Dillon Reservoir is one of the most underrated reservoirs in Colorado for many reasons. One of those reasons is the number of species that reside in the lake. Many anglers target rainbow trout with salmon eggs and hope for a chance at a nice brown. The reality is that rainbows are the smallest of the fish in the lake. Here is a profile of species that live in Dillon Reservoir.
Kokanee salmon: The kokanee in Dillon Reservoir is one of only a few naturally reproducing populations in Colorado. Each fall they run upstream and turn a rosy red. They can be caught with streamers, spoons and egg patterns. Orange, purple and pink are effective colors.
Brown Trout: Dillon Reservoir is one of the top places to catch above average sized browns. With the large population of rainbow trout to feed on, browns can grow to large sizes. Twenty inch fish are caught frequently with numerous browns twenty five inches or bigger landed each year. Fall and spring are the best time to capitalize on these fish. Large baitfish imitations and minnow jigs have proven successful.
Arctic Char: If you have ever read any articles on Dillon Reservoir then you have probably heard of this fish. With Dillon Reservoir being their only home in the lower 48 states, the arctic char is truly a beautiful species. The fall colors of the char are the most spectacular. They are fast enough to catch and eat kokanee. Mysis shrimp are another major food source for these fish. The middle of summer provides a great opportunity to catch them on the fly. They run upstream for colder water. Baitfish imitations and shrimp patterns are effective.
Cutthroat Trout: This fish is less common through the lake with the large predator species roaming. If you are targeting this fish alone, your best chances are going to be on the west side near the Heaton Bay Campground. Wet flies, caddis imitations, or inline spinners seem to fool the most cutthroat trout.
Brook Trout: The brook trout is really a char. They are said to be North America’s most colorful fish. Their appearance is similar to that of the arctic char. One main distinction between the two is the arctic char has a deeply forked tail while the brook trout has a square tail. Brookies dwell in shallower parts of the reservoir, searching for terrestrials and baitfish. Beetle flies and small jerkbaits will help you have the most success.
Rainbow Trout: The Rainbow trout are the most populous fish in the lake. The rainbows are willing eaters and put up a nice fight. Rainbow trout have a distinct pink stripe down the side and an olive back. Rainbow trout will hit anything from salmon eggs to marabou jigs.