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One of the last free-flowing rivers in the state of Colorado, the Animas River is a unique and rare treasure. With the newest and one of the best Gold Medal Water fly-fishing sections in Colorado, the Animas is a river that should be on your list of places to fish.

When Juan Rivera passed through this corner of Colorado in 1765, he named the river El Rio de las Animas Perdidas en Purgatorio, “The River of the Lost Souls in Hell.” To Rivera and his Spanish compatriots, the valley was remote, bleak, and had little to offer them in the way of riches.

The Animas River is the major stream draining the high alpine terrain of the Needle Mountains. It heads in small meadows on the flanks of Cinnamon Mountain north of Silverton, then plunges through wild canyons as it carves a route between the Needle and West Needle Mountains. By the time it reaches Durango, the Animas has grown to a large river. Out of the mountains the Animas meanders through a shallow depression across broad plains. South of the New Mexico border at Farmington the Animas joins the San Juan River.

Fortunately, public access to the Animas River within the city of Durango is plentiful with almost 7 miles of river from 32nd Street Bridge to the Rivera Bridge south of town. Two parcels of private land are found in this stretch, but they are well marked. Foot and bike trails parallel the river through much of town, providing abundant easy access.

The Animas is big water. In Durango the river is almost 100 feet wide, filled with huge rocks and deep holes. The river offers extensive riffles, freestone conditions, and stretches of pocket water. The bottom consists of gravel and cobbles. The rocks are as slick as those in any river in the West, and anglers must always be very cautious when wading. Wet wading is popular in summer, but waders are called for in the early season and in the fall.

A year or so back, the EPA spilled about 3 million gallons of toxic chemicals into the river. These chemicals included heavy metals like lead, arsenic, zink and iron. For a week the river turned bright orange and many thought the river was done for. However after cleanup, and time, the river has seemed to turn back to what it originally was. Fish show no signs of poisoning, and supposedly the river water is safe to drink.

This trip started (and almost ended) very frustrating. I didnt see a single fish all day, and didn't even get one bite on the line. At the end of the day when I was further down stream, I fell in the water which pretty much made me quit fishing. As I walked back to the car, I decided to try one last spot. The spot where I hooked a big trout my last trip. I ended up hooking a very good sized brown trout, one of the largest Ive ever caught. It had to have been 24-25" at least. It was a beautiful fish, with hooked jaws.

The rod I hooked that fish on was a 9' 6wt Sage Method, with a 3250 sage reel. I had a 7wt outbound short line with an intermediate sink tip, and I was fishing a size 10 cone head slump buster streamer in olive.

Some of the above info about the animas was gotten from the Duranglers website with their permission.

https://youtu.be/JaHujaHRRls
 

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It may have a link but I cannot see it....
 

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Nice fish....so ending "McFlailer". Too bad, I liked the name.lol

When my buddy lived in Bayfield, 9 years ago now, we would meet up usually to fish the Juan, but we would end up on the Animas for a least a day. We threw a lot of big sculpin and mice patterns with plenty of browns to show, but I've never fished it in the winter. We did buy the Rez permit on one of my visits and that was a good time; something I would recommend for summer action. Again, nice fish!

P.S. Looked as though you took a spill?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yes I took a spill. Not sure how to take the McFlailer term, I guess its good its ending... Yeah, the winter is a bit different than the summer. Big mouse and Sculpin patterns are where its at in the summer. I think the winter though makes it a bit more tough.
 

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McDude, we have all "flailed" on a river. It's just we didn't put it on the internet or there was no internet. Lol. So the term is positive. If my desire was to denigrate and disparage you, I would have been much more creative. Lol
 

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McDude, we have all "flailed" on a river. It's just we didn't put it on the internet or there was no internet. Lol. So the term is positive. If my desire was to denigrate and disparage you, I would have been much more creative. Lol
I was not offended. Really, If I had a problem with it, I wouldn't have put up my "fails". I know you weren't trying to be mean or rude, but I am not that self absorbed to care when people are. HAHA
 

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That is beautiful! Do they all get the jaws like that when they're that big?
Thanks! :)
Honestly I'm not 100% sure, but I have seen a few fish bigger than this without the hook jaws on other rivers. I think it depends more on dominance than size. So for instance, if they are the largest in the relative area (dominant) they get the hook jaw, but if there are other more dominant fish, then they stay trout looking. I think it has to do with their "right to breed" type of thing. But I could be totally wrong. This is more just my observation than actual science. HAHA
 

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The jaw is because it's a male. As males mature, they develop a kype to their lower jaw. Females have short, blunt snouts and the upper and lower jaws are about the same. This is a good way to identify the sex of your trout...
 

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The jaw is because it's a male. As males mature, they develop a kype to their lower jaw. Females have short, blunt snouts and the upper and lower jaws are about the same. This is a good way to identify the sex of your trout...
So is it just having to do with age?
 
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