July: the pinnacle of summer. When waders are traded for sandals, nymph rigs are swapped for dry flies, and the stresses of life melt away every time we take a step into a river. This time of year always seems to slip away far to fast and we end up kicking ourselves for not getting on the water enough. You can only do so much with life’s responsibilities banging at the door…but sometimes it’s nice to bolt the door and escape through the back. Fortunately, Durango is chock full of escapes to keep even the most pressing of life’s stress at bay for at least a day.
Keep this in mind: every single river, lake, or reservoir we have in Durango fishes good in July. The snows are gone, the high country is open, and most fish will be looking up. Now, more than ever, is the time to fish the Durango area. Make sure you stop by the shop or give us a call at 1888-347-4346 for the most up to date information.
San Juan River Quality Waters – Fishing had been getting a little tough on the San Juan with flows at 4000 cfs…but flows have been dropped summer levels of around 800 for the forseeable future. This means that fishing has been great and sight casting to feeding fish is now the game. Floating and wading are both fantastic options for the San Juan. Make sure to have a good selection of terrestrials on hand; July tends to bring hoppers and ants in abundance.
Animas – This July, the Animas has been fishing incredible. Yellow Sallies, caddis and drakes have been hatching in abundance and fish will be eating on top. Mornings and evenings are your best bet for the dry fly bite, but midday can be very productive with nymphs and emergers. Make sure to have a few streamers on hand and it would also be prudent to try a mouse…
Rio Grande – Our Rio Grand float season is winding down for they year, and what a great one it was. Mid July will bring about the Rio wading season for anglers looking to stalk wild fish on a wild river. Mornings and evenings will be your best bet, with midday putting a lot of fish down with the heat. PMDs, Caddis, and even hoppers will have a showing this month. If nothing else, throw a streamer.
Piedra – The Piedra has dropped to summer flows and is fishing quite well. Cloudy days will bring hatches of drakes; otherwise you may have to get creative in the heat of the day. Caddis may have a showing but nymph rigs will be key until you see fish snouts on top. An attractor nymph such as a Pat’s Rubberlegs with a Copper John or Pheasant tail dropped behind will be your best producer. Moths have had a big showing this month on the Piedra, and a spruce moth pattern should bring a few fish to the surface. Large Elk Hair Caddis or Fat Head Moths are solid options. Watch for hatches of Yellow Sallies, PMDs, and Golden Stones this month too.
Upper San Juan – Wade season is on in the Upper San Juan River Drainage. While public access is limited on the main stem, it would be a good idea to check out many of the high country tributaries of the Upper SJ…there are some secrets worth keeping over there. Look for hatches of Yellow Sallies, PMDs, Caddis, and the occasional drake.
Dolores – With the big water release on the lower D, we should see solid fishing. Hatches of Caddis and PMDs will be strong in July, but the most important bug might just be the hopper. If you get over there, you will know what I mean. Hopper dropper rigs should be your go to. Look for rising fish and walk softly, you don’t want to spook your quarry or stir up a rattler. The upper Dolores will be coming into summer fishing shape right about now. The Dolores also has a whole heap of incredible tributaries that are worth your time and effort.
Los Pinos – Summer flows have arrived on the Pine, and fishing will be good. The lower water suffers from a widespread condition known as “Private Property”, so unless you know someone or are fishing with us on the private section we have access to; you may want to head above Vallecito. Above, fish will be looking up to stones, caddis, PMDs, and terrestrials such as moths and hoppers. Public water begins after a 3 mile hike, but the fishing improves with every mile beyond that. If you are fortunate enough to have access to the lower water: standard nymph rigs will be a must, but hoppers, PMDs, and Caddis should also be on your radar.
Creeks and the High Country – Our full on, dry fly, hike and wade, beautiful views creek season is upon us. Grab a map, some good hiking shoes, and hit the backcountry. Standards such as Hermosa, Cascade, Lime, and the Upper Animas are fishing great…but they are the standards. There is more water in the Durango area than you could fish in a lifetime, so grab a map and make sure you check out our guide to fly fishing the high country for some tips on finding the honey hole.
Local Lakes – The warm weather has slowed down our pike fishing…but our bass and trout fishing is going strong. Lakes of the high country are fishing strong with almost any fly you can get in front of the fish. The effort won’t be in your fly selection, but in getting there…
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