Fly Fishing In Durango

Durango happens to be a fly fishing hub for anglers. There are high mountain streams and lakes, big rivers, and local reservoirs to choose from. If an angler is willing to drive an hour, there are unlimited fishing options in the Durango area. 

The Animas

Animas brown while fly fishing in Durango

The Animas River is the closest fishing option in Durango. It flows directly through town and offers a wide variety of water to be fished. The Animas will test anyones fishing ability when it comes to catching mature trout. Filled with fast water, big boulders, deep holes, and tight back casts, this is a river that will hone an angler’s craft. The Animas is a must if you’re going fly fishing in Durango.

Spring (Spring is around the corner as I write this blog)

As spring rolls around and the CFS picks up, the Animas can be a very productive river. We typically will see larger size midges hatching and will get on and off BWO hatches. I find that the streamer fishing can be exceptional during this time period. My favorite time to streamer fish the Animas is right after the water drops in volume. 

Let’s say we get a warm night and the flows pick up 30-80 CFS. I will wait for a cold snap when the flows drop and the water clears up. This has produced some large fish and some memories that will not be forgotten. 

I assume that the fish spread out with the increase in flows and when it drops back down, the fish are re-establishing a pecking order in their feeding lanes/holes. Whether or not this is why they are more aggressive during a drop I don’t know. I do know that it’s a great time to go throw some big flies around!

The midge fishing is awesome during this time period. We will see size 18-22 midges hatching and they are typically a very dark olive or black color. One of my favorite patterns during this time period is a black beauty. I like a black body with bronze ribbing. I will typically stick to the size 18’s especially if the water is starting to pick up some color.

Probably my overall favorite searching rig on the Animas during  the spring is a size 14-16 prince nymph to a black beauty or RS2. I like an olive or light brown RS2 size 18-20. There are plenty of great fly patterns and techniques for the Animas during the springtime, but I constantly find myself going back to this rig combo. It flat out hunts fish down. This is a great rig to start with if you are just learning the Animas or are feeling lost about where to start.

Lime/Cascade Creek

Lime and Cascade creeks are great options for the small stream and scenic anglers. North of Durango by 40 minutes to an hour, these creeks are great options for people seeking seclusion and high quantities of fish.

Lime Creek

During the summer months when these streams are flowing in full, most anglers will not have to move past throwing single dry flies or dry dropper rigs. The back casts can be very limited and most of the stream fishing is fairly shallow. 

There are plenty of deep holes under waterfalls and behind boulders but these fish are pretty willing to move for a meal. A caddis or hopper dry fly with a lightning bug trailed off the back might be the only rig you ever need for these streams! 

Vallecito Reservoir 

Vallectio reservoir can be a very tricky but rewarding fishery. This reservoir sustains many different fish populations ranging from rainbow trout and kokanee salmon to northern pike and walleye. 

This lake can be very season dependent on how and where it should be fished. Because there are so many different species of fish, chances are that one of these will be in the shallows spawning. Some of these species like walleye, northern pike, and smallmouth bass are not frowned upon to fish during or right before the spawn.

Vallecito smallmouth bass

Fishing for brown trout or rainbow trout during the spawn is highly frowned upon by ethical anglers. If you see many trout pushed up in the shallows (up a river drainage from the lake) , especially larger trout than usual, then you are most likely looking at spawning fish. Although this may seem like a great discovery, you should not fish for these fish.

One of the really fun things about fly fishing on Vallecito is you never really know what you’re going to catch. I have gone up there to catch trout or smallmouth bass with small streamers and ended up catching PR walleye or nice sized pike. The fishing can be fantastic and the views are stunning. If nothing else, this is a great place to enjoy an afternoon or morning if you’re in the Durango area.

Pastorius Reservoir 

This is a reservoir that is often overlooked by anglers in the Durango area. This can be a great option for people testing lake flies and targeting multiple species. There are bass and trout and many different types of structure in the lake. 

In the evening there can be fantastic dry fly fishing. Although these fish are all stocked, they put up a great fight and can be much more picky than some would expect. When the water is cold on this reservoir, these fish can put up a great fight. I like to throw balanced leeches and callibaetis emergers off of the deep weed beds when fishing deep. 

Huck Finn Pond

Located right in the middle of Durango, this pond offers anglers the chance to test their skills. Because of its location, this pond gets hammered by spin and fly fishing anglers alike. I have always used this pond to test new flies that I tie. If I can fool fish at the Huck Finn pond, I feel that I can fool them almost anywhere else. I do know that in 2023 CPW was supposed to dredge this pond out and make it deeper. If you’re looking for a unique challenge while fly fishing in Durango, this is a great option.

Wrap Up

There are endless options if you are trying to go fly fishing in Durango. There is more water in this area than anyone can fish in a lifetime. The examples above are just a few to get people started. If you bought a map of  the surrounding area of Durango and threw a dart at it, you would probably hit a lake or river. If you have questions about surrounding water and want more in depth details about one listed above, please reach out and I would be happy to point you in the right direction! Click HERE to get ahold of us!