Fishing with kids in Summit County, Colorado

Dylan casts into a ‘secret spot’ in one of the many coves along the shore of Dillon Reservoir.

The lure of catching dinner is strong enough to tear kids away from their PlayStations and video games

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Getting kids outside in the age of the internet, Wii, PlayStations and Xboxes isn’t always the easiest thing, even on beautiful high country summer days, when sapphire dragonflies hover over the water and red-wing blackbirds trill from willow branches. But for some reason, perhaps that primal instinct to hunt and gather food for winter, fishing seems to do the job. Once they’ve landed that first splashy rainbow trout, most kids are hooked — and that’s a good thing.

You could probably argue that fishing is cruel and unnecessary in this day and age, but I’d respond that it’s better for a kid to respectfully catch, kill, clean and cook a trout than to drive up to the window at a fast-food joint and devour some overly processed slab of beef from who know where. And that may just be justification on my part, seeing as how my son has become obsessed with flies, lures and feeding habits of our local trout. It’s paid off at the dinner table, too. We’ve all enjoyed several fine meals of broiled or baked fish in the past few weeks. And in a natural progression of sorts, he now says he wants to learn more about fly-fishing.

Summit County is a fine place to introduce youngsters to the basics of angling, with several ponds in the area that are perfectly suited to lazy afternoons spent drowning worms. Behind Wal-Mart in Frisco, the Meadow Creek Pond is well stocked with catchable fish, and there are even several fishing decks that make it easy for anyone to get access to the water. I use the shaded picnic tables nearby to work on my laptop while Dylan and his best friend, Kellen, prowl the banks in search of a big brown.

A young angler stalks trout at the Meadow Creek Pond in Frisco, Colorado.

And since I’ve been doing that quite a bit the past few weeks, I decided to write a story about it. The best part is that Colorado doesn’t require kids under 16 to buy a license, so one you have the basic gear, you’re good to go. All the regular bag and possession limits do apply, though, and it’s up to you to know what they are.

Down in Silverthorne, Trent Park is another well-stocked pond where you aren’t even allowed to fish unless you’re a kid. When the youngsters are ready to step up a level, Silverthorne also stocks North Park pond with healthy fish to catch and release only, using artificial lures and flies. It’s a great pond to teach kids the basics of fly-fishing.

And then there’s the big water in Summit County, Dillon Reservoir. Full-service marinas in Frisco and Dillon have everything you need to stock a boat and troll the deep water, but part of the fun of fishing with kids is the exploration. There are plenty of hidden coves and beaches along the shoreline that don’t see a lot of people. And Dillon Reservoir’s reputation as an unproductive fishery is not entirely deserved. Clever anglers finding the right spot at the right time of day will be rewarded for their patience and persistence.

Dylan and Kellen enjoy the cool water of Trent Park pond on a hot day in Summit County.

Their are other great spots in the area, including Rainbow Lake, also near Frisco, and Cataract Lake, in a wilderness setting at the north end of the county. Clinton Gulch Reservoir even harbors some cutthroats, the only trout that’s truly a native of Colorado. In the higher elevations, beaver ponds along streams like the North Fork and Tenmile Creek are full of little brook trout. But I don’t want to give away all the secret spots. After all, part of fishing is finding your own secret hole.

And remember, you’re responsible for know what the regulations are wherever you fish. Check out the Colorado Division of Wildlife website for general information or stop in at a local fishing shop to pick up a copy of the fishing booklet with all the information.

This link will take you to a website with tips for making the fishing trip with kids fun and safe.

And this one even lists 101 top spots for fishing with youngsters.

Searching for cutthroat in a pond near Keystone, Colorado.
Hiking out to our ‘secret spot’ along Dillon Reservoir this week, we spotted a deer.
Shoreline fishing at Dillon Reservoir.
Who says there are no fish in Dillon Reservoir?
The prize!

3 thoughts on “Fishing with kids in Summit County, Colorado

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