As a renowned hub for outdoor activities, Durango, Colorado, is surrounded by some of the finest fly fishing destinations in the United States. Whether you’re an experienced angler or a novice looking to cast your first line, the waters around Durango offer something for everyone. Let’s delve into the top fly fishing spots in the area.
Durango, Colorado, nestled within the Animas River Valley, is a fly fishing enthusiast’s dream. The town itself offers a rich history, a vibrant culinary scene, and plenty of attractions for when you’re not on the water. Here’s our detailed review of Durango for your upcoming fly fishing trip.
Whether you’re looking for a simple fishing lodge or a luxury resort, Durango has you covered:
- Blue Lake Ranch: An idyllic bed and breakfast that offers private cottages and suites, Blue Lake Ranch is just a short drive from the best fly fishing spots. Website
- O-Bar-O Cabins: Situated on the Florida River, these cabins give you fly fishing access right on your doorstep. Website
- DoubleTree by Hilton Durango: If you prefer more urban accommodations, the DoubleTree is located in downtown Durango and offers beautiful views of the Animas River. Website
Durango offers a myriad of dining options perfect for recapping the day’s catch:
- Ken & Sue’s: This upscale casual dining restaurant offers a diverse menu and a fantastic wine selection. Website
- Grassburger: For a quick yet delicious meal, Grassburger offers burgers made from 100% grass-fed beef. Website
- East by Southwest: After a long day on the river, unwind with some sushi and cocktails at this upscale Asian fusion restaurant. Website
When you’re taking a break from fishing, Durango offers numerous attractions:
- Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad: Enjoy the breathtaking views of the San Juan Mountains on this historic steam train. Website
- Historic Downtown Durango: Explore the city’s rich history, shop in local boutiques, and enjoy a variety of dining options.
- Purgatory Resort: If you’re visiting during the winter, don’t miss the skiing and snowboarding at Purgatory Resort. Website
- Animas Museum: Learn about the history and culture of the Animas River Valley at this local museum. Website
From the tranquil waters of the Animas River to the gourmet dining and diverse attractions, Durango provides an ideal base for your fly fishing trip. Whether you’re here for the fishing season or just a weekend getaway, Durango’s blend of outdoor activities and urban comforts make it a destination you’ll want to revisit time and again.
Top Fly Spots Durango:
The Animas River, flowing directly through Durango, is a freestone river famed for its high-quality trout fishing. It’s home to rainbow trout, brown trout, and Colorado River cutthroat trout.
Key Spots and Tips
- North of Durango: The stretch of the river running north of Durango is particularly productive, with large, healthy trout populations.
- Durango Town Stretch: For urban fishing, the stretch running through the town of Durango offers excellent angling opportunities. Remember to check local regulations, as some parts of this stretch are catch-and-release only.
- Hatch Season: During the hatch season, fishing with Blue Winged Olives and Caddis can yield excellent results.
San Juan River
Just a short drive south of Durango, the San Juan River is a world-class tailwater fishery below Navajo Dam in New Mexico. It boasts an astounding trout population, with estimates of 70,000-80,000 fish per mile.
Key Spots and Tips
- Quality Waters Section: The 3.75-mile stretch downstream of the dam, known as the “Quality Waters,” is teeming with rainbow and brown trout. This stretch is fly fishing only and largely catch-and-release.
- Texas Hole: This deep, slow-moving pool is a particularly abundant fishing spot. Nymph fishing is very productive here, especially with patterns that mimic midges and annelids.
- Braids and Channels: The section downstream of Texas Hole, with its various braids and channels, is excellent for wading and offers more solitude.
The Pine River, a tributary of the Los Pinos River, provides excellent fly fishing opportunities near Vallecito Reservoir, about 25 miles northeast of Durango.
Key Spots and Tips
- Below Vallecito Dam: The stretch below the dam is accessible and offers excellent chances for rainbow and brown trout.
- Hatch Season: During the Mayfly, Caddis, and Stonefly hatches, dry fly fishing can be incredibly effective.
The Dolores River, west of Durango, offers diverse fishing opportunities with its freestone upper section and tailwater below McPhee Reservoir.
Key Spots and Tips
- Upper Dolores: The upper freestone section, accessible via Highway 145, offers excellent fishing for wild brown and cutthroat trout, especially during the Stonefly and Mayfly hatches.
- Lower Dolores: Below the dam, the tailwater can yield great results. However, be aware of the water release schedule from McPhee Reservoir, as this can significantly impact fishing conditions.
Each of these rivers offers unique fly fishing experiences within a short distance of Durango, Colorado. Whether it’s the urban accessibility of the Animas River, the high fish density in the San Juan River, the serene settings of the Pine River, or the diverse offerings of the Dolores River, you’re sure to find a fishing spot that suits your preferences. Always remember to check local regulations, respect the environment, and practice catch and release to ensure these waters remain fruitful for future generations.
Check out Our Review of the Patagonia Guidewater Backpack