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Animas - FF Heaven

The Durango Herald - News - Durango, CO

March 5, 2004


Fly Fishing Durango - by L. David Grooms


Animas is fly fishing heaven


Animas is fly fishing heaven. Durango, Colorado.

One of the many trophy brown trout that live in the Animas is displayed before being released.

Editor's note: L. David Grooms is a nationally-renown fly fishing expert from Durango who has represented Ultra-Lite manufacturers on promotional tours. In addition, he previously served as a fly fishing columnist for two daily newspapers in Colorado Springs. He currently is a local fly fishing intructor and senior partner of Today is the introduction of his weekly column.

Many Durango-ans no doubt realize they are a privileged few - especially those that have trout on the brain. A river runs through it, and right through town!

Although some Animas River fly fishers know it is fishy, they frequently respond in disbelief when knowledgeable locals tell them how fantastic it really is.

The Animas is no mediocre Rocky Mountain river. The former state record Brown Trout was taken downtown. Recent Department of Wildlife electro-shocking in the Animas suggests that the next record Brown may also live somewhere in Durango.

In this inaugural column, I think it is very fitting that I reflect on the Animas in its true perspective - one of the most incredible wild freestone trout fisheries in North America!

Some fly fishers will probably question me for describing the Animas as one of America's best trout waters, but having recently toured most of the Rocky Mountains' premier fly fishing destinations, the Animas is my absolute river of choice for quality trout.

I discovered on my tour that the grass wasn't greener, the sky wasn't bluer and most famed rivers were not as productive as our Animas. It has more 18- to 30-inch trophy trout than any river I have ever fished. I have seen 30-inch Browns attack 24-inch Rainbows. Plus the Animas has enough 10- to 20-inch trout to keep any fly fisher happy.

However, three things may prevent folks from getting big fish hook-ups on our home water. First, the fish get smart - quick. Second, they are often eating things that fly fishers don't normally expect. Third, many fly fishers cast to and catch smaller trout, which instantly puts down the notion of bigger fish in the area.

With reasonable water clarity and polarized glasses, I routinely see elusive trophy trout when I scout or fish. Being able to find 14- to 20-inch trout in the Animas is guaranteed, if you know where they hold. Yes, we fly fishers certainly are fortunate to live in Durango.

In the next column, I will report on where trout hang out at this time of year. Subsequent articles will reveal what they eat and how to catch those trophy trout we have right here in town.

L. David Grooms is senior partner of His fly fishing column appears each Friday in the Outdoors section of The Durango Herald.



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