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Fishing Season Kickoff: Best Spots & Tips for Anglers in Pagosa Springs 

The Rocky Mountains of Colorado are a truly special place. The pristine rivers and streams are the best spots for anglers to test their skill and connect with the great outdoors.  

Our small town of Pagosa Springs rests in Southern Colorado. We are surrounded by the San Juan National Forest, famous for the San Juan River. With springtime approaching, we are excited for the start of fishing season and to welcome all anglers to our Pagosa Springs bed and breakfast. The San Juan River borders our property, allowing easy access from our free parking area.  

Read on to learn about the best fishing spots, classes, and guided trips in our area. Pagosa Springs fishing is some of the best around – you won’t want to leave! 

man holding rainbow trout

Fishing During the Spring Season 

Springtime in the Rockies can be unpredictable. Sunshine can be followed by intense snowstorms and lakes can be frozen until April. That said, it is important to know the current conditions before setting out on your Pagosa Springs fishing trip. Be prepared to face fast-changing weather conditions by packing layers and making sure road access is safe. It’s always a good idea to check with local fishing shops and the Forest Service for up-to-date conditions.  

Best Fishing Spots  

For anglers who stay at our Pagosa Springs bed and breakfast, we love recommending these spots in the area. 

  1. RiverWalk Inn: Our hotel is only 100 feet from the San Juan River! Stroll along the riverwalk trail and hop in and out of the river to find your ideal fishing spot. The San Juan River is home to all types of trout – rainbow, cutthroat, and brown  

  1. Echo Canyon Reservoir: Only an eight-minute drive away, Echo Canyon Reservoir contains bluegill and crappie. There is a boat launch around the state park.  

  2. Williams Creek Reservoir: About 50 minutes northwest of Pagosa Springs is Williams Creek Reservoir. The lake is surrounded by mountainous views and is home to trout and the kokanee salmon.  

  3. Piedra River: Plenty of trout live in the Piedra River. Drive about 45 minutes west of Pagosa Springs and pack your artificial flies and lures, as that is only what is allowed here.  

Fishing Essentials 

We love it when our guests come back from a fulfilling day of fishing and show off their catch to us! A good day of fishing is aided by having the right gear. 

  • River shoes: The rivers of the Rocky Mountains are, well, rocky! The rocks at the bottom can be slippery. To avoid an unwanted tumble, make sure your shoes have a felt bottom to grip your walk. 

  • Rod and reel: Make sure to pack the right gear for your type of fishing. Fly fishing is very different from bottom fishing. If you're a novice angler, start with a spinning rod combined with a reel that’s already assembled with a fishing line. It'll take a lot of the guesswork out of the sport.  

  • Tackle Box: Organization of your hooks, flies, and lures is important. A messy tackle box can be confusing and time-consuming. Find the size of the box that works best for you with trays and plenty of storage space.  

man fishing near riverwalk inn
man fishing near riverwalk inn

Build Your Own Rod! 

On your next Pagosa Springs fishing trip, take a class to learn how to build your own bamboo fly rod with our friends at PJ’s Fine Bamboo Rods. Their class takes place in the heart of downtown Pagosa Springs, less than a half-mile walk from our bed and breakfast. Participants spend six days crafting their very own bamboo fly rod from a full culm of bamboo and fishing with a fishable rod. The class provides all the needed materials, including tools, a rod sock, and a tube to store your handcrafted heirloom when you leave. No experience is necessary to take this class. Classes are limited to only four folks to ensure proper one-on-one instruction from PJ and his on-staff Rodsmiths. 

The dying art of handcrafting a bamboo fly rod is brought back to life! PJ’s Fine Bamboo Rods proudly partners with the RiverWalk Inn to accommodate our guests. With the San Juan River as a backdrop to the class, there is no better place to first try out your forever souvenir!  

Class schedule for 2024: 

  • September 10-15th 

  • October 8-13th 

  • November 12-17th 

  • December 10-15th 

PJ’s Fine Bamboo Rods will announce its 2025 rod-building class schedule on June 1, 2024. 

Pagosa Springs Fishing Guides

Hiring a guide is a great way to get the most out of your Pagosa Springs fishing trip. High Country Fishing Charters offers trips in Pagosa Springs as well as Northwest New Mexico and along the lower San Juan River. The length of trips ranges from four to eight hours, excluding travel time to ensure the most time on the river. For a unique fly-fishing experience, book a trip with Piedra River Anglers in Pagosa Springs. They offer various fly fishing trips targeting all main trout species with a guide. They have both private and public water options and offer both half-day fly-fishing trips and full-day fly-fishing trips. You can choose a wade trip through rivers, streams, and creeks and kick tube trips on lakes and other still water right in Pagosa Springs, CO. You also have the choice of fly fishing in a drift boat on lakes and still water. Piedra River Anglers also has partners with whom you can take overnight trips on horseback into a high mountain lake if desired! They offer trips both on state waters and National Forest waters.

A fishing guide can give you access to areas that are off-limits to the public or hard to access. They can teach you tricks of the game, from reading the water to knowing which lure to pick. When looking for the right guide, consider their knowledge and experience. Make sure they are insured and have a good safety record.  

Regulations & Permits 

Fishing is a very popular sport in the Rocky Mountains. However, the fish are limited. It’s important to understand the rules of the sport before heading out for the day.  

To purchase a fishing license, visit the Colorado Parks & Wildlife website. There is a list of retailers and CPW locations to buy a license in person, or you can purchase online. Be sure to follow fishing regulations pertaining to bagging limits, types of lures, and catch-and-release.   

Other Activities in Pagosa Springs 

After a long day on the water, make sure to check out all the neat activities in Pagosa Springs. The area hosts several hot springs locations. These geothermal waters date back to Native American tribes bathing for their natural healing properties. Today, you can experience the same therapeutic benefits. You can visit the Pagosa Springs Resort & Spa, Overlook Hot Springs, or the Healing Waters Resort and Spa – a wide variety indeed!  

Our town is also known for the tasty local dining. Depending on your mood, you may want to delight in upscale riverside dining, such as the Meander Riverside Eatery. For a more casual setting, visit Riff Raff on the Rio, where they make their own craft beers. You can’t miss their giant silo outside! 


When you visit our Pagosa Springs hotel, you will be surrounded by the scenic landscapes of Southern Colorado. We are a hub for anglers with plenty of access to lakes and rivers, including the San Juan River just behind our property. The RiverWalk Inn is truly the perfect place to stay for your Pagosa Springs fishing adventure. Book your stay and our team will give you all the tips on the best fishing around so you can tell your friends all about the big fish you landed in Colorado.


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