The Piedra River in southwest Colorado is a pretty, mid-sized mountain freestone stream. Piedra means stone or flint in Spanish and like much of the water in southwest Colorado it was named by the Spanish. I had fished it several years before on a section of public water near a campground upstream a ways from where I fished it this time without much success. This time a buddy and I had decided to fish the Animas up near Durango but ended up fishing the Piedra instead.
Piedra River preparation and fly sorting
We had wanted to hit the Animas because it has a section of stream that runs through the town that is the newest Gold Medal/Blue Ribbon section of river in Colorado. It is rumored to have some pretty large trout in that section too. But after talking to the fly shop guys at Duranglers it sounded like a private run of water on a cattle ranch might be better as the flows were perfect.
Animas River, Ute Mountain Reservation
We fished a section of the Animas for about an hour on Friday on a beat on the Ute Mountain Indian Reservation with no success. Oh well. So we planned on getting to the fly shop early and hitting the Piedra.
Saturday morning came and we were at Duranglers a little late. We met our guide, Joe, who was a great guy and an even better fishing guide and rode with him to the Piedra. It was early November and the weather was beautiful. The high was going to be a sunny, blue 60 degrees and there was no wind or clouds.
Ranch, Piedra River
After hiking downstream for about 25 minutes we arrived at our starting place. We both were rigged up with a rubber legged Stonefly Nymph with a Prince Nymph dropper and a Thingamabobber as an indicator. Joe indicated that the nearby run was a good one and I should fish deep. Within the first 5 casts I was onto my first trout, a tough, wild-jumping Rainbow that went about 13. I ended up catching two more Rainbows out of the same run all in the 13 and 14 range. Sweet. And so the day began.
Joe instructing David at the first hole
The first hole
Rainbows, first hole
We continued to work our way upstream, leapfrogging, fishing the good holes and runs thoroughly, me usually fishing alone, which is the way I like to fish, and David fishing with Joe. Although I did not catch tons of trout I did manage about 16 hook-ups and landed about 10 of those. I caught both Rainbows and Browns, the largest of which was a tough, head-shaking Brown Trout of 15. The Rainbows were jumpers and for trout of only about 13-14 they fought and felt like 16 fish. David caught fish too, including a nice Rainbow on a Woolybugger in the farm pond near where we parked.
Rainbow in net
David and Joe fishing
Idle Rods, lunchtime
Long, slow run on the Piedra
Chimney Rock (Archaeological Site), believed to be the observatory for the Chaco Canyon Anasazi people
We spent around 7 hours on the river and it was glorious. I had not gotten out much this year so being able to spend 7 hours on a trout stream with no one else but us was nice. It felt great; good exercise, catching trout, and no commercials, editorial thinly disguised as news, and celebrity B.S. Plus, throughout the trip we saw lots of wildlife. The list included: two flocks of turkeys, two Bald Eagles, a few dozen Mule Deer including a couple of nice bucks, lots of ducks, mostly Mallards, and of course the trout. It was great to get out. And speaking of wildlife; we stayed in a cabin at an RV park up high above Vallecito Lake, at the edge of the Weminuche Wilderness. We were the only people there, aside from the owners. For some reason I woke up around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, and as I lay in my bed for a while just listening to the stillness of the night, I heard a loud wood knock come from a little ways up the mountainside behind the cabin.