Explore the San Juan Mountains
Surrounded by over 3 million acres of national forest and wilderness areas, you’ll find yourself in the center of nature’s playground in Pagosa Springs. With the San Juan Mountains and a variety of outdoor activities at your doorstep, along with hot springs, charming shops, historic sites, and an assortment of artisans, you'll find plenty to do in Pagosa.
A multitude of rivers, lakes and reservoirs offer anglers endless hours of quality fishing in and around Pagosa Springs. From warm, lower-elevation waters stocked with catfish, bass, perch and pan fish, to higher cool and cold-water lakes, creeks and ponds teaming with pike, kokanee salmon and a variety of trout, the fishing in few other destinations equals that of Pagosa Country.
Adding to our thriving natural fish population, the Pagosa Quality Fishing Project stocks the San Juan River with trout during the summer. Each summer, more and more anglers catch fish weighing up to 10 pounds in the heart of downtown Pagosa.
East Fork of the San Juan - Fishing
The lower stretch of the East Fork offers good fishing for rainbow and brown trout, while its wild upper reaches are more akin to brook trout and native Colorado River Cutthroats. To get there, travel approximately 10 miles northeast of Pagosa Springs on U.S. 160.
Echo Canyon Reservoir - Fishing
Echo Canyon Reservoir (State Wildlife Area) is a cool-water fishery just west of U.S. 84, approximately four miles south of U.S. 160. It contains stocked rainbows, largemouth bass, yellow perch, green sunfish and channel catfish. Trout are best caught with lures, flies or natural bait, while bass are taken with top-surface lures, crank-baits, pork frogs or rubber worms. Perch are most easily taken with live bait, sunfish will take worms or an occasional fly, while catfish seem to prefer cut baits (suckers or commercial stink baits). Bank fishing is adequate, until aquatic vegetation thickens, at which time a canoe, float-tube or a small boat and trolling motor are most useful.
Lake Capote Recreation Area - Fishing
Lake Capote Recreation Area is owned and operated by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. Properly permitted anglers can catch stocked rainbow trout, largemouth bass and channel catfish in the shadow of Chimney Rock, and no state fishing license is required. The 45-acre lake is open to daytime bank fishers, non-motorized boaters and belly-boaters; using bait, spinning tackle or flies. Daily permits, bait, rental boats and supplies are available at an on-site concession. Permits are $8 for adults, $4 for children, and derby fishing is available for a chance to win valuable cash prizes.
Navajo Reservoir - Fishing
Large catfish, trout, bass, pike, crappie, perch and kokanee salmon inhabit this 15,000 surface-acre lake. About a third of the reservoir is located in Colorado, while two-thirds lie in New Mexico. As licensed Colorado anglers cross the New Mexico line, they must also possess a valid New Mexico fishing license. Live minnows may be used as bait in both Colorado and New Mexico waters. To access the park and reservoir from Pagosa Springs, travel approximately 17 miles west on U.S. 160, then turn south on Colo. 151. Drive another 18 miles to Arboles, then turn left onto CR 982 and proceed another two miles to the park.
Piedra River - Fishing
Easily accessible from Piedra Road (County Road 600). Hike along the Piedra River Trail to access great river fishing.
San Juan River - Downtown/Fishing
At times, fishing in the San Juan River through the heart of Pagosa Springs is as good as it gets.
West Fork of the San Juan - Fishing
Aside from good rainbow and cutthroat trout fishing, the West Fork offers quality camping in two nearby campgrounds. A left turn off of U.S. 160, 17 miles east of Pagosa Springs, affords easy access to water through public and private lands. The best fishing is in the forest beyond the trailhead at the end of the road.
Williams Creek Reservoir - Fishing
This 508-acre mountain lake imparts fine fishing for rainbow trout, brook trout and kokanee salmon. With lush forests and towering peaks virtually at your feet, all standard forms of fishing prove productive, though salmon are best taken with artificial lures and live bait (worms). In the morning and evening hours, bank fishing, a float-tube or canoe affords sufficient access to surface-feeding fish, while during breezy afternoons, a sturdy motorboat provides superior safety. Keep in mind, whitewater wakes are not allowed. There are four Forest Service campgrounds in the vicinity of Williams Creek Reservoir. To visit, drive three miles west from downtown Pagosa Springs on U.S. 160, then turn north on Piedra Road. Continue north approximately 24 miles.