- Jay Walden
Happy New Year
Happy New Year to all. With the weather being what it is—winter in true form—I find myself daydreaming a lot about warmer times to come. The cold season has always just been something I tolerated; barely, until spring and summer arrived, and it seems I care less for it as I grow older. Nonetheless, it's here so I do my best do deal with reality, take advantage of an occasional warm spell when it happens and fish, look for a silver lining, and pray for an early spring. For the last couple of winters here, that wasn't too difficult, they were milder than usual, and I was able to fish a lot, especially on some different water up in Colorado that's normally off limits due to the weather. But, warm, dry weather out here in the winter is a two-edged sword, kinda like a raucous New Year's Eve party that's fun at the time, but leaves you with a lot of regret the next morning. It's great to fish in 55 degree weather in January and be able to drive over all the mountain passes on dry roads, but it doesn't do much to promote the health of our rivers and their fish, when the water level remains low all the rest of the year. And we've seen that here on the San Juan with four years of below normal snowpack, resulting in a buildup in didimo, and decreased fish habitat from the buildup of silt that would normally be washed away by high springtime water releases; not to mention, all the back channels I used to be able to fish, that seem to be no more than algae covered sludge ponds. So here's where I see the silver lining in a winter that has Wolf Creek boasting the most snow in Colorado, with a total of 253 inches so far. I see that translating into high spring flows on the San Juan that will move most of the silt buildup below Simon Canyon further down river and restore one of my favorite fishing spots (Durangler's Corner) to its former glory. I see a pretty cobbled streambed again in the rest of the river where I haven't seen it for years, free of didimo, silt, and moss buildup. I see side channels full of big cruising fish, anxious for the splat of my ant or hopper pattern. I see fishermen spread river-wide, not crowded over the same hole at a 250 flow, pounding away at corralled up fish that are reduced to finding enough current to sustain their existence. That, friends, is a good thing and worth taking one for the team for, giving up a few less days to fish in the winter—when it's cold anyway, to have a healthy, beautiful fishery for the rest of the year. That is the silver lining of cold and snow. Now here the fishing report part—flows of 266 cfs with clear water conditions. Despite the cold weather we have been experiencing the lake hasn't turned over yet, although that could happen any day. The fishing has been good with midge hatches still happening and the dry fly fishing, as well as the nymphing, being very productive. It's been cold, real cold on a lot of days, but those folks that have braved the elements have been justly rewarded with their share of fish. The better fishing has been from around 11:00 till 3:00, which coincides with the best time to be on the water anyway, because of the more tolerable temperatures. The earlier part of the week we will see some slightly warmer temperatures with some precipitation moving in Monday afternoon and lasting until Thursday—great Blue Wing Olive weather, if you don't mind a little rain and snow. By Friday the temperatures will begin to drop again and the forecast for the weekend looks to be cold. All in all, this could be a great week to fish the San Juan, if you're not afraid of a little weather. Best of all it translates into more snow in the mountains and possibly the best spring, summer, and fall we've had in a long time here. Best of luck in 2016 and may you get the chance to fish more than ever before—just to borrow a line from my New Year's resolution. If you would like more info or would like to book a guided trip, give us a call at 505-632-2194.