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Southwest Colorado Fishing Update - July 2014

July 5, 2014
Author: Tucker Ladd

Our friends down at Duranglers in Durango, CO recently sent us a detailed summary of fishing conditions for the month of July.  Sounds like an ideal time to get down south and enjoy some great summer fishing, check out the report for yourself!

Durango July Fishing Report

June has come and gone and with it, a month of unreal fishing has passed.  Not to worry, July is the high point of our summer fishing season and it continues to be great in our small slice of fishing heaven.  As we wind down our Rio Grande float season and our guides head back over the hill towards Durango; we anticipate another fantastic month of great fly fishing.  Just to recap; John, Tom, and the boys spent the better part of June over in Creede, Colorado floating anglers down the Rio Grande River.  Thanks to the snow pack and temps this spring; the water flows remained constant, the bug hatches were unreal, and fishing was truly lights out for weeks on end.  Just check out this video John took of the Salmonfly hatch:

With such a great June, we anticipate another month of absolutely fantastic fly fishing in July.  As stated, the winter and spring storms have given us much needed moisture in our area.  Because of this, our local drainages are still flowing with plenty of water.  The Animas river is now just coming into great fishing condition as the water levels recede.  Caddis have been showing up in droves and if you can time it right, you may have a few hours of amazing dry fly action right through town.

The Piedra river has also been one of our favored rivers this summer with great hatches and a chance hike into areas with less crowds.  Thanks to the catch and release regulations put in place in the past few years; we have seen increases in fish size as well as numbers this year.  Make sure to have lots of stonefly nymphs when you head to this area and be prepared for a beautiful river in a beautiful setting.

Of course, the famous San Juan River tailwater below Navajo Dam is fishing like none other.  The dam releases are being steadily increased this July as other local rivers drop, so keep an eye on the flows.  These increase in flows will get fish moving around and will push more food through the system.  Also keep an eye on the weather as the first rains of our monsoon season spark an event known as the "Ant Fall".  The ant fall is a lesser known event that happens with the first rains of summer.  Hundreds of thousands of large winged ants are washed out of the cliffs above the San Juan River into the current and are helplessly gobbled up by trout.  This is unreal dry fly fishing that is not seen on the San Juan any other time of the year as the fish go into a feeding frenzy.

Speaking of great dry fly fishing; with July comes the full opening of our high country.  If you are one who seeks to explore waters off the beaten path, then you may want to look into the Weminuche Wilderness  area. High mountain lakes and streams abound in this wilderness area and are more numerous than one could fish in an entire lifetime. One of the best resources for this type of fishing is a good topographical map.  Other great creeks in our area to check out this June are:  Lime, Cascade, Florida, La Plata, Mineral, Hermosa, and the upper Animas.  All of which can be easily accessed.

 

Insects and Natural Food Sources

San Juan River, New Mexico – Blue Winged Olives, Midges, annelids, aquatic worms, scuds, eggs, Leeches, Caddis, PMDs, large ants.

Animas – Caddis, PMDs, Sculpins, Fingerling Rainbow Trout, Crayfish, Mice, Hoppers, Stonefly Nymphs.

Upper San Juan - Stoneflies, Caddis, PMDs, Sculpins.

Rio Grande – Stoneflies, Caddis, PMDs, Green Drakes, Brown Drakes, Mice.

Piedra River & Williams Creek – Stonefly nymphs and dries, Caddis, PMDs, Green Drakes, Cicadas.

Los Pinos River – (Below Dam) - Midges, PMDs, Caddis, Baitfish & Leeches, Mice.

Dolores River Above Reservoir, Los Pinos Above Reservoir –  Stoneflies, Ants, Beetles, Hoppers, Caddis, Baitfish.

Dolores River (Below Dam) – HOPPERS!  PMDs, Caddis, Midges, BWO’s,  and watch out for Rattlesnakes!

