• Jay Walden


A week of sixty degree temperatures and bright sunshine after the kind of winter we've been through is definitely a reason to celebrate. Of course it's still only mid-February, so there's no real way to know if this is actually the beginning of any early spring just yet, but it sure feels nice not to have to look at those three-foot long icicles that were hanging from my front porch for the last two months, anymore. I won't be missing them. At least, a few weeks of weather like this, can give us hope until the real thing gets here and makes another cold snap or two a little easier to bear, should winter try and reappear before we're officially done with the season. And while we're on the subject of weather, I guess now is as good a time of any to talk about the BOR's most recent forecast for a spring water release here on the San Juan. Probably the most important takeaway from the entire forecast; in my opinion, is to realize that at this point, it is only that—a forecast. In reality, the snowpack level which drives the whole mechanism in the first place, doesn't typically peak until early or mid April. That still leaves a lot of time for things to happen, or not happen, to effect the final outcome. In simplest terms, it all comes down to what kind of weather we have from today forward, until around April 15th. If we get decent snow in the mountains between now and then, we'll have a big release. If it get unseasonably warm and dry weather, and the present snowpack dwindles away, then they'll likely dial back the release. Right now, their model is to most likely ramp up the flow in late April over a four week period, until they reach 5,000 cfs, hold it at 5,000 for three weeks, and then drop it back down over a two week period. Bear in mind that the late April target date is highly dependent on what the Animas river is going to be doing at that time, as the goal is to time the peak of the release here, to coincide with the peak of runoff in the Animas, so that could vary by a couple weeks. Complicated, highly unpredictable, totally weather driven, and speculative on what Mother Nature will do over the next two months. I wouldn't start buying airline tickets, just now, if you're planning a spring fishing trip. If it helps any, I'd wait until the BOR makes a final decision in early April and go from there and keep in mind that the river typically doesn't fish well on the rise, is too dangerous to fish at 5,000 cfs unless you do it from a boat with an experienced guide, and can start fishing extremely well on the drop once it reaches 2,500 to 2,000 cfs. In the meantime, we have present flows of 469 cfs. In my estimation the visibility is about 2 feet or so, down from 3 to 3 and a 1/2, feet, before the recent flow increase. Still, it's not bad compared to what we've seen in past winters. The bug activity has been minimal, with very few midges lately, and only a BWO here and there. The dry fly fishing has been virtually non-existent for the past couple weeks. Perhaps this warmer weather will get things stirred up, but right now, it's a nymphing and streamer game out there. Since the bump in the flow, my observation is that a lot of fish are holding in deeper runs, hugging the bottom. There doesn't seem to be a lot of movement (perhaps due to the lack of bugs moving in the water column) so the best bet seems to be fishing the main currents and getting your flies down to where the fish are. Red and cream larva are hot tickets right now along with small dark midge patterns—24 and smaller. The afternoons and early mornings have been a little slower, with good results coming from dead drifting small leech patterns and dropping off a larva, egg, or worm pattern. Depending on where you fish, there are a lot of small stockers out there right now, if you're looking to avoid them, your best bet is burn a little boot leather and get as far as possible from any place that a stocking truck can access. The good news is that little fish become big fish and come this summer there should be a lot of healthy fish out there. Overall, I would say the river is fishing good to average, if you factor in the lack of dry-fly opportunities, which for me is a real downer, but I'll live through it, I guess. It really wouldn't hurt me to brush up on my nymphing skills anyway and you can't beat mid-60s weather in February. If you would like to book a guided trip or need more info, give us a call at 505-632-2194.

Jay's Fishing Reports

Books by
Jay Walden
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Jay's Fishing Report  

To our faithful fishing report readers, 

Here's a way to get your rainbow trout fix 'til you are able to hit the San Juan again-- available online only

Check each style out--there are a variety of colors, fabrics & sizes to enjoy.

Special thanks to designer & artist, Matt Zudweg 

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As a small aside and attempt at shameless self-promotion, there was an article featured  on Flyfisherman Magazine's website written by yours truly about the 60th anniversary of Abe's Fly Shop that can be accessed through the following link: Abe's Anniversary. Hope you can make it out this week. If you would like more information or would like to book a guided trip, give us a call at 505-632-2194. 

Abe's Fly Shop Turns 60 - FlyFisherman.com

Watercolor by Tim Oliver                                          Photos Courtesy of Abe Chavez


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