Friday, November 12, 2010

Rio de los Animas Perdidas

I simply call it the Animas.  You won't find this name on many of the must fish rivers, but that's just fine with me.  It's a wild river with wild fish.  Some are big, but most are just average.   You just have to know how to fish it.  
Starting high in the San Juan Mountains, it makes it's way through the town of Durango, CO.  This is where I choose to fish, on many stretches through town.  Usually, I have many of these stretches to my self as many people don't think fishing in town is cool or just isn't productive.  Of those times that other people are on the river, many of them just don't know how to fish it.  I often see many people show up and fish for 30 minutes only to leave after a fruitless effort.  While I don't consider this a loaded fishery, as some of the tailwaters are,  I can often times find the fish.  It has taken me a few years to figure things out, but I know where they are.  After a 2 year void in fishing the Animas, I was back on it yesterday.  It was good to me, as the fish are still in some of the same areas.  As a freestone river, there are many stretches that have changed.  Some for good, some for the worst.  My most productive winter run has been filled in by rock to help divert water from the highway bridge pillars.  It was so awesome a hole, I once went through with 20 drifts and hooked 14 fish after changing to an egg and red larva.  I ran through with a different rig about 15 times before changing without a twitch.  After the 20 drifts, I switched back to the privious rig.  Nothing.  Back to the egg and larva and first cast, fish.  I finally stopped after proving my theory that these fish loved the egg.  Now this hole is covered by thousands of pounds of rock. 
As you can see below, these fish are still eating eggs and larva.  I chose the green larva since there are so many caddis larva in the water and it proved to be a good choice.  Although I started with the nymphs, it was the CDC midge that made the day.  Later in the afternoon, many of the smaller fish were gorging on emerging midge pupa and some adults.  I had a ball.  While knowing there were bigger fish to be had, I chose to stay on top and enjoy rising fish.  Part of the fun was being able to spot all of these fish off of a pedestrian bridge.  Looking down, there were a bunch of fish rising.  Once settling on to the water, I had no idea where they were and was fishing "blind".   Eventually, they would rise to reveal themselves and I would drift a CDC midge over where I last saw them.  It was a good day.       

 Looking North on the river.
 There were a few eggs in the river.
 I managed to fool a nice brown on this pattern.  
 Pretty good match except for that Japanese steel.  
I fooled this one on a chartreuse larva. I assume they took this pattern as a caddis larva.  Maybe they thought it was a green midge?

I saw this one rise as I was walking.  I came back o him after I switched to a dry fly.
 Eating midge emergers.
Looking north from the foot bridge.


  1. Juan, totally excellent! I hope you were able to give Durango a big wave for me! Gosh, I miss my home town! Many days were spent on that river in the 20+ years I lived there!

    Your first picture. Where is that in town? I have been gone for over 7 years now and I am not familiar with that wall in the upper left corner. Down by Wally World? Mind sharing?

    Thanks for the rocking post! It certainly brings a lot of memories back. Thanks for loving the River of Lost Souls as much as I do! Did you get behind the high school down to the Main Street bridge north of Camino del Rio? That was a good stretch to me!


  2. Scott,

    That picture was taken behind the Four Corners Whitewater Shop (I think thats what it is called). Between Santa Rita Park and the Mall. There is now a pedestrian bridge to cross the river and condos overlooking the river. Sick, I know, but people don't really fish the river much it seems. I have some other pictures, but it was taking too long to upload while sitting in the McDonalds using their WiFi. I went to college here but never fished it much. Dang I was stupid!