I’ve been fly fishing professionally, and for fun, in Durango since 1994. One would wager that someone with that much time spent on the water would have found, and fly-fished, everything that was fishable in this area. It’s a good thing you didn’t take that bet. Recently, when launching my float tube in an area lake I was talking with a friend who was packing it up for the day. We were talking about the small lakes in the area and how, because of the winter we have had, they may be our only avenues for fishing for some time. He asked if I had ever fished Lake Capote. I told him I had only seen it through my windshield as I was heading for the Piedra River. He suggested I try it; I did, Wow!
Lake Capote is located at the southeast corner of Highways 160 and 151. The stone gated entrance is on 151 just south of the intersection. If you just kept heading south on 151 all you’d see is a small portion of the lake. It almost looks like a stock tank. However, once inside the gates you find yourself in a beautiful park.
The park is owned by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe (SUIT). And the way it has become such a beautiful place is their adherence to the mission statement for the lake. It reads, “The mission of Lake Capote is to develop and manage professional facilities and services providing quality camping, fishing, day-use, and other outdoor recreational opportunities for the benefit of Southern Ute Tribal members, their families, and other lake visitors.” Everywhere you go in the park is a commitment to that statement. Of course, such commitment, by the SUIT makes the last four words of the statement my favorite, “and other lake visitors.”
Since this a fly fishing column, I guess you’d like to hear about the fishing. It’s awful don’t go, yeah right. It’s great. The lake is 45 acres surrounded by 400 acres of park. The lake is fishable from the shore or by anything that floats and is not being powered by a gas engine. You may launch a bass boat and fish from it, however, you can only use the trolling motor. Once you start to fish you will be fishing for trout, bass, catfish and carp. In fact you can actually bow hunt for the carp. The fish are stocked, but don’t let that lull you into a mindset that the fishing will be easy. I have fished the lake twice, since my friend suggested it, and loved it both times. The first time it was windy and cold and the catching wasn’t great. The second time I fished the lake it was warmer, not windy, and with the good weather the fish became real aggressive. I fished from my float tube and caught trout and bass. None of the trout were under twelve inches and they wanted to eat only dry flies. For the afternoon I changed flies to a bass popper to fly fish for bass. I caught one bass and several trout. It’s fun fly-fishing for fish that will eat anything.
If you don’t have a float tube, or boat, but want to fish away from the bank you can rent boats at the bait shop. This is also where you buy your day use pass. You do not need a Colorado or SUIT fishing license, only the day pass. If you are over the age of twelve the pass will cost you $10. If you are twelve or under the pass is $4.
Should you have someone with you that doesn’t fish (I can’t imagine that) there is plenty for them to do. There is a three -and-a-half mile trail around the lake. While walking that trail one will see, turkey, osprey, geese, ducks and deer. You’ll also find covered picnic tables all around the lake, and several restroom facilities.
Lake Capote is a great place to enjoy a day of fly fishing by yourself, introduce fishing to a newcomer, have a family picnic, or take a leisurely walk around the lake and absorb all that southern Colorado, and Lake Capote have to offer.