Typically, late December and early January see some of our coldest temperatures in Durango. We are talking 0-degree temps for 2-3 weeks, anchor ice, and slick roads. Right now…not so much. While we are seeing some great snow in the high country (pushing above average and still coming down), Durango has been on the warm and rainy side. For anyone who likes to fly fish, this is good news. While we are getting plenty of solidified trout habitat up high (and skiable powder), our lower elevations have been much warmer, making for great winter fishing conditions.
The Animas has been hovering under 40 degrees the past few weeks, but far above freezing. The river has been ice free and trout are living it up. Rather than seeking shelter from the bitter cold and ice chunks, fish have been feeding hard on any small nymphs that drift by. Baetis, midges, and caddis larva have been on the “match the hatch” program, but don’t discount the attractor setup. Prince nymphs, SJ worms, or anything flashy should be considered.
Of course, the San Juan River below Navajo Dam remains the top option for winter fishing in our neck of the woods. We have seen the lake turnover recently, but fishing has remained steady. The benefit to off color water is that you can fish bigger flies and larger tippet. SJ worms, leeches, annelids, and eggs are all producing right now in all the classic runs. It never hurts to swing a bugger either.
Our current winter season is a time to be out on the water with amazing solitude and good trout fishing. Make sure you stop by the shop or give us a call at 1-888-347-4346 for the scoop on all our local fisheries.
San Juan River Quality Waters – The Quality Waters, like stated above, are seeing some lake turn over effect. Bigger bugs, larger, tippet, and maybe even some movement. Hey it never hurts to give your bugs a little action every now and then. Now may also be a great time to swing a streamer or leech through some likely holes.
Animas – Midday has seen some incredible fishing on the Animas as of late. Nymph rigs fished deep are hooking most trout. With the Animas as well as any winter trout fishing, if you catch one fish; don’t move. Trout will stack up in the winter. Finding a fish or two indicates that you have found a good spot with good depth and cover for wintering fish. The great thing about the Animas is that it provides a great midday fishing option when we need to break up the monotony of the winter routine.
San Juan River In Colorado – You probably knew that the banks of the San Juan in Pagosa Springs are littered with hot springs. You probably also knew that these thermal hot springs flow into the San Juan and provide hot water for the main flow in the dead of winter. You probably also knew that because of this, trout will sit below these hot springs in the deeper holes (hey trout like to pamper themselves in geo-thermal pools too), and chow on whatever floats by. I am glad you knew this already.
Rio Grande – This is not the best time to fish the Rio, mainly because it is covered in ice. If you can find open water, drop a heavy nymph rig in. Otherwise, wait until warmer late winter temps.
Piedra – Much like the Rio, the Piedra is mostly inaccessible. What is accessible is either on private or covered in ice. If you do have the opportunity to fish the Piedra. Find the deepest, darkest holes and drop in your heaviest nymphs.
Upper Dolores – Again, mostly ice by now. Fish open water with lots of weight or wait until spring.
Los Pinos – Below Vallecito: The lower Pine is very low and clear right now, but flows have been bumped up. Fish will still be very skittish, but it doesn’t hurt to try. Ok it does hurt because you will most likely get refused and that hurts your ego.
Above Vallecito: Snow and ice will make this trek very difficult. Most of the river will be frozen over.
Creeks and the High Country – Covered in snow and ice.
Local Lakes – If you like ice fishing, local lakes will be frozen enough in the next few weeks to cut a hole and drop a line.