The alarm always comes quicker than hoped, between the hours of “really dark” and “still dark”, when the only “dark” you want to hear about is the coffee. Times like these, the fringes of sanity are tested as multiple pre-dawn hours behind the wheel only yield a few miles traveled on mountain roads which dead end in seldom used trailheads. The altitude burns the lungs, the incline burns the legs, and the often forgotten summer cold of the mountain dawn burns the skin. Many miles beyond, where the trail is frequently lost amongst the scree, can be found waters rarely graced by man’s presence. In these wild lands of the Rocky Mountain west, the depth of hope rests upon arriving just as the sun does; when the first rays of solar energy creep over jagged peaks to ignite fabled trout waters in a display of color and light.
The planning and struggle to get here is a very small price to pay for this moment; with waters punctuated by the dimpling of breakfasting cutthroat. August in Colorado is a sure bet that the mountain passes are open, fields above treeline are (mostly) free of snow yet full of elk, and high country waters are warm enough to bring trout to the surface for an easy meal. These days of altitude exploration punctuate summer quite nicely.
Creeks and the High Country – For the explorers, the trout wanderers, the bushwackers, and the trekkers: the next two months of summer are for you. Remember: high country fly fishing is not always catching 100 8″ fish per day. Sometimes, when you put in a lot of hard work and exploration, it can often only be a one-fish day. Fortunately, that fish is usually a trout of a lifetime. They are out there, all you need is a good map and some boot leather to burn. Make sure you check out our guide to fly fishing the high country when you plan your Durango backcountry excursion.
San Juan Quality Waters – The Juan is down to 500 cfs for summer flows (after our large spring flushing flows), terrestrials are abounding, and big brown trout are holding in water easily accessed by wade and float anglers alike. With BWOs and midges in abundance, the San Juan has shaped up to be an incredible producer so far this summer.
Animas River – Monsoonal rains have brought about a new narrative coming into August for the ole Animal. Just when we thought runoff was subsiding, the rains have keep her a-rippin. This is a good thing in fact! Flows have rarely dipped below 900 cfs and the “too hot” water temps have been held off. PMDs in the mornings, caddis in the evenings, and hoppers all day! Trout have been looking up more as of late. If not, make sure you get out with your deep nymph dredging set ups and hold tight. These post-runnoff fish have been freakazoids. Look for August warm up the temps later in the month when fishing will be best in the mornings and evenings.
San Juan River in Colorado – Another freestone susceptible to the monsoonal tears of summer, the upper Juan drops quick and warms up fast. Mornings and evenings will be your best bet with nymph rigs until the PMDs and caddis show. Keep an eye out for hoppers as well, the will begin to show in droves, and a hopper dropper set up is a good option.
Rio Grande – With recent rains…the Rio is back up to floatable levels! Don’t expect this trend to last too long though, it will drop through August and wade fishing will be the only option. Dry dropper rigs will be your best bet, but keep an eye out for terrestrials.
Piedra – Moths. Yes, moths. Rain causes the Piedra to discolor, but it does clear quickly. Spruce moths abound and you can find trout sipping them in the mornings and evenings before the sun gets high. Dry/dropper rigs are the go-to throughout the day.
Dolores – The upper Dolores is still seeing fluctuation from rains but will subside into a nice rhythm of August flows soon enough. Once again, spruce moths and other terrestrials are a good choice. The lower D, on the other hand, is fishing incredibly well. Consistent hatches of PMDs are on the menu most of the day, but a hopper dropper rig will be the go to when fish are not rising. If you happen to stay out a bit too late on the lower D, a mouse would be a good fly to have as well…
Pine – The Lower Pine is being dropped to around 580 currently, what the rest of the month will hold will be a mystery. However, with these lower summer flows, you can expect bigger fish will be found on the lower sections. Above Vallecito, summer flows are on point and fishing is fantastic. Get hiking, and have some favored dries for the upper reaches. Moths will be in abundance as with many waterways that flow through dark timber. Deeper holes may hold heavier trout, so be prepared to switch to a mega deep nymph rig if necessary.
Local Lakes – If you know where to find them, the carp bite has been pretty outstanding on top lately. Ants, hoppers, crickets…the list goes on. Poppers for bass are also coming back into fashion. High country lakes are fishing very good with leeches, damselfly nymphs and dries, callibaetis nymphs and dries, chronmids, baitfish, and crayfish.
Make sure you check out our Area Rivers Reports Page for up to date flows, hatches, and fly info!