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San Juan River – West Fork Fishing Information
Main Section - near Pagosa Springs, CO
The West Fork of the San Juan is similar in fishing to the East Fork of the Juan, but less accessible making the fishing less pressured and at times, easier. Scenic stretches of rivers and beautiful mountains and landscape surround this pristine river and while the lower stretches get fished on occassion, there is likely stretches of this river section that only get fished by the most adventurous every 3-5 years or so. The further up you go, the more adventurous the journey. Don’t overlook any part of the river as you hike up, fishing everything you’d expect to hold a trout. Often, you’ll find trout willing to eat a variety of standard dries and nymphs if you work the water with a method and with a little stealth.
Trout aren’t overly difficult to catch up here, but if you give them extra respect beyond what you would for a typical, un-pressured freestone, you can be rewarded with larger sized trout and more numbers for the day. Fly selection isn’t overly difficult here most times, but if you find yourself not able to discover the trout, be sure to use a bug seine or look through the forage in the sides of the river and you’ll quickly discover the loads of insects in the river and can hopefully find some bugs of the right size and color to catch some fish and make it a memorable day of fishing, not just hiking.
If you make it up towards the headwaters, explore cimarron creek as well. It fishes similar and if you’ve made it that far, might as well fish as much as you can!
Fish: Some Small-Sized Fish
Best Techniques: Dries & Nymphs
Best Seasons: Spring - Fall
River Type: Medium Freestone
Fish Types: Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout
Dog Friendly: Yes
Located in the San Juan/Dolores River Basin near Pagosa Springs, CO
Fishable Seasons & Current Weather
The best seasons to fish this river are Spring - Fall. See the current weather reports for the next 5-6 days listed below for the nearest city.
wind: 16mph SSW
H 20 • L 13
Weather from OpenWeatherMap
Knowing what flies to use is only have the battle. You have to know when the insects are active on the water and when it's likely the trout are feeding on them. Refer to our hatch charts below to understand when the insect categories and some of the possible hatches on the river.
Midges hatch year round, but their importance is from September through winter into April. During the warmer months, the trout often focus on larger insects as they are more active on the water like mayflies, caddis and stoneflies.
Aside from Blue wing olives, mayflies are active most commonly from May to August in Colorado. There are many different mayfly hatches found on most rivers and the most common are listed below.
Blue Wing Olive: September throut winter to April
Pale Morning Dun: June to Mid September
Colors: White, Yellow
Sizes: #14 - #20
Green Drakes: June to August
Sizes: #8 - #14
Caddis hatch starting early in May and continue to the end of October.
Colors: Olive, Green, Yellow, Tan, Orange, Brown and Black.
Sizes: #10 - #20
We have some great stonefly hatches in Colorado and while not all rivers carry all species of salmonflies, you can often fish stonefly adult patterns with confidence from May to September. Start off in bigger sizes and get smaller till September hits (size 8 - 16)
Little Black Stone: January to May during warm sunny days.
Colors: Black, Grey
Sizes: #16 - #20
Golden Stone: June to August
Colors: Yellow, Tan
Sizes: #8 - #14
Yellow Sally Stonefly: Mid June to August
Colors: Yellow, Tan
Sizes: #12 - #18
Terrestrials don't hatch since they are out of the water, but they can have importance starting in Mid April and ending in September.
These are the the top flies we sell for this river. Use the hatch chart above to know what flies you will want to have in your fly box during your adventure on the river and then select the flies here 30 days before your trip to get them at a great price. All of our flies are hand tied to each order to ensure quality and to keep our prices low for you.
Click on a fly below to select a size and color for purchase.
If you need an easier solution than selecting each fly and size, try out our top fly assortments for this river that will put all the flies you need in a single order for this river. We've already selected the flies we use in our fly box for this river including the sizes and colors and put them in these assortments so you can fish with the confidence that you have the right flies in your box.
Click on any of the pictures to see what flies, colors and sizes we recommend in each assortment.
Use these epic resources to get ready for your adventure. Whether you're planning your trip, learning your insects, improving your fishing with expert tips or getting detailed resources from the USGS streamflows or DoW, we got you covered to help you find the river and find the success you want.