Many avid and casual fishers have that fishing story, you know the one, with them going out to sea and catching a whopper of a tuna or shark or some other impressive fish. Durango offers you the chance to one-up their stories with one of your own without needing to head toward the coast. How many people can say they have braved the cold and rugged mountains to go ice fishing in the depths of the mountain lakes? Catching a Northern Pike, a Rainbow Trout, or some fresh Kokanee Salmon to bring home for supper and brag about to your friends.
If fishing stories aren't your thing and you want to get out for the day or are trying to supplement your diet with some fresh fish, Durango is perfect for that as well. Just bundle yourself up in warm, water-resistant gear, grab a pole, and step out across the ice. After being cooped up for the winter under all that ice the fish are ready and waiting to be scooped up.
If you don't have your fishing gear high, quality rentals are available at several venues in town. The venues can also give advice on some good spots if asked.
Vallecito Reservoir is a popular destination for trout, walleye, and pike while being only about 18 miles from downtown Durango.
Vallecito Reservoir, also known as Vallecito Lake, is an excellent destination for fishing during the summer and an even better one in the winter months if you're so inclined. The ice covers the surface of the lake, giving the chance to fish at depths further offshore without a boat. Just walk on out and pop in a line to catch some fish in the frozen waters.
If competition is your thing, there is an annual ice fishing competition every year in February.
Just a few miles from both downtown Durango and Vallecito Reservoir is Lemon Reservoir, a smaller but just as beautiful lake full of fishing opportunities. During the regular fishing season the lake is stocked with brown trout, rainbow trout, and kokanee salmon to fill all your fishing needs.
Plenty of the fish survive through to the winter months, so once the ice is sturdy enough and you have your equipment readied head on out there for some freshly chilled fish.
The mountain reservoir offers the chance to sit around with some buddies or just some relaxing solitude with you and the fish out there on the ice.
Another popular ice fishing location in the Durango area is Haviland Lake, a picturesque mountain lake hidden between the peaks and trees. The lake's relatively small size means that it freezes over before too long and becomes available for ice fishing. Stocked with a variety of trout species by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the lake offers plenty of game available for catching.
The roads inwards towards the lake can be closed to vehicles in the winter season due to snow. But they're still open to snowshoes and cross-country skis, so if you can handle a bit of a hike the fishing is worth it.
Andrew's Lake, hidden in the depths of the woods and mountains of the San Juan National Forest, is an ideal spot in between Durango and Silverton for ice fishing.
The lake is a bit of a drive from town but it's worth it to experience the peaceful ambiance and get some fishing done. The nearby parking lot gives easy access to the water without needing to lug your gear for miles.
From there it's just a short walk onto the ice and into the world of ice fishing. You can drill a hole, plop down a chair, and get comfortable.
If you're up for a bit of a drive, there are more ice fishing opportunities available and waiting to be found.
Mancos State Park, also known as Jackson Lake or Jackson Reservoir, is a little under an hour's drive from Durango. The lake features access to the water for fishing, ice or otherwise, with the proper license and is stocked with rainbow trout and perch.
Once you arrive, it's not too hard to drill a hole in the ice, set up a chair, and drop in a line.
The nearby campground lets you extend your stay for some extra fishing time.
You can probably guess from the name but ice fishing is a winter activity so be sure to dress warm and bundle up.
Come prepared with a packed lunch and plenty to drink. Fishing often needs you to wait out the fish so having supplies to snack on can help tide you over while you wait.
Bring sunscreen. The sunlight reflects off the ice and can give you a nasty sunburn even in the dead of winter.
Watch your step out on the ice. It is very unpleasant to fall in. Bring a stick to test the ice and some dry clothes to change into.