North of Silverton the Animas is a small stream which gathers volume from several streams as it approaches Hermosa. The mileage above Hermosa can only be accessed via train since the river travels through a steep canyon. Most anglers who want to fish the river above Hermosa will catch a morning train ride from Durango or Rockwood (a small town north of Hermosa along Route 550) and ride back during the afternoon. If you start from Durango the ride will cut into fishing time since it is a long ride into the Animus River Gorge. Take a car to Rockwood then catch the train to shorten your travel time. This is a different and wonderful experience that provides some diverse opportunities. Besides fishing the main river there are many feeder streams that are also quality fisheries. Check the weather and trains schedule before making the venture.
After passing through the special regulations area, the Animas flows for approximately 50 more miles across the New Mexico state line before entering the San Juan River near Farmington. The water inside Colorado and downstream from the regulations area flows through reservation land and all anglers must have a reservation fishing permit to fish this section.
The best time to fish the Animas is during periods of lower water flows. Snowmelt usually brings high water starting in mid May and running through early July. Snow pack, temperatures and rain can effect high water periods. If the water is high, fish close to the banks as the trout will migrate closer to the banks to seek refuge. Look for good seams created by bends in the river or large boulders.
The hatches and dry fly fishing on the Animas can be very good. The intense caddis hatch, after the high water recedes during the summer, is an experience that matches that of the Arkansass. Blinding numbers of caddis can be found along the river at this time. Blue-wing olives (spring and fall) and pale morning duns (summer) make up the majority of mayflies on the river. Midges are best during the lower water periods of late summer, fall, winter and early spring. Terrestrials work well during late summer and early fall while large golden stones can be found along the river during the later part of June through mid August.
The Animas is a beautiful Colorado river worth every anglers attention. Its quality trout and large size makes it a wonderful and mysterious river to fish. Next time youre in southwest Colorado, planning a trip or looking for a single day adventure take a look at the Animas River. The closest commercial airports are in Cortez, Colorado and Farmington, New Mexico.
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