely during the winter or spring runoff times.
Best Flies for Boulder Creek
This is a very difficult question to answer given how much this changes based on part of the river, time of year, current conditions, and other important factors.
Winter & Fall
Go small midges. Sized 18-22. RS2s (18-24), zebra midges, griffiths gnats, copper johns, and others. Emergers, ants & more. Hatches occur on the fall as well, and you may be able to match them.
Spring & Summer
Boulder Creek Fishing Guides
Rocky Mountain Anglers – https://www.rockymtanglers.com/
Front Range Anglers – https://frontrangeanglers.com/
You can also check out all of the Boulder Creek Fishing Guides in our adventure guide directory.
Current Water Flows For Boulder Creek
Directions & Parking
We can’t give directions to every parking spot, but our map highlights the river, meaning you can pinpoint your destination on Google Maps and get directions to that spot. We also highlighted major parking areas in some key sections.
There is a ton of lodging available in all of the nearby towns to these rivers. We had a fantastic weekend staying at the A Lodge in Boulder Canyon which provided us with incredibly easy access to fishing in Boulder Canyon.
Boulder Creek Fishing Photos
Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about