High Country Lakes and Streams –  Hoppers, Ants, Beatles, Moths, Mice, bugs…things that look like bugs…High country trout are not too selective so make sure to have lots of attractor dry flies.  Damsel flies, Chronomids, and Callebaetis in lakes.

 

Recommended Fly Patterns

San Juan River:

Midges: Size 20-30 - Flash Midge Pupa, Red Big Mac, WD-40, Zebra Midges

Baetis: Size 20-14 - Juju Baetis, Thread Body Baetis, Barr's Baetis Vis-A-Dun, BWO CDC Emerger, RS2

Annelids:  Red Sparkle Worm, Red annelids, Chamos Leech, SJ Worm in Red, Orange, Pink, and Tan

Ant Patterns: Make sure to have a few size 14 black ant patterns in case of rain...such as a Black Stimulator, Sponge Spider, and Amy’s Ant.

Scuds: Size 14-18 - Olive and Tan

Leeches: Size 8-14 - Olive, Brown and Black Simi- Seal Leeches, Bunny Leeches, and Buggers

 

Animas, Piedra, Upper San Juan, and SW CO rivers:

Stonefly Nymphs: Size 2-14 -  20 Incher Stone, Prince Nymph, Pats Rubberlegs, Little Black Sloan.

Stonefly Dries: Size 8-14 - Dry Muddler, Sloan's Paralyzer, Yeager's 409, Gold and Olive Chubby Chernobyls

Caddis Nymphs: Size 12-18 -  Caddisstrophic Pupa, , Hares Ear, Cased Caddis, Sparkle pupa and Sparkle emerger

Caddis Dries: Size 12-18 - Duranglers Peacock Caddis, E-Z Caddis, Clownshoe Caddis, Small Stimulators

PMDs: Size 14-18 - Juju PMD, CDC Comparadun PMD, PMD Vis-a-Dun

Streamers: Mr. Hankey Mouse, Josh's Ziwi, Circus Peanut, Conehead Wool Sculpin, The One Sculpin

 

Rio Grande:

Stonefly Nymphs: Size 2-14 -  20 Incher Stone, Pats Rubberlegs.

Stonefly Dries: Size 8-14 - Dry Muddler, Sloan's Paralyzer, Yeager's 409, Gold Chubby Chernobyl, Royal Stimulator

Caddis Nymphs: Size 12-18 -  Caddisstrophic Pupa, Cased Caddis, Sparkle pupa and Sparkle emerger

Caddis Dries: Size 12-18 - Duranglers Peacock Caddis, E-Z Caddis, Black Mom's Day Caddis, Clownshoe Caddis

Drakes: Size 10-14 - Film Critic, Brown Rib Green Drake, Green Drake Parawulff

Mice: Mr. Hankey Mouse

 

Lower Dolores:

Caddis Nymphs: Size 12-18 -  Caddisstrophic Pupa, Cased Caddis, Sparkle pupa and Sparkle emerger

Caddis Dries: Size 12-18 - Duranglers Peacock Caddis, E-Z Caddis, Clownshoe Caddis

PMDs: Size 14-18 - Juju PMD, CDC Comparadun PMD, PMD Vis-a-Dun, Brown Nymph

Hoppers: Size 8-12 - Tan Sweetgrass Hopper, Green Morrish Hopper, Tantrum Hopper, Dry Muddler, Yeager's 409, Grillo's Pool Toy

 

High Country:

Any attractor patterns will work.  Have some Humpies, Royal Wulffs, Stimulators, Elk Hair Caddis, Turks Tarantula, or Parachute Adams on hand in sizes 10-16.  If you must go under, a size 10 olive bugger, Copper Johns, Pheasant Tails, and other bead head nymphs always work.  These fish are not too selective.  For lakes fish Simi-Seal Leaches, Callebaetis nymphs and dries, Adult Damselflies, Foam Damselflies, Ultra Damsel Nymphs, and dragonfly nymphs as well as ant's and beetles.

 

For more information on any of these rivers, or to book a trip with this renowed Colorado guide service, give them a call at 888-FISH-DGO or go to their website duranglers.com.

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