Little Piedra River Brown Trout
Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Fly Fishing the Piedra River Colorado
The Piedra River begins near the Continental Divide in
the Weminuche Wilderness. It's a forty mile long stream
that's a tributary of the San Juan River but where it once
joined the San Juan is now under water in the Navajo
Reservoir. The Piedra River is formed by the
confluence of its East and Middle Forks, both of which
begin in the San Juan National Forest. The Middle Fork
of the Piedra River, the larger of the two, flows for about
twelve miles with only part of it accessible without hiking
into rugged canyons.

The East Fork of the Piedra River flows through
wilderness without trials for about eleven miles before
joining the Middle Fork. O'Neal, Williams, Weimuche,
and Sand Creeks join in on the flow along with the first
Fork Piedra River. Below that point, It receives water
from Heffin and Yellowjacket Creeks before passing
through the town of Piedra. Devil and Stollsteimer
creeks join it and the stream is then followed closely by
State Highway #151for a good ways. It flows into the
Navajo Reservoir near the town of Arboles.

Fly fishing the Piedra River can be a challenge from an
access standpoint but by the same token, that's what
makes it one of the best streams to hike into to fish in
the State of Colorado. The main river flows through a
narrow valley that's over twenty miles long with two box
canyon sections. It requires long hikes and is managed
as catch and release, fly fishing only.  It sees few
anglers yet it has a excellent population of rainbow,
brown and cutbow trout. Although some rainbows are
stocked near the Lower Piedra Campground area, most
of the trout in the Piedra River are wild, stream-born

The Piedra River has a huge population of stoneflies.
There's a few mayflies and caddisflies but there's
probably more stoneflies than any of the other aquatic
insects. Terrestrials are popular in the Summer. Fly
fishing the Piedra River with imitations that closely match
the naturals, versus generic and attractor flies, offers an

Except for the Spring runoff, fly fishing the Piedra River
is mostly good all year.
March into April before the Spring runoff can be a good
time to fish the river. Runoff is from late April or early
May until sometime in early June.
Summer is usually a good time to fish but the water can
get quite low and warm during the hottest part of the
summer in some areas.
In the early fall the river is low, can be waded easily and
provides some good fishing opportunities.
Winter fishing can be good when the weather is nice.

Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle and Trout Flies
Type of Stream

Brown Trout
Cutthroat Trout
Brook Trout
Rainbow Trout
Cutbows (Hybrids)

Small to Medium

Southern Colorado

Nearest Towns
Pagosa Springs


Fair to Good

Non-Resident License
State of Colorado

USGS Water Data:
Near Arboles Co

National Weather Service Link

Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle and
Trout Flies
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