1. Home
  2.  » 
  3. Fly Fishing
  4.  » Fly Fishing the Rio Grande

Fly Fishing the Rio Grande

by | Jun 3, 2021 | Fly Fishing, South Fork | 0 comments

Our guide to Fly fishing the Rio Grande

Traveling from Alamosa, Colorado east to west, the first river you’ll cross is the Rio Grande, which flows southeast off the Continental Divide. From its headwaters high in the San Juan Mountains, the Rio Grande flows into the Rio Grande Reservoir just outside of the picturesque town of Creede then continues downstream into South Fork before shifting south through New Mexico, into Texas, and eventually, the Gulf of Mexico.  The Colorado section of the Rio Grande is one of the most exciting and productive fisheries in all of the SW and section of Gold Medal Waters every avid fly fisherman should visit numerous times in their life. 

Above Rio Grande Reservoir, the river is a high country creek and an excellent place for creek fishing and exploration of small feeder streams. In this area, you’ll find plenty of public access, and the fishing is generally pretty good but also inconsistent depending on other anglers pressuring the fish. If you are planning to stay in the area overnight, public camping areas are located just below the dam. For the more adventurous, head up the pass to camp. Always make sure to check the local Rio Grande USFS guidelines on fires and road closings in the region.

Fishing the animas river

The Rio can be overcrowded during peak fishing but there still is excellent access along miles of stretches of USFS and CPW public land 

If you are looking for small creek fishing in a high mountain setting, you’ll want to drive above the main Rio Grande Reservoir along rugged Forest Service Roads to one of the upper stretches above the Creede. However, don’t expect easy access; most of these routes into the upper waters require 4 wheel drive and plenty of clearance, so pack a lunch and bring good shoes or plan on camping for a few nights along the main stem of the river or feeder creeks

Once you are down stream from the Reservoir, the river flows past the town of Creede, then through  Coller State Wildlife Area, which has interspersed public access but will get crowded during the fishing season. Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has a number of public access points there, but again, anglers will not find many opportunities to fish unpressured waters. From South Fork to Del Norte, the river becomes a fun, mellow float but public access becomes very limited.  Most access past South Fork is private and will require landowner permission. The river remains wide open until it dumps diversion structure at Del Norte.

If you have river experience, the Rio Grande is a good river to float, with plenty of public put-ins and takeouts. It’s also a great place to experience the pristine waters that private fishing can provide. If you aren’t an experienced rafter, it’s always best to go with a guide. We’ve seen one too many boats wrapped around the railroad trestle bridge! 

Between March and May, the Rio Grande is one of Colorado’s hidden gems. You’ll find some good springtime floats and have the river all to yourself. The river boasts both public and private water with plenty of good stretches where anglers can fish. It’s best to catch it now because during the summer, the Rio Grande becomes a popular destination fishery. 

 

 

Fishing the animas river

Source: colorado.com

If you have river experience, the Rio Grande is a good river to float, with plenty of public put-ins and takeouts. It’s also a great place to experience the pristine waters that private fishing can provide. If you aren’t an experienced rafter, it’s always best to go with a guide. We’ve seen one too many boats wrapped around the railroad trestle bridge! 

Between March and May, the Rio Grande is one of Colorado’s hidden gems. You’ll find some good springtime floats and have the river all to yourself. The river boasts both public and private water with plenty of good stretches where anglers can fish. It’s best to catch it now because during the summer, the Rio Grande becomes a popular destination fishery. 

Expedition Outside has private access to several high quality fishing spots on this stretch.

private water fly fishing on the lower animas

The Rio grande River Flies and fish

In the very early spring, the Rio maintains a smooth flow prior to runnoff.  Since this river is a world class brown trout fishery streamers will move trout holding behind slack water.  Nymphing can also work with typical cased caddis and smaller black patterns.  Once the temperatures increase and the snowpack begin to melt in the high country flows and turbidity make fishing extremely difficult particularly without a drift boat. It becomes a waiting game for anglers, as anticipation for the Salmonfly Hatch is on every anglers mind.  

There is a two week period each late spring or very early summer when the Rio Grande turns into the Super Bowl of fly fishing, it is the Salmonfly Hatch.  We keep close contact with out property owners along the river and are updating reports regularly.  But once the action begins start by throwing large beaded dark pattern girdlebugs, then as the Salmonflies turn into spinners looking for mates start by throwing large Chubby Chernobyles to get rising fish.  Look along the willows on the water edge and focus on fish stuffing themselves with these insects, while also enjoying the atmosphere of mothernature providing a bounty of rich protein for birds, fish and other critters.   

In the higher mountain creeks above the reservoir, you can expect to find plenty of cutthroat trout. Below the Rio Grande Reservoir through South Fork, you’ll find mostly medium brown and rainbow trout—lots of action, but the big monsters are further downriver.

Stretches east of South Fork is where the big fellas start to appear. In the slack winding oxbows and canyons, the realm of larger territorial brown trout begins. Trophy fish can and are caught on salmon fly patterns, large girdle bugs, and mice. This is predatory water, reflective in the great, aggressive action.  

 

Other fly fishing fishing spots nearby

Whether you are looking to fly fish the San Juan’s high mountain creeks, the Piedra’s canyon gorge, or the Animas River’s Gold Medal Waters, this area’s got something for every angler.

With some help from our friends at Duranglers Flies and Supplies we put together a list of some of our favorite rivers and fishing spots for you to discover.

Each week on Thursday mornings we will be updating our blog with a new location and some advice to help you make the most out of your weekend fly fishing trip.

That said, spring conditions can be volatile. Before you head out, you’ll have to be very pragmatic when choosing which river you intend to fish, be well aware of its specific turbidity, and understand the runoff of the winter snow melt. To have a safest, most enjoyable experience, we always recommend going out with experienced local guides.

 

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Share via
Copy link