Fishing spots in Fort Collins: The perfect quarantine sport

Bailey Shepherd

Quarantine and lockdown have posed a plethora of problems for people living every lifestyle. Some people may be finding it challenging to engage in outdoor activities while also adhering to state and local health guidelines. 

Sports have made a comeback on professional and some college levels, but for those looking for a sport that doesn’t require much effort for social distancing, fishing is a good way to indulge in the outdoors during these trying times.

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Fort Collins offers a wide variety of locations for anglers of all skill levels to get their fix. Below is a shortlist of some spots that offer diverse catching opportunities and aren’t too far from home in the city.

Sheldon Lake

A panoramic shot of Sheldon Lake Sept. 22. (Reed Slater | The Collegian)

Located in City Park and just about a mile from the CSU campus, Sheldon Lake offers a close-to-home fishing experience that novice and experienced anglers alike can enjoy.

There is an extensive boardwalk along the northern side of the lake as well as a dock on the west side that make great spots to cast a line from. There are also plenty of pull-offs from the sidewalk around the lake that offer seamless access to the banks where it is just as easy to cast.

The lake boasts a diverse population of fish, including largemouth and smallmouth bass, trout, and catfish. Beginner anglers may find success using live worms or nightcrawlers, which are trout favorites, while jigs and crank lures may reap rewards for those who opt for a cast and reel approach.

Kingfisher Point Natural Area

Rocky banks at Kingfisher Point Sept. 22. (Reed Slater | The Collegian)

Just a few hundred feet north of the intersection of Prospect and Timberline roads, Kingfisher Point, an often-overlooked fishing spot, is one of 15 natural areas in and around Fort Collins that permits fishing. 

The unassuming pull-off for this area is on the west side of Timberline Road. There are two ponds located on the north and south side of the main walking trail. Anglers should spend most of their time casting into the northwest pond, as the majority of the southwest pond’s fish population was killed off in 2013, possibly due to water nutrient issues that arose from agriculture.

You can expect a wide variety of species in the northwest pond including sunfish, largemouth bass, yellow perch, shiners and carp. Using grub baits like worms as well as spinners that shine well in the opaque water might improve your luck.

Riverbend Ponds Natural Area

An old wooden bridge provides a broad view of Riverbend Ponds Sept. 22. (Reed Slater | The Collegian)

On the east side of Timberline Road and just a few paces from Kingfisher Point, the fishing options at Riverbend Ponds Natural Area are almost limitless.

There is no shortage of spots to throw a line out there, with there being seven ponds for anglers to choose from. The northern ponds near the parking lot are easily accessible from the trail and offer great diversity of species, with gizzard shad, bass, crappies, catfish and carp all present.

For those who opt for a lengthier walk along the trail, the lower ponds offer similar varieties of fish as the upper four. Anglers beware, however, due to the heavy vegetation of the area: limbs and branches often fall in the ponds and pose some snag threats along with the dense underwater vegetation. Cast with care.

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Horsetooth Reservoir

You can’t discuss the outdoors around Fort Collins without mentioning Horsetooth.

If you have access to a boat or a way to get out on the open water, this spot offers the best opportunity to reel in some big game with a well-cast crank lure or a trusty worm. You have a great chance of reeling in some impressive walleye and trout with the use of the right bait.

For those who look to cast from the shore, the beaches and coves on the west side of the reservoir are havens for smaller panfish and bass that are easily accessible if you’re willing to search long enough for a spot away from the cliff jumpers and paddle boarders.

Feel free to utilize this article as a guide to start your angling escapades as the summer winds down, and happy fishing!

Bailey Shepherd can be reached at sports@collegian.com or @B_Sheps on Twitter