Top Colorado Trout Streams
A decade ago, the Animas River was thought to be just another sad story, another great river in decline. And it was.
Formerly one of the top brown trout fisheries in the West, the Animas River is now recovering from years of abuse from mining pollution. This wild, freestone river flows through awe-inspiring southwestern scenery, through wide valleys and steep canyons, past rugged mountains, continuing south from its headwaters on into New Mexico.
There used to be big brown trout caught in the Animas, but now the river is heavily stocked with rainbows, known for their athleticism and heft. The brown trout fishery is on the rise, and occasionally browns are caught that are best measured in pounds rather than inches, even in the city limits of Durango.
A few years ago, I fished here with my ubiquitous brother-in-law Kenny and hippie/geologist Tom Hauge, a neophyte to the sport of fly fishing. We took Tom to the Animas to teach him the nuances of the sport. He nodded a lot, went off to fish by himself, then later hollered at us to come look at this fish. He caught a two-pound brown and he asked us,"Well, how did I do?" We told him he did well and tried to match his fish. We caught two little rainbows and he caught two more two-pound browns. Stupid beginner's luck.
Below Durango, the river flow slows as it meanders through open meadows, coursing through reservation land. Anglers need to have a reservation fishing permit to fish this section. The fishing pressure is diminished but the fishing for big brownies if you can get flies deep to them or in the undercut banks can be phenomenal. Indeed, the Animas River has again become a hot-spot western river. I like to fish it for a couple of days when I fish the San Juan River across the border, less than a one-hour drive away.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication