Note: This report is a part of the FlyCast Lite reporting program and is updated seasonally or in the event of substantial changes that alter fly fishing tactics. FlyCast Lite reports are intended to give anglers a high level overview on seasonal conditions and general fishing tactics.
Pre-runoff has arrived and flows are on the rise. While clarity is low, fishing has been great! Expect water clarity to decrease further over the next couple of months given snowmelt from the high country. Nymphing continues to be the most effective mode of fishing right now, but surface action is picking up with strong midge and BWO hatch activity. When nymphing, focus on the slow runs and deep pools ensuring plenty of weight to your rig. However, on warmer days, particularly during the afternoon, don't hesitate to fish the faster moving water and areas with structure. As far as flies go, lead with comparatively bigger attractor patterns with a little flash. Pat's Rubber Legs, Barr's Tungstones, caddis larva, Pig Stickers, Rainbow Warriors, Flashback PTs and red Copper Johns are all great options. Otherwise, trail one or more smaller midge and/or baetis larva/emergers depending on the time of day. Streamers have been very effective in the afternoons with mild temps and off-colored water. If you go this route, hit the banks hard and don't be afraid to make a splash as it will trigger the trout's predatory instincts and turn a few heads. Otherwise, keep an eye out for surface activity. Midges are present in high numbers and the BWO hatch has been great as well. If you see actively rising trout, rig up a dry or dry dropper and focus on the soft water where trout are looking up.
The Animas is a freestone river that originates high in the San Juan mountains in southwestern Colorado and spans over 126 miles before reaching the San Juan River in the northern town of Aztec, New Mexico. From the confluence of the West and North fork, the river travels south through Eureka and Howardsville, Colorado, before turning southeast to Silverton. From Silverton, the Animas travels due south through the Animas Canyon along the Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to the town of Durango. The stretch through the town of Durango was recently recognized as a Gold Medal Water and is arguably the best place to fish. The Animas is a large river with some sections spanning 100 feet wide. It is home to a number of trout species, but is most known for its rainbow and brown trout. While the majority of the trout you catch will be in the 18 to 20 inch range, it is home to some of the state’s biggest browns.
With the exception of early spring run-off, the Animas can be fished year round as the river doesn't freeze over given comparatively mild winter weather. Float fishing, via raft or drift boat, is a great way to go, but you are limited to a short window (late spring to early summer) depending on flows and snowpack. Otherwise, wading is another highly effective method of fishing. Wading allows you to take your time fishing the nooks and crannies and really seek out those trophy trout. Sight fishing is a must in times of high water clarity as these trout can be fairly skittish and selective. While freestones are often forgiving, the Animas can be humbling even for the most experienced angler. As far as aquatic bug life goes, midges are present year round and will entice trout in both nymph and adult dun (dry fly) form. In the spring and fall you’ll find BWOs and damselflies among other cross seasonal hatches. In summer, caddis are abundant, but you’ll also find PMDs, golden stoneflies, yellow sallies, green drakes and various terrestrials in the water. During this time, the hopper dropper action is particularly effective, but you can’t go wrong with a nymph rig, similar to the rest of the year. In fall and spring, streamers are effective as trout are particularly territorial and aggressive given spawn activity.
There are a number of great walk-in access points, but the easiest and most popular stretch is in the town of Durango. There is a seven mile stretch that starts at the 32nd bridge and runs all the way down to the Rivera bridge where you’ll find easy parking and public walk-in access. Otherwise, wading access is tricky inAnimas Canyon and south of Durango.
The most popular stretch to float is through town as it is all public water, allowing you to anchor down and get out of the boat and fish. There are a number of put-ins and take outs between the 9th Street boat launch/takeout and the Animas River takeout south of town. Otherwise, you can access the water via the Trimble Boat launch and takeout, north of town, in Animas canyon. This section see’s less pressure as it is mostly private. With this in mind, you cannot anchor down in private water and if flows are too low to float through without portaging, you may get yourself in trouble with landowners or Johnny Law.