The Durango fishing is some of the best the USA. From the San Juan mountain high country to the semi-arid San Juan river tailwater, world-class fly fishing for trophy size trout awaits the angler year-round.
From the wild and free-flowing Animas river which can be fished in the middle of town to remote high country lakes in the middle of the largest wilderness area in Colorado, the Weminuche Wilderness, to the world famous tailwaters of the San Juan River below Navajo Dam, the Durango area has it all. In the next few paragraphs, you will be introduced to the Durango area fly fishing experience. We hope this Durango fishing and Durango fly fishing information will help you have a wonderful fishing experience in Durango!
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The Best Durango Fishing Spots
The San Juan River
The San Juan is a lunker-infested piece of tailwater with an amazing fish density. Because of this, it is also often crowded with fishermen, despite being far from any major metropolitan area. Located in northwestern New Mexico , it holds 10 miles of excellent water. Rainbows predominate and average 14″ – 20″, with bigger daddies not hard to find. The river can be fished year-round. Want to catch a 10-pound monster? This may be your place.
There’s even a stretch called “Lunker Alley.” Within Navajo State Park, the first three miles below Navajo Dam is the Quality Waters section, which is catch and release, barbless flies and lures only.
The San Juan can either be waded or floated, and fished year-round. When wading, be sure to have breathable waders with warm base layers and slip-resistant boots (felt and/or cleats). During run-off in May and June, the channel braids can be waded in addition to other areas which are wadeable throughout the year. Wading is made convenient by the numerous parking areas close to the river and the fact that the land is public. If you prefer floating, you can take a 14-mile trip down to the town of Blanco.
Most do the three mile Quality Waters float—it is very popular. Trout feed regularly on leeches and other aquatic worms — hence the famous San Juan Worm pattern and the popularity of leech and Wooly Bugger imitations. Trout eggs can also be successful in late fall and winter. More traditional hatching insects abound as well (mayflies, caddisflies, and particularly midges, which are important year-round). Hatches to consider fishing are Blue-Winged Olives (spring and fall), Pale Morning Duns (summer to early fall), and Caddisflies (scattered). Wet fly fishing is outstanding, but numerous hatches also provide excellent surface fishing.
The Animas River
The Animas is a stunning, free-flowing river that tumbles its way through Durango, Colorado before heading into New Mexico and merging with the San Juan. The Animas has been designated Gold Medal status by the state of Colorado and this four miles of river flows right through Durango. The Gold Medal section runs from the 160 bridge at the Doubletree down to the River Road Bridge behind Home Depot. Rivers in the state only earn this status by high numbers of quality trout.
There is public access in Durango and just south on the Southern Ute Reservation. A separate fishing license is required to fish on the Ute Reservation. You can purchase the Ute License at Duranglers or in Ignacio at the Sky Ute Casio or Thriftway.
Cutthroat, rainbows, and browns are the main trout species that live within the river and the average fish is 12 to 16 inches. However 18 to 20 inch fish are common. Monster trout in the 7 to 10 pound range do in fact lurk in the Animas and only show themselves once in awhile. Sight nymphing, stripping streamers and casting dries to these wild and planted fish make it a fantastic wade or float fishing. The season on the Animas River is year-round.
On occasion there will be slush in the river during really cold periods such as mid winter. Also, the river will become muddy and high during spring run-off in May. On the more unique ways to reach the upper Animas is by train to the upper canyon. This is one of the ways to access this section of the river.
Vallecito Lake area is a perfect Durango getaway for summer fishing vacations, fall durango fly fishing, even winter ice fishing. This is the best location for a day trip of only 18 miles out of downtown Durango to catch a record-breaking Rainbow, German Brown or Cutthroat Trout. Visitors also catch Northern Pike and Kokanee Salmon. Pike fishing is also great here. In fact, the previous Colorado pike record holder was out of Vallecito.
From January 1st through December 31st of each year the waters of Colorado are open to fishing year-round, except as otherwise noted in their regulations. You can fish for free in Colorado without a license only on the first full weekend of June, each year.
A fishing license is required for people 16 years of age and older. Children under the age of 16 are not required to have a fishing license. It is not necessary that a licensed angler accompany a person under age 16. The annual license dates are April 1st to March 31st.
A resident fishing license is $26 per year. Residents 64 and older are free. Nonresident Fishing Licenses are $56 per year. A five day license is $21, a one day license is $9. Please note that the $.25 fee on each license goes to the Colorado Search and Rescue fund.