Long Walk in the Weminuche

This trip to the Weminuche has been in my mind for the past two years now and it finally all came together this past weekend. The trip would be a 12 mile out and back to a high elevation lake hidden away in the San Juan mountains of southern Colorado. The lake is supposed to be incredible and the small creek leading out of it was rumored to contain some uniquely colored wild rainbows. With these points in mind I was able to convince a friend to join me and head north out of Flagstaff for the weekend.

We arrived into Durango Friday night and after grabbing a quick slice of pizza headed to the trailhead to camp. Morning came quickly and we shouldered our far too heavy packs and began the hike in. The first three miles of the trail run through private land and upon exiting the ranch we were immediately greeted by the site of a river flowing through the mountain valley. As tempting as this river was we had a goal in mind and resisted the temptation to immediately begin fishing.

The entrance to the Weminuche Wilderness and trailside temptation

After the turnoff from the main trail we began ascending a steep valley and the hike turned into more of a slow trudge. The decision to bring pack rafts was starting to feel slightly foolish. After a few very slow miles we finally crested the upper end of the valley and saw the lakes laid out before us. The pack rafts suddenly didn’t feel so heavy!

First views of the lake

We immediately set up both the rafts and rods and began exploring the smaller of the two lakes. The fishing was slow and the olive woolly bugger had only elicited a few slight tugs and one huge hit that snapped the 5X tippet almost instantly.


After an hour or so of slow fishing we paddled to where the creek spilled into the lake and almost instantly Tanners line went taunt and a large, brightly colored rainbow danced and squirmed on the far end of the line! After multiple attempts to wrangle the fish into shore we had it in hand!

Tanners first catch and the fish of the trip, the tail on this fish was no joke!


Shortly after the first fish was brought in my bugger was inhaled by a hungry rainbow, although not the same size as the previous fish it was still a great fish considering we were above 10,000 feet!


After these fish the lake fishing slowed down and we moved on to the creek coming out of the lake. Here the dry fly action was fast and the fish aggressive and uniquely colored. Between the royal wulff and the AZ mini hopper the fish did not seem too picky!

The colors on these little fish were top notch!
Decision time…
The creek was full of these small and dark rainbows


A few lighter colored rainbows were in the creek as well but the colors on all of them were stunning.

That night we ate fresh trout over the fire and listened to the elk bugle, and it rained, of course. The next day we explored both lakes a little more, however the fish were not coming out to eat like the day before. The scenery on the other hand, more than made up for slow fishing!

Dawn hitting the mountain walls



Far side of the lake and some midday refreshments.

Towards midday we finally found a few fish, but after only mild interest and some half hearted hits we began heading back down valley to the main stem of the drainage to try our luck there.

Casting to cruising, but uninterested trout!

I’ll cover the creek and river fishing we did for the rest of the trip in my next post, hope you enjoyed!


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