The Conejos River Valley is a place an angler could spend an entire season exploring.  There is ample public access across the lower, middle, tailwater and upper section including access to the Elk, South, Lake, and Adams Fork if you’re willing to hike.  The upper section is a pure freestone as nothing dams it up from it’s headwaters.  Anything above Platoro reservoir is considered the upper section which includes the Adams fork, north fork and El Rito Azul river that create and add to the Conejos river.  It is a breathtaking place to fish, hike and explore.  There is some camping by the lakes, and you can hike and backpack around many areas too.  Refer to OnX Maps for the trailheads in the area.  Medium sized rainbow and brown trout are found in the lower sections and cutthroat and brook trout are found above in the three forks trailhead hikes.

Standard dry flies and dropper nymphs will produce fish on this section of the river and it is likely the most forgiving and easiest of water to fish on the Conejos.  With that said, it can still be challenging as the water can be swift and getting a drag free drift really helps in convincing the fish to eat.  For the larger sections of water, a longer leader helps get a solid drift.  For the smaller sections, go small on rod and leader length to get around the willows that line this rivers edge.  Many flies can be lost without care.  Wildlife is dense in this area.  Make plenty of noise walking through the willows so you don’t wake or sneak up on a bear or moose.  There’s not much you can do if you come across one as far as escape, since the river is tough to walk in and along, so be extra cautious and smart and you should be fine.  I recommend bear spray in this area, but a smart head and good preventative actions like making noise will ward off any issues in most cases.

The river, as mentioned before, is swift and a natural freestone yielding downward in traditional runs, riffles and pools.  The riffles seem to hold as many fish as the rest of the water, so be sure to cover every section, and don’t be afraid to take your time, sit down, take rests and just enjoy this great water.  You likely won’t put up a ton of numbers, but each fish is quality and a memory to catch.