Dolores River Details
Below McPhee
The "D" is technical river that continues to challenge our guests as well as us guides. This is a great fishery for an angler that is fishing solo and looking to tighten-up their skills with an AVA guide. This fishery has had its fair share of tough years, but has managed to rebound pretty well over the past couple years. AVA guides 12 miles of the catch and release waters below the dam and the 19 miles of BLM land below Bradfield Bridge. The upper 12 miles of catch and release waters consist of CPW land and a small section of Forest Service.

Fish size does vary, with 10 to 20 inch fish possible. Don't expect high numbers of hookups, but there are days an angler can entice 10 or 12 fish to the fly. Fabled fish stories continue to surface from the Big D, modern tales of trout 23 plus inches long and deep bodied are heard in hushed trout-bum circles across the Southwest.

Watch for rattle snakes. Most days on the Dolores will be good for a sighting or two. With the higher concentration of buzzworms in the canyon we recommend leaving the hound at home.

Above McPhee to Rico
The Dolores is a wonderful freestone river with long riffles and pocket water. Fishes well in the summer and fall, however there can be some fantastic early season fishing on the Dolores as well.

Rainbow, brown, cutthroat, cutbows and brook trout call the upper Dolores home. Insect hatches range from caddis, mayflies and stone flies to ants and hoppers.


Dolores River
The upper and lower Dolores offer very diverse fly waters. There are technical tailwater trout below McPhee Reservoir and the gullible trout that call the upper Dolores home. The Dolores has fantastic scenery and crowd-free fishing, making it a top guide pick (both for guide days and cherished days off).

Dolores Guide Report, Flows and Hatches

Low and clear flows along with minimal insect hatches makes for tricky to down-right poor fishing. The Dolores, both above the lake and below does not fish very well in the winter. Early spring can be "OK", but it really needs to warm up. About three miles before the dam there is a locked gate that limits access to the upper section. The gate is closed Dec 1st and will not be opened till May 1st.

Predictions and forecast
We hope to see increased flows for 2015, but we are not holding our breath. Moisture and snowpack will help determine flows released from McPhee. There has been a push for a mandatory spring release. We'll keep you posted on that front.

Fishing continues to be pretty good, just depends on the day. I love how trout keep us guessing. I showed up to the river with a bright blue sky and a big sun overhead and thought "Oh man, we are going to have to earn them today". As it turned out plenty of fish were looking for midges and BWOs. It was a solid day of dry fly fishing. Just have to get out there. As browns set up to spawn try to avoid shallow gravel areas were they are working. Remember to remind friends and fellow anglers to leave spawning fish alone.

Dolores Flows
Below McPhee:
Fall flow range: 30-80 CFS

Winter flow range: 15-32 CFS
Spring flow range: 32-2500+ CFS
(if there is a release)
Summer flow range: 50-110 CFS

Above McPhee (Upper Dolores and West Fork):
Fall flow range: 65-1200+ CFS
Winter: Cold, ice and snowed over
Spring flow range: 200-2000+ CFS
Summer flow range: 60-250 CFS

Dolores River Insect Hatches
Midges, BWOs, caddis and PMDs near the dam. Some stoneflies in the middle and lower section. Terrestrials are always king on the "D". Ants, beetles, hoppers, cicadas and crickets.

  • Spring: Midges, BWOs, caddis, some stones, sculpins
  • Summer: Midges, BWOs, caddis, may flies, stones, ants, beetles, hoppers, sculpins
  • Fall: Midges, BWOs, sedge, ants and sculpins
  • Winter: Midges and various nymphs and small aquatic worms

Insects and food in the system
Caddis pupa (both cased and free), caddis larva, midge larva and pupa, mayfly nymphs, stones, worms. Creek trout also rely on terrestrials as a main food source. Hoppers, ants and beetles.

Guided Fly Fishing on the Dolores River
Animas Valley Anglers offers guided wade trips on 31 miles of river below McPhee Reservoir and miles and miles near Rico and Dolores Colorado. We also offer float trips on the Dolores when flows allow. Click over to our guide trips pages for more info.