At family dinners or just out and about you can hear all those stories about how someone went out on a deep ocean fishing expedition. They brag about the huge marlin or tuna they have stuffed and hanging on their wall.

But why should you go all the way out to the ocean and deal with dangerous rough waters, sharks, and who knows what else hiding in those dark waves. You can get an equally, if not more, impressive story fishing in the mountains of Colorado. Talk about how you braved a winter snowstorm to hike out and go ice fishing or how you backpacked out to a serene mountain lake and caught your dinner.

If you are more of a casual fisher and not all that interested in the big fish story you can do that too. The local river runs right through town and works great for standard or fly fishing. Drive your way to a local reservoir or lake  to set up and spend a relaxing day by the water fishing for sport or dinner. Or extend your stay lakeside and camp for a while to get a break from things.

No matter if you want stories or sport, Durango fishing spots have what you need.

Places to Go Fishing

Animas River

A favorite among fly fishers in the area, the Animas River is a fantastic area to find the freshest of fish. The Animas provides a gold medal fishing location full of various trout, primarily brown and rainbow, that are practically jumping on the lines.

There's a good variety of spots to set up alongside the river and it runs right through town making it conveniently easy to access. You can drive out a ways if you want to get a nice calming spot without risking rafters or other interference. Or just set up right in town and enjoy an easy relaxing day by the river.

Vallecito Reservoir

Vallecito Lake, or Vallecito Reservoir as it is also known, is a body of water pretty much perfect for fishing any time of years. The reservoir is stocked with trout, walleye, and pike just waiting to be fished up by the aspiring fisher. 

During the summer, spring, and fall you can get out for a day or even longer with the nearby campground providing the perfect spot to spend the night. The winter months can be even more fun with the lake being available for ice fishing once it's frozen over. There's even a yearly ice fishing contest to look forward to for some competition.

Lemon Reservoir

Stocked regularly with brown trout, rainbow trout, and kokanee salmon Lemon Reservoir is always ready for a fishing trip. 

The reservoir is only a few miles Northeast of Durango and is an easy day trip to get out and fish. While smaller than Vallecito Reservoir, Lemon is just as beautiful and its smaller size means it is a bit more secluded for those who like a more relaxing experience. The reservoir is filled by mountain streams which can also be great spots to try for fish as well.

Ice fishing is available during the winter months once the reservoir has safely frozen over.

Haviland Lake

Nearly hidden by the pines and the mountainous terrain of Colorado lies Haviland Lake, a picturesque small lake. The lake sits in the mountains not far from Purgatory Ski Resort and it's hard to picture a more beautiful sight. With the native trees and water plants surrounding a dock leading out onto the water while a path runs around the shore.

Fishing gear can be set up pretty much anywhere alongside the shores for a relaxing day and if you prefer ice fishing Haviland freezes over perfectly in the winter months. Though if there is heavy snow you might have to trek out there without a vehicle.

Andrews Lake

The wilderness can hide fantastical secrets in between the trees and mountains for those who are savvy enough to find them. In the Weminuche protected wilderness hides a watering hole that is perfect for fishing.

The small yet beautiful Andrews Lake rests on the edges of the wilderness and is full of various kinds of trout. There are two designated fishing piers letting you reach the deeper waters and plenty of shore fishing spots available. The hiking trail running alongside the lake can guide you to some of the best spots or you can just try them all out for yourself.

Mancos State Park

A little over an hour from Durango lies another reservoir originally intended for irrigation that has since turned into a wonderful fishing hole as well. Mancos State Park, also known as Jackson Lake or Jackson Reservoir, is a beautiful lake with a campground attached. 

The lake is stocked fairly regularly by Colorado Parks and Wildlife with Rainbow Trout and Perch to keep the fish population up and ripe for catching.

The beautiful ponderosa pine forest by the shores is the perfect place to camp for the night if you feel like extending your fishing trip for a while longer.

Things to Know About Fishing in Durango

  • Fishing in Colorado requires a legal permit. You can pick one up at most gas stations without too much hassle.

  • Rentals for both fishing gear and boats are available at locations in town and around the Durango area.

  • Sometimes you get a run of bad luck and don't catch anything. Don't give up. Try switching spots or taking a break and giving the fish a chance to move around or just try again another day.

  • If you want to try fishing for the first time or pick up a new form like fly fishing there are guides and lessons available for booking.