Fishing on OSMP
OSMP provides a variety of different opportunities for anglers: lakes and ponds hold bass and bluegill, while South Boulder Creek is home to trout. Please follow these rules and suggestions to protect our resources and keep the fishing experience great for everyone.
Visit Colorado Parks & Wildlife's website '101 places to take kids fishing' for local options.
Algae blooms at lakes and ponds advisory: The City of Boulder reminds residents and open space and parks visitors to exercise caution as sustained high temperatures have increased the risk of potentially harmful algae blooms at city lakes and ponds. In particular, the city advises residents to keep children and pets out of Wonderland Lake in north Boulder, where potentially harmful, blue-green algae blooms have been identified. Whenever community members see algae at area lakes and ponds, they should exercise significant caution to keep their pets out of those areas and avoid contact with water. Learn more about the advisory.
- Always check the trailhead regulation board before you fish for any rule changes or seasonal updates.
- If you are 16 or over, you must have a valid fishing license issued by Colorado Parks & Wildlife. You can purchase a license online or buy a fishing license at some fishing shops or sporting goods stores.
- A standard fishing license only allows you to fish with one line at a time. To fish with a second line, you must purchase an additional second rod stamp with your license for $5. Fishing with more than two lines is illegal (this includes having any additional fishing lines in the water, even if the fishing line is not attached to a fishing rod).
- Swimming is not allowed in any of OSMP’s bodies of water. Wading into ponds and lakes is prohibited at KOA Lake, Wonderland Lake, and Boulder Valley Ranch Reservoir. You may wade into creeks.
- All of the fishing along Boulder Creek (but not South Boulder Creek) is “catch and release.”
- Size and bag limits apply for some fish: minimum size for both smallmouth and largemouth bass is 15 inches, daily possession limit is five; you are only allowed one Tiger Muskie (formerly stocked in Teller Lake No.5) and it must be 36 inches or longer.
- Please note that you may not set up shelters or structures when ice fishing. Colorado’s winter temperatures fluctuate quickly – it is your responsibility to make sure the ice is thick enough to support your weight.
- Please familiarize yourself with other OSMP rules and regulations regarding dogs, fire arms, area closures etc. Regulations may change seasonally or from place to place, so always check trailhead postings for local rules.
Low-impact Fishing Protects the Resource
To preserve our fishing resources and ensure fishing enjoyment for other visitors, OSMP encourages the catch and release ethic. Please do your part and consider releasing all fish caught. To help released fish survive, return them to the water immediately. Live bait is prohibited in most of the Sawhill Ponds and Boulder Creek to help released fish survive. Artificial lures cause less damage to a fish’s mouth and are less likely to be swallowed. Please check local regulations before fishing. Learn the gentle art of releasing a fish so that it will survive the trauma of capture. This way, the fish may survive to breed, and will help keep our fishing resources plentiful.
Please do not litter on OSMP. Trash often kills wildlife when they try to eat it, or become tangled in it. Fishing line is especially deadly to wild animals – please take all your discarded line with you! Litter spoils the scenery at our ponds and creeks. Leaving litter is illegal and could result in a summons and a stiff fine. Please pick up any plastic trash you find - even if it isn't yours. You might save an animal's life.
Don’t Spread the Pests!
Anglers can unintentionally spread a number of very damaging environmental pests, such as Eurasian water milfoil (a noxious water plant) or New Zealand mud snails, tiny snails that spread rapidly and take over creeks.
The infestation of mud snails on Boulder Creek is so severe that parts of the creek are now closed to all visitation in an effort to halt the snails’ spread. Please respect these posted closures; information and maps of the New Zealand Mudsnail closures.
Special Note about Bull Frogs
Bull frogs are another noxious pest species in OSMP’s ponds and lakes. You can enjoy the great taste of frog legs AND do the environment a big favor by harvesting them.
Bull frog collection requires a valid fishing license for anglers 16 years of age or older. There is no limit to the number of bull frogs you can take. That said …
Know your frogs – Bull frogs are large and uniformly green or gray without markings. The rare Northern Leopard Frog is smaller and is covered with black spots. Although it is unlikely that you would mistake the two, please take extra care since leopard frogs are vanishing from Colorado’s waterways. The Woodhouse Toad is also common around many ponds; it is inedible and protected.
Bull frogs are easy to capture at night with a flashlight and a dip net or a gig (a fork-like harpoon on a long rod). During the day, try casting a fish hook with a red piece of cloth near the frog, who may try to swallow it as you reel it in.
Where to Go
Located on 57th Street & Valmont Road, KOA Lake is a great place to fish with kids. The lake lies along a bike path. Dogs must be leashed. A float tube is allowed for the purposes of fishing at KOA Lake. A float tube, also known as a belly boat or kick boat, is a device which suspends a single occupant in the water from the seat down and is not propelled by oars, paddles or motors. No kayaks, carry-on boats, watercraft, inner tubes, or wadding and swimming are permitted.
The many small lakes at Sawhill Ponds provide a wide variety of fishing experiences for bass, sunfish, bluegill and carp. State rules apply; please check for current regulations. The area is rich in wildlife: watch for nesting birds, Canada geese, bald eagles and muskrat. Dogs must be leashed to protect wildlife. Fishing is prohibited between midnight and 5 a.m. There is a wooden fishing platform and covered picnic area that are accessible to wheelchairs. A float tube is allowed for the purposes of fishing. A float tube, also known as a belly boat or kick boat, is a device which suspends a single occupant in the water from the seat down and is not propelled by oars, paddles or motors. No kayaks, carry-on boats, watercraft, inner tubes, or wadding and swimming are permitted.
There are two Teller Lakes (Teller No. 5 and Teller Lake South). Teller Lake No. 5 is accessed from the North Teller Farm trailhead at the very eastern end of Valmont Road. The other lakes can be reached from the South Teller Farm trailhead on Arapahoe Road. Teller Lake South is close to the JUMP bus route, which passes close by the turn off on Arapahoe Road.
Please be aware of dog regulations – dogs are not allowed at Teller No. 5, and must be leashed within 100 yards of the water at Teller Lake South.
A gem of north Boulder, Wonderland Lake is a great place to fish with kids. A trail is located on the eastern side of the lake, although many parts of the shoreline are closed to protect wildlife. This site can be accessed from all bus lines that run along north Broadway, such as the SKIP, and is located along a bike path. Use of boats or flotation devices, and wading into the water, are not allowed.
The creek is popular for catch and release fly fishing; only flies and artificial lures may be used on Boulder Creek and fish must be returned immediately to the water. Please note that part of the creek to the east of Boulder is closed to prevent the spread of New Zealand mud snails.
South Boulder Creek
The creek is popular for catch and release fly fishing. The creek can be accessed from the South Mesa Trailhead. Use of boats or flotation devices is not allowed, but you may wade into the creek.