Southwestern Colorado Fishing Hot Spots

ANIMAS RIVER: The state’s newest Gold Medal water boasts many brown and rainbow trout 14-18 inches. Be aware of where you fish near Durango as there are restrictions and some private land. This river is best fished after snowmelt, from mid-April to June. Location: Take Highway 160 to Highway 550 to a stretch of the Animas River near Durango. Interactive MapSan Juan River through Pagosa Springs: The town of Pagosa supplements the Division’s stocking with large (16+ -inch trout) each year and the fishing has been quite good.  The public has access to about 2 miles of stream through town.  In addition, improvements to the habitat were made a number of years ago.Vallecito Reservoir:  Trophy northern pike are increasingly common.  One angler from Chicago (northern pike country!) commented that Vallecito Reservoir contained some of the best pike fishing he had ever experienced.  Anglers should also know that a fish consumption advisory due to elevated levels of mercury in pike over 27 inches has been posted at Vallecito Reservoir.Echo Canyon Reservoir SWA: This reservoir has a reputation of growing big largemouth bass.  The Colorado State record largemouth bass was taken here in 1997 (11 pounds, 6 ounces). Best fishing is in late spring and early summer before the submerged aquatic plants become too abundant. Located 4 miles south of Pagosa Springs on Hwy. 84.BLUE MESA RESERVOIR: The state’s best water for catching kokanee salmon and excellent for up to 16-inch rainbow trout throughout much of the year. Good ice fishing action in January and February. Trophy lake trout can be caught in the spring immediately after the ice melts. Location: Take Highway 50, 9 miles west of Gunnison. Interactive Map

GRAND MESA LAKES: On the Grand Mesa Plateau southeast of Grand Junction, some of the finest fishing waters in the state are found in the dozens of lakes, reservoirs and streams located here. Some 22 picnicking and camping areas, plus accommodations, boats, horses and guides. Contact the Delta Chamber of Commerce at (970) 874-8616. Location: From Delta, north on Highway 65. For more information on the waters, including access, size, depth, elevation, fish stocked, maps and more, check out the Fishing the Grand Mesa publication for sale from Shop@DOW. Interactive Map
GUNNISON RIVER: The Gunnison River provides some of the best trophy brown and rainbow trout fishing. Numerous fish over 16 inches can be caught, particularly in the middle stretch between Crystal Creek and the confluence with North Fork, but only foot access is available in this section. Location: Take Highway 92, 15 miles east of Delta to the Pleasure Forks turn-off (200 yards before crossing the railroad tracks). Foot access is down the Duncan, Ute, Chukar and Bobcat trails. Interactive Map
TAYLOR RIVER AND RESERVOIR: Excellent rainbow and brown trout fishing is available in the tailwater below Taylor Park Dam where some of the largest rainbows in the state can be found. Rainbows 10-14 inches are common. Trophy lake trout and northern pike are often caught, especially in May and June. Some opportunity exists for brown trout and kokanee salmon. Location: Northeast of Almont on Highway 742. Interactive Map
CONEJOS RIVER: The Conejos River is providing excellent fishing for wild brown and rainbow trout. Prolific hatches of stoneflies, caddisflies and mayflies occur from May through July. Best fishing follows snow runoff in late June and July. Special regulations apply to two stretches. Location: Lower section: from Antonito 16 miles west on Highway 17 to Aspen Glade Campground. Access is through fishing easements on private property. Upper section: from Antonito 21 miles west on Highway 17 to USFS Road 250. Drive 9 miles north to public land upstream of South Fork Conejos River Confluence. Interactive Map

HIGH MOUNTAIN LAKES: Numerous scenic small lakes above 10,000 feet in elevation provide excellent fishing for cutthroat, rainbow and brook trout. Trout in these pristine waters can be temperamental when feeding conditions are favorable. Most lakes require uphill hiking from 1-12 miles. Some better high mountain lakes are: Macey, Stout Creek, Lily, and Brush Creek lakes in the Sangre De Cristo Wilderness; and Ptarmigan and Pomeroy lakes in the Sawatch Range. Flies and small lures fished with light lines in the morning and evening is usually best. Location: San Isabel National Forest. Inquire at Division of Wildlife or Forest Service offices in Pueblo or Salida.

RIO GRANDE: The mighty Rio Grande begins its long journey to the Gulf of Mexico high in the San Juan. Look for good brown and rainbow trout fishing from Rio Grande Reservoir downstream to Del Norte. Fly-fishing is best June through July when stonefly and mayfly hatches dominate fish diets. The Gold Medal section from South Fork to Del Norte provides trophy brown trout. Location: West of Del Norte and north of South Fork to Creede. There is easy access to the river via highways 160 and 149. Much of the river is privately owned, but public access is excellent through numerous state leases. Interactive Map

ROAD CANYON RESERVOIR SWA: This is a productive cold-water reservoir loaded with brook and rainbow trout. Fishing is best in the spring months following ice melt. Easy access is allowed via USFS Road 520. Location: From Creede, 25 miles west on Highway 149 to USFS 520, then 4 miles west to reservoir. Interactive Map

SANCHEZ RESERVOIR SWA: Quality-sized yellow perch and trophy northern pike dominate the catch at this cool-water reservoir in the San Luis Valley with walleye also being caught. Fishing is best following ice melt in May and June. Popular lures include plastic jigs and crankbaits worked along the rocky shoreline. A concrete boat ramp and camping is allowed east of the boat ramp. Location: From San Luis, 3 miles east on Highway 152 to Highway 242, then 5.2 miles south. Anglers should take note of this mercury warning issued by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment. Interactive Map






Colorado Vacatons and Outdoors


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