Lake-to-table dinners in the winter are closer than you think. Forget Lake Granby: Chatfield Lake and Aurora Reservoir (both fewer than 25 miles from downtown Denver) can keep anglers satisfied till the thaw. From January to mid-March, pull out 18-inch rainbow trout and 24-inch walleye. But beware: The watering holes are large by metro standards, and more water means more fickle ice—and plenty of room for your prey to hide. Tip: Head to Chatfield’s ponds just south of the lake for loads of perch, bluegill, and crappie without the crowds.
Beginners should check out Lakewood’s smaller, shallower Bear Creek Lake. The thicker ice is more stable, and the stocked trout are plentiful. Need gear? Get goods for two (minus clothes) for $70 at Ice Fishing Colorado (icefishingcolorado.com). Check safety guidelines and lake reports at wildlife.state.co.us/fishing/reports.
Read about our ice fishing excursion at Bear Creek Lake park here.