Your browser is out of date.
This site may not function properly in your current browser. Update Now

San Juan River Quality Waters

Fishing Area
Fishing the San Juan River – Jeff McCall

ADA Accessibility Notes

Wheel-chair accessible fishing facilities are available at the Cottonwood Campground along the San Juan River. There are 4 handicap fishing access ramps along the first half of the "Texas Hole" on the road side.

World-class trout fishing is experienced all along the San Juan River in New Mexico, but the 4.25 miles of river just below Navajo Dam, known as "Quality Waters", holds over 80,000 trout. An average San Juan River trout is 17", but fish over 20" are abundant.

Quality Waters is teeming with rainbow, brown and cutthroat trout. Fabulous year-round fishing exists in Quality Waters as well as along the 12 additional miles of open water along New Mexico's San Juan River.

Best Access and Parking Areas

To access the Quality Waters C&R area park in "Lot #1", a dirt parking lot just at the base of Navajo Dam. A foot trail heads directly out to the upper stretch of the C&R waters. From this same parking lot there is also a second trail that will take you below the C&R area, near the "Cable Hole". See the River Map at for the additional access points and fishing holes.

Hints and Tips for Fishing this Area

Tip: Fish with one of the local guides before treking out on your own, even if only for 1/2 a day, and learn where the holes and special regulation areas are and to learn about local fly presentation.

Hint: To fool the San Juan River trout use tiny flies, fine tippets and proper presentation. A wealth of information, tips, reports, river maps and a list of guides available at

Rules and Regulations for Fishing Area

The first quater mile of the San Juan River just below the Dam, is designated as a Catch & Release area or C&R. All fish must be returned to the river regardless of their size. The barbless hook rule is in effect in this area also.

The C&R area ends at "Cable Hole", where a large cable crosees over the river. From the cable on down river for the next 4 miles, special regulations call for barbless hooks. This Special Catch section is posted with a limit of one trout over 20".

For rules, regulations and license information visit or contact the NMDGF at
or call (505) 222-4700.

Nearby Places