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The Backcountry

Our shop offers a unique experience for anglers seeking backcountry solitude and Rocky Mountain beauty. If you are not afraid of putting on a few hiking miles to reach pristine headwater’s, we offer some fantastic options to match your desires. The Weminuche is Colorado’s largest wilderness, just under 500,000 square acres in size, and is easily accessed from Durango.

We have numerous maps, access points and knowledge on this area, so please contact the shop for further information.

FLORIDA RIVER

The upper Florida River above Lemon Reservoir can offer quick access from the trailhead and miles of pocket water, deep canyons and amazing dry fly fishing. The best fishing season is from June until the end of September although earlier and later in the season can be surprisingly productive.

Early season offers good streamer action while the water level high allowing fish to run up from the lake. Anglers can expect to catch Rainbow and Brown trout closer to the reservoir with Cutthroat and Brook higher up. Expect size to range from 5”-6” to maybe 15” anything over would be considered a trophy for the upper Florida.

During the summer months Caddis, various Mayfly and Stonefly hatches are thick and the dry fly fishing is consistent. Trips further upriver offer angler opportunities to target native cutthroat trout as they become common.

Travel is not easy as the trail is high above the river and anglers must traverse the waterway to access the river. The difficult hike rewards individuals with less angling pressure on the river and high numbers of wild and spirited trout. The Colorado Grand slam is achievable on the upper Florida River if you can land all 4 species; rainbow, brown, cutthroat and brook.

VALLECITO CREEK

Vallecito Creek Trailhead is a popular access point into the wilderness and offers great fishing along the tributary flowing into Vallecito Reservoir. This is a major drainage originating from the Continental Divide deep in the wilderness. The creek is more of a river as water levels can be quite high during runoff leading to more manageable water mid-summer into late fall.

Access along the creek can range from easy to moderately difficult access. A narrow canyon divides the lower section around the campground from the upper reaches. Hiking in along the trail is advised to reach the water above the canyon. Hiking can be strenuous in the first 2 miles with elevation gains and losses.

Don’t forget this is a one-way in/one-way out scenario and keep enough time and energy for the return trip unless you plan to stay overnight. Rainbows, Brook and Cutthroat Trout are most common with an occasional Brown in the lower reaches. Comparable size range for trout caught in the upper Florida River. This is a great dry flies and dry dropper river with consistent action during peak summer months.

UPPER LOS PINOS RIVER

For access into the Weminuche Wilderness, the upper Los Pinos River is our favorite! Access is the most difficult though as anglers must hike 3 miles boarding a private ranch first to reach the wilderness boundary.

Luckily for anglers, or anyone else making the trek, the hiking from the trailhead and along the river is easy to moderate as there is very little elevation change. Please keep in mind that the distance traveled in must also be traveled out. Trust us, it's well worth it!

The upper Los Pinos is a beautiful section of the river and offers some fantastic angling. The opportunity at the Colorado Grand Slam is possible at any moment. Brown and Rainbows are most prevalent while the Cutthroat and Brook Trout are fewer in number. Unlike the Florida River and Vallecito Creek, anglers have an excellent chance at landing fish over 20”.

This river has all the characteristics anglers desire from slow, meandering meadow sections to fast riffles, amazing pocket water, and long deep plunge pools. The season starts in early spring and can continue into November. The conditions remain very dependent on the snowpack and runoff, so it’s recommended to call ahead of your trip and receive the latest intel.

NATIONAL FOREST ACCESS

The Durango area offers abundant access into the San Juan National Forest. There are more creeks, streams, and tributaries located within this national forest that it would take a lifetime to fish.

The high-country creeks are home to many native and wild populations of fish including Cutthroat, Brook and Rainbow trout. Certain reaches can also be home to Brown trout and if you’re lucky the Colorado Grand Slam is waiting.

We offer both half and full day guide trips that come with a lot more than just the fishing. These creeks start high up in the majestic San Juan Mountains and the scenery is just as amazing as the fishing. Allow yourself some extra time to take pictures, enjoy the sounds and smell of the mountains, and keep your eye’s peeled for wildlife.

While the altitude is significant for most with elevations from 8,000 ft – 11,000, we do have options that can accommodate most fitness levels. Most of the creeks we frequent are located just off the highway or forest service road and guests can be fishing within a few minutes. For those who want to get further and deeper into solitude, we are also willing to put some hiking distance from the car to find isolation.

With a short growing season during the prime summer months, these trout feed vigorously! A well presented dry fly is all that’s needed to catch fish all day long. With so many miles of water in every direction, most of the fish have never been caught! This is a fantastic location to introduce new anglers to this great sport.