Fishing Seasons on the San Juan
Spring Fishing (March, April, May)
Spring is a great time to fish the San Juan. As spring progresses, fish move out of their winter holds actively feeding on midges and other insects. You can catch fish on midge patterns, dry flies, annelids, eggs and streamer patterns. There can be a little snow and a little wind this time of year but overall temperatures are comfortable for a properly equipped fisherman. During high flows it is best to fish only safely wade able areas or fish from a drift boat. Spring flows can also bring a little discolored water to the San Juan caused by silt flowing into the lake or by lake turnover. Fishing can still be very good during discolored water conditions, you need to adapt your techniques to the conditions.
Summer Fishing (June, July, August)
Summer is the busiest time of year. Fish are active feeding on midge and other insects including mayflies, caddis, scuds, annelids and terrestrials depending on what part of the river you are in. Make sure that you bring sunscreen, polarized glasses and bug spray. If you are fortunate to be on the river during the "ant hatch", you could experience phenomenal dry fly fishing for large trout using ant patterns. The "ant hatch" isn't a hatch, but is caused by runoff from a large rain which brings ants into the river. There are thunderstorms during the summer which bring lightning. Make sure that you take the necessary precautions when lightning is in the area.
Fall Fishing (September, October, November)
Fall is a favorite fishing time for many fishermen and fisherwomen. The scenery will be spectacular with the entire valley turning "gold" from the cottonwood leaves - bring your camera. Fall fishing continues the regular fishing patterns of summer with fish feeding aggressively on midges, annelids, scuds, terrestrials and mayflies. Flows are generally easily wade able opening almost the entire river to wading fishermen.
Winter Fishing (December, January, February)
Winter fishing on the San Juan can be very successful. Many locals prefer the winter season as there are fewer fishermen. As water temperature remains fairly constant throughout the year due to the low release point from the dam, fish activity and insect activity continue during the winter months. Fish tend to congregate in slower water during winter months reacting to shorter days and changes in food availability. There are snow storms, usually of short duration during the winter months as the sun generally comes out soon after a snow storm helping clear the roads. To fish the San Juan effectively during the winter you may need to fish differently than you do in other seasons, but by adapting to the conditions you can be successful. Look for fish in slower water, and once you catch one your chances of catching more increase.