The Colorado Fishing Atlas once again led us to a couple of fun little fishing holes near the Salida/Buena Vista area. They were both in beautiful locations within a few miles from each other, surrounded by the Collegiate Peaks, with Mt. Princeton being the most prominate in that area at 14,000 ft. Both fishing holes were family friendly, in fact there were several families at each lake with kids of all ages having a great time catching 10″-12″ stocked rainbow trout. There were also anglers like us just having fun catching and releasing.
Chalk Lake is just inside of the San Isabel National Forest boundary on County Rd. 162 and has a USFS campground within walking distance of the lake. Wrights Lake is a SWA on County Rd, 289. This is an easy 2 1/2 hour drive from the Denver area. There are also many activites in the area including hiking, horseback riding, the well known Mt. Princeton Hot Springs and Resort.
The first stop we made was at Wrights Lake State Wildlife Area. This lake is stocked with rainbow trout, cutbows and snake river cutthroat according to the Colorado Fishing Atlas. There was a parking area close by and an easy walk to the lake through the latched gate. This body of water has special regulations. You can fish with artificial flies and lures only. We went prepared to use our fly rods or ultralight spinning gear with lures.
Earlier in the week we picked up some new flies at the fly shop and were eager to give them a try. They were olive in color and appeared to be liked by the rainbows and cutbows. We caught at least 15 fish a piece within a couple hours. We fished the area to the left of the entrance down to Chalk Creek. The fish were aggressive and liked a fast retrieve. This is also a great place for beginners to practice their fly fishing skills.
After lunch we decided to head down to Chalk Lake. This was a beautiful little lake surrounded by the mountains and trees with deep blue clear water. There is a parking lot with a few picnic tables and a bathroom available. This is a self-pay $7.00 fee area. It’s a family friendly place with several families surrounding the lake fishing and picnicing. We did not have an issue finding a place to fish, but we did go on a weekday.
Chalk Lake is stocked with rainbow trout, cutbow, and snake river cutthroat according to the Colorado Fishing Atlas. You can use artificial lures and flies or night-crawlers in this lake. We used our same olive colored fly from Wrights Lake and had success catching rainbow trout and even a brown trout, which was not listed on the Fishing Atlas.
Both of these spots are popular because of their location and ease of access. If you want to get a spot for the day, I would suggest getting there early, enjoy the fishing and take a picnic lunch. If you want to take your chances and pop in to fish a bit, I am sure you will be able to find a spot. Like I stated earlier, we went on a week day, so I can not say how busy the weekends get. Both lakes appear to stay well stocked for the summer. Have fun and catch lots of fish.