The Rio Grande is truly one of the best “unknown” rivers in America. That is to say, a crowded day on the Grande may resemble a very quiet day on another river. Drift boats frequent the river during the float season, leaving plenty of room for the wade fisherman.

The Rio Grande is the second longest river system in the U.S. South Fork and Creede are located at the headwaters where the absolute best fishing is to be found. A 22-mile section of river near South Fork is designated as Gold Medal Water. The D.O.W. states, “This is your best chance for a trophy fish.” This prestigious designation is only found on 168 miles of very special waters in Colorado.

In 2001, local anglers voted to remove all bait fishing on the section of the river from South Fork up stream through Creede continuing on to close to the Rio Grande reservoir. Fly and lure fishing are now the only methods allowed. Since the new laws have been implemented, the overall number and the size of the trout have increased exponentially.

If you are a small stream / dry fly fanatic you are in luck! There are 50 tributaries between South Fork and the Rio Grande Reservoir, dumping in hundreds of miles of streams. Approximately 85% of these streams are found on public land and very few are fished on a regular basis.

Lake fishing with a fly rod is one of the most overlooked opportunities in the area. There are also numerous lakes in the area that are stocked by the state and allow very liberal catch limits. However, regulations may change from lake to lake, so check prior to harvesting your dinner. Most of the local fly shops and sporting goods stores will have maps for fishing and can offer great advice on the local waters.

Article & Photos by Joel Condren of 8200 Mountain Sports

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