- Jay Walden
It's been a long time since we've had a hard winter here, like this one. We've had snow on the ground since just before Christmas and lots of days where the high temperatures never broke the freezing mark. For those who enjoy outdoor activities, like us fly-fishermen, a tough season like this can be a little hard to take. Normally by February, you've had your fill of it, and you start looking for signs, any sign, that it's on its way out. The first robin, a green blade of grass, a bud on a tree, can give you hope. You'll cling to the slightest gesture from nature, longing with with desire for the expectancy for spring. You'll study the weather report like a college student cramming for a mid-term, looking for warming trends or shifts in the jet-stream, anything that will bolster your spirits and get you through until warmer weather arrives. There's a certain danger in doing all that as early as February. A short warming trend, may leave you with a false expectation that you've made it, you've weathered the worst, just to have all that come crashing down with the arrival of the next cold snap or snow storm, and you'll be left with dashed hopes and a worse case of cabin fever than you began with in the first place. No, you've got to take the good with guarded optimism, enjoy it when the occasion exists but don't get too caught up in it as early as February, or it will leave you with a collapse like a Red Bull wearing off and make the arrival of the real thing seem that much farther off. Hang in there, take heart in it, but don't lose your perspective. That said, here's a little dose of optimism— on Monday the high here will reach 37 degrees and by Thursday we will begin to see highs in the mid-50s that will last throughout the weekend. Great weather to fish the Juan. As I write this, the flow here is increasing today to 500 cfs, where it is likely to stay for the short term, in anticipation of a good spring runoff out of Colorado. The visibility is still around three feet, due to a lake turnover that never really got off the ground this year. As far as the quality of fishing goes, I'd rate it good, not great, but good. About the best you can expect here during winter. I've seen some years where the lake turned over and the water looked like pea soup and the fishing was tough, real tough—this is not one of those years. There are still some opportunities to fish dry flies around mid-day for an hour or two, but for the most part the bugs, and thus the rising fish, have been pretty scarce. Perhaps this warmer weather will bring a change in that dynamic, but I don't have any scientific evidence to back that up and really it's more wishful thinking on my part than anything. I think your best bet right now for consistent fishing results is to stick to the nymphing game and dead drifting small streamers, and being prepared for the dry fly opportunities, if, and when, they present themselves. Overall, you'd be hard pressed to find better fishing anywhere else this time of year, and especially with better weather conditions. My advice is to get out there this week and take full advantage of it while it lasts, and keep that guarded optimism that spring and that renewed hope that comes with it, isn't really that far off. If you would like more information or need to book a guided trip, give us a call at 505-632-2194.