Pagosa Springs Fishing – Rivers and Lakes
There are few areas that can boast the quantity and quality of fishing waters to equal those in Pagosa Country. Streams, rivers, beaver ponds and lakes are all easily accessible and offer excellent fishing opportunities. Listed below are a few of the favorite fishing spots, and except as indicated, all require possession of a Colorado fishing license. State regulations prohibit use of live minnows as bait for fishing except in Navajo Lake. Licenses, bait and fishing equipment are available at sporting goods stores and other places of business throughout the area. Good Luck!
Pagosa’s Favorite Fishing Rivers and Lakes:
ECHO LAKE – Trout are best caught with lures, flies or natural bait such as worms; bass, with top surface lures, crank baits; jigs with pork frogs or rubber worms. Perch are best taken with live bait; sunfish with worms and sometimes flies; and catfish, with cut bait (suckers or commercial stink baits). Access is easy, four miles from Pagosa Springs on U.S. Highway 84.
OPAL LAKE – Good rainbow trout fishing. The beaver ponds and stream below the lake also offer excellent fishing. To reach Opal Lake, go south out of Pagosa Springs on Highway 84 approximately eight miles to Blanco Basin Road. Follow east to Castle Creek Road. Turn right across the Blanco River and follow the road two miles to a parking area identified by a sign denoting the trailhead. The lake is a short two-mile hike from the trailhead.
WEST FORK OF THE SAN JUAN RIVER – Good rainbow trout fishing. Cutthroat trout fishing available from trail head at end of West Fork Road upstream. Easy access – take U.S. Highway 160 east out of Pagosa Springs approximately 17 miles to the West Fork Road; turn left. Drive on forest road for about three miles to the trailhead. Hike upstream from trailhead at end of the road for better fishing.
EAST FORK OF THE SAN JUAN RIVER – Excellent rainbow and brown trout fishing on lower reaches; brook and cutthroat trout at higher elevations. The East Fork is easily accessible, about 10 miles northeast of Pagosa Springs on U.S. Highway 160 to the East Fork Road; turn right.
FOURMILE LAKES – Cutthroat trout fishing in both lower and higher lakes. Take Fourmile Road north from downtown until the road ends. Hike six to seven miles on the trail visible from road’s end to lower lake. Second lake is another half-mile walk. Fourmile Falls can be seen about three miles in–very scenic. The altitude increases rapidly after the falls, be prepared for a strenuous hike to a beautiful hike.
FOURMILE CREEK – Access is the same as for Fourmile Lakes. The creek begins near the trailhead. Good brook and cutthroat trout fishing after high water has dropped (about mid-June).
TURKEY CREEK LAKE – Good brook trout fishing. To get there, head east on U.S. Highway 160 approximately seven miles, turn left on Jackson Mountain Road and drive five miles to parking lot. Turkey Creek Lake is located nine miles from this point and can be accessed by following a trail from the parking lot.
TURKEY CREEK – Access is same as Turkey Creek Lake. Turkey Creek is about three miles in on the trail to Turkey Creek Lake. Good brook, cutthroat and rainbow trout fishing.
SAN JUAN RIVER – Excellent fishing for rainbow and brown trout. This is for the fisherman who doesn’t want to travel far. The San Juan River runs right through downtown Pagosa Springs.
PIEDRA RIVER – Good trout stream (browns, rainbows, cutthroats and some brook trout). The stretch of the Piedra River from lower Piedra Campground upstream to Sand Creek can only be fished with artificial flies and lures with a two trout, 16 inches or larger, bag limit. The easiest access to the Piedra River is U.S. Highway 160, west of Pagosa Springs about 22 miles where the river crosses under the highway. Turn right just before the bridge.
WILLIAMS CREEK RESERVOIR – Excellent fishing for rainbow and brook trout, also kokanee salmon. Salmon are best taken with artificial lures and worms. In the vicinity of Williams Creek Reservoir are four U.S. Forest Service campgrounds. Mountain views are tremendous. To get there, follow Piedra Road north about 24 miles.
BUCKLES AND HARRIS LAKES – Good rainbow trout fishing. To reach the lakes, take U.S. Highway 84 south about 20 miles to Buckles Lake Road; turn left. Follow this road, which leads to a parking area and trailhead, then hike in a half mile to Buckles Lake, another mile to Harris Lake.
NAVAJO RESERVOIR – Large catfish, trout, bass, northern pike, crappie and perch can be caught here. About one-third of Navajo Reservoir is located in Colorado, the remaining two thirds, in New Mexico. Once over the Colorado line, fishermen are required to purchase a New Mexico fishing license. Live minnows may be used as fish bait in both the Colorado and New Mexico portions of Navajo lake. The lake can be accessed from Pagosa Springs by heading west on U.S. Highway 160 about 17 miles, then turn south on Colorado State Highway 151 and go about 35 miles.
SAN JUAN RIVER BELOW NAVAJO DAM – (NOTE: New Mexico fishing licenses are required.) These are quality fishing waters and are highly regulated. The first mile is catch and release only. On the next three miles, you can keep one trout over 20 inches, but you can no longer fish the quality waters for that day. In the Cottonwood Campground, you may use bait. Artificial flies and lures with barbless hooks are required on the quality stretch. Check printed regulations and posted signs, which remind fishermen what kinds of tackle they may use, or check with fishing shops either here in Pagosa or near the river.
LAKE CAPOTE – Scheduled to be open this season after being closed for several years for new dam construction, this lake is stocked with rainbow and cutthroat trout by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and requires special fishing licenses available at the lake. Drive west of Pagosa Springs 17 miles, the lake just south of the Hwy 160 – 151 junction.