The full moon ushered in my visit to the Conejos River in southern Colorado. I had planned on bringing my camper down but at over 8,000 feet, the Conejos River valley had already been socked in by the cold and all the nearby campgrounds had shut off their water. I found a rather rustic cabin at Twin Lakes Campground in Mogote and enjoyed the luxury of a bathroom and little kitchenette albeit no cell or Internet.
Even though the Conejos is located in a rather remote area of Colorado (west of Antonito) there is more than 60 miles of access to the river. After studying some guidebooks, the Pinnacles section of the river was decided upon and off I headed. (It’s uncanny how many rivers have a “Pinnacles” section.)
There was still a little color in Mogote but as I drove higher up into the mountains, there wasn’t a leaf left on the Aspens and the grass had turned a subtle golden color – almost washed out looking. The half-mile hike down to the river was in open country, which was a good thing this time of year with elk season in full swing. I admonished myself for not bringing a bright orange hat with me but felt safe once I started fishing and stayed riverside.
The local fly shop – Conejos River Anglers – indicated the fishing might be difficult now that the water topped out around 40 degrees and the fish were looking to find a place to hole up for the winter. I lured a few out from the river and quickly and carefully returned them to their habitat so as not to let them expend too much energy. There were other places I could have fished where Fish and Game had stocked the river with lots of rainbows, but the wild browns are so beautiful to behold and the area in which they live is so remote, that I was happy I had made my way up to the higher grounds of the river.
This is really a magnificent spot where you are far away from the beaten path. Even so, I only saw a few whitetails all weekend. The animals know it’s hunting season.