A hidden gem in Southern Colorado’s Spanish Peaks, Lathrop State Park is home to two warm-water lakes that provide ample opportunities to land legendary catches. To the west is Horseshoe Lake, a no-wake lake spanning about 150 acres, where kayaks, canoes, and other non-motorized watercraft are permitted. To the east is Martin Lake, which spans about 180 acres and where motorized watercraft are permitted during certain times of the year.
Well stocked and surrounded by breathtaking hiking trails and mountain scenery, Lathrop State Park can be an ideal destination for anglers who are looking to break records with their next catch.
If you’re searching for a new place to fly fish in Southern Colorado or if you’re planning your next trip to Horseshoe Lake or Martin Lake, here is everything you need to know to make your next Lathrop State Park fly fishing trip one of your best excursions yet.
Best Places for Lathrop State Park Fly Fishing: Horseshoe Lake & Martin Lake
The best spots for fly fishing at Lathrop State Park depend on how you prefer to fish and what you want to catch. In fact, while both lakes are flush with bass, bluegill, catfish, trout, pike, and walleye, you’re better off fly fishing at:
Horseshoe Lake if you want to catch tiger muskies, which are only available in this lake (not in Martin Lake). You may also prefer this lake if you want to fish off of a canoe or kayak without potential interference from wakes and motorized watercraft.
- Martin Lake if you prefer to fish off motorized watercraft or if you prefer to avoid swimmers while fly fishing from the shore (though you should expect swimmers near the shore when the beach area is open).
Both Horseshoe and Martin lakes have one boat ramp located at each lake’s north end. Martin Lake also provides handicap fishing access on the west side of the lake. And, as of 2021, Horseshoe Lake features a launch for canoes and kayaks at the south end of the lake.
If you prefer to fish from the shore, you’ll have plenty of options for access points. Remember, though, it’s a good idea to bring waders and a float tube if you want to venture out more or give yourself the option to get away from swimmers during the busy season.
To check out other features of Lathrop State Park, including information about the Park’s archery range and 103 campgrounds, click here.
Best Times & Seasons for Lathrop State Park Fly Fishing
Fly fishing at Lathrop State Park is best at dusk on overcast, cooler days when water temperatures range from about 44˚ to 67˚, experts say. These conditions are ideal for feeding and movement, as warmer conditions will stress fish. You can check the latest conditions, including water temperatures and levels, for Horseshoe Lake and Martin Lake here.
Aside from checking current conditions, you can generally default to spring and fall as the best seasons for Lathrop State Park fly fishing. Summer can bring hotter temperatures that may raise water temperatures and stress fish, making fly fishing less ideal during July and August. In contrast, winter can mean ice and harsher conditions that can be much tougher for novice anglers. Still, those looking to get away from crowds and hook some big catches can enjoy Lathrop State Park fly fishing year-round.
When you’re planning a trip to this Park, here are some things to remember:
- Summer is the busiest season.
- Year-round, weekends are busier than weekdays.
- Swimming beaches open after Memorial Day.
- Motorized boats are not permitted from Nov. 1 through April 1.
- Horseshoe Lake closes from Nov. 1 through waterfowl hunting season.
- There’s a kid-friendly pond near the Martin Lake Dam that’s stocked with smaller fish that are easier for kiddos to hook. If you want to spend some time with the children in your life or give them a fishing lesson, Martin Lake Dam is a prime spot to visit.
This info may help you pinpoint better times for your Lathrop State Park fly fishing trip, based on what you prefer and what you plan to do when you come to the Park.
Gear Recommended for Lathrop State Park Fly Fishing
The best gear for fly fishing at Lathrop State Park depends on your experience, what you want to catch, and the flies you plan to use. No matter what those specifics are, you (and anyone over 16) will need a fishing license. If you’ll be fly fishing from a boat, you or the owner of the boat will need to complete a self-inspection and carry that with you when you launch.
Along with all that, the gear that’s usually recommended for Lathrop State Park fly fishing includes:
- A 9-ft 5-wt fly rod with a floating line
- A 9-ft 6-wt rod with a sink tip fly line (for heftier catches)
- A tapered 9-foot leader, with a tippet size of 3X to 6X (depending on the flies)
- A map, a guidebook, or a professional guide if you are new to the area or new to fly fishing
- A waterproof fly box
- Waders and/or a float tube (optional)
Lathrop State Park Fly Fishing Regulations
Know the regulations for Horseshoe Lake and Martin Lake fly fishing so you can have a stress-free trip that’s as productive and successful as possible. These rules include (and may not be limited to) the following:
- Muskie must be at least 36 inches long.
- Bass must measure a minimum of 15 inches long.
- Horseshoe Lake is closed for fly fishing from Nov. 1st through the close of waterfowl hunting season.
Plan Your Next Lathrop State Park Fly Fishing Trip
When your next fly fishing adventure takes you to Lathrop State Park, you can rely on Riversmith for top-quality, durable equipment that will easily and safely transport your gear. Our rod tubes, rod racks, and other top-rated equipment make it easy to pack for your next fly fishing trip to Lathrop State Park, the Gunny, the Gore, the Pan, or beyond.
At Riversmith, our anglers, engineers, and guides are always searching for new, innovative ways to solve fishermen’s problems and make their next adventure even better. We love what we do, and we are known for designing premium fly-fishing products. If fly fishing is your passion, Riversmith is here for you.
Wherever your journey takes you, we’ll keep you geared for the catch.