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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fishing Durango as Home Base

You can follow our jaunt across Colorado in the Sunday editions of the Amarillo Globe News.


We're on our first leg of the journey, 50 days camping and fishing across Colorado - research for a book we are writing for Johnson Books. Tough job, we know. The book? "Colorado Fishing, Home Bases." Due out next spring.

Things went well for the first two hours of the trip. When we saw the $600 Malibu Mini-X kayak fly off the roof of the Jeep while we were traveling 65 mph on Interstate 40, things quickly went awry. The kayak drifted down to the pavement, missing all traffic (miracle) and came to rest pointed westward as 18-wheelers were barreling down the highway at it.

We saved it, strapped it tighter and made it to Durango.

Durango is one of the coolest mountain villages in the country. Located in one of the most scenic valleys in the state, Durango is an outdoor recreation lover's heaven. This old rail and mining town harkens back to the West with its cowboy saloons and turn-of-the-century charm. Durango is a high-energy town, a town setting where the mountains and mesas of the high desert meet. Durango is one of the West's latest boomtowns, more and more reliant now on medical and teleworking communities. Because of Fort Lewis and its college students, the town keeps a youthful vibe.

Great thing about Durango: all of the choices of places to trout fish.

Here are the places we have angled so far, doing well on each:

Hermosa Creek: The water gurgles and percolates around grey-white rocks, dumps and drops into plunge pools, slashes under cut banks, wiggles and riffles, dances and dips. The trout are bigger than they ought to be in a stream this size. Hike-in wilderness stream ideal for teaching beginning flyfishers or for vets who want to catch strong wild trout and fish dry flies in a forested canyon creek

Lime Creek: Delightful mountain stream, ideal for beginning anglers, perfect for flyfishers. The upper end of Lime Creek is brushy and tough to fish, the lower section requires a good hike in and the middle section requires you to drive on a hairy road. It's worth every bit of the trouble. Full of brook trout that rise willingly to dries, Lime is one of the finest small streams in the San Juans.

Other area fisheries: Vallecito Reservoir, Cascade Creek, Animas River, Florida River, McPhee Reservoir, Upper Dolores River and Junction Creek.

Eats: Serious Texas BBQ, 3535 North Main Ave., 970-247-2240. Look for Mark's photo on the wall next to Willie Nelson. Order the pulled pork sandwich.

Digs: Strater Hotel, 699 Main Ave., 970-247-4431. Built in 1887, The Strator is a downtown landmark.

Flyshop: Duranglers, 923 Main Ave., 970-385-4081. The shop offers custom-guided fly fishing trips, equipment, flies and information on the area.

Anglers Mark Williams and W. Chad McPhail are writing a series on the best home bases in Colorado. This was the first installment. Upcoming: Pagosa Springs, Telluride, Crested Butte, Aspen, Breckenridge, Grand Mesa Lakes and Salida.

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