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  • Jay Walden

"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day,"

"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day," Shakespeare, from Macbeth. If you are a dry fly fisherman, that quote could sum up your feelings about the San Juan right now if you are waiting for rising fish. Tomorrow; or next month for that matter, can't come soon enough. It has been over a month since there have been any bug activity in appreciable numbers, and thus rising fish. From the looks of things, it's probably gonna be a while longer before that changes. In the meantime, the fishing has been pretty decent, as long as you are willing to change your approach. If you want to catch fish here, you'll have to play the hand you've been dealt and it's going to have to involve one of those dreadful "bobbers" that I detest so much, and some lead. Now, I'm not one of those purist snobs that will only fish a fly if it floats, and look down my nose at others who subscribe to other methods. Close perhaps, but not a total purist, and I have a multitude of fly boxes and other fishing accouterments in my possession, to prove otherwise. It's just not my favorite way of doing things. That said, here's the deal. The flow level here is around 450 cfs and will likely stay in that range for the near future. The visibility is around two-and-a-half feet, which isn't that bad for this time of year. In my estimation of things, the inactivity on the part of the bug life, as of late, has led to a lot of the inactivity of the fish. In short, I just don't see a lot of fish moving around any great distances, to scoop up bugs moving through the water column, because not a lot of bugs seem to be moving through the water column. There are definitely fewer fish scrambling to take emergers in the film, and they are virtually nonexistent on the surface. There's certainly a food source out there though, and these fish still gotta eat, otherwise they'd all die out— which leads us to fly choices and methods that will effectively catch fish. Think larva, pupa, small leeches, and even eggs, right now—all on the best dead drift your skills can muster. It's gotta move at the right speed and look realistic, and be at the right depth and hit 'em right on the nose, or it isn't going to get eaten. Just as importantly as fly selection, and perhaps even more so, you're going to have to play around with your set- up and adjust your weight and depth, until you get it just right, which requires a little more work than you are accustomed to, when the bugs, and thus the fish, are moving around everywhere on this river. It's classic wintertime fishing, and despite the fact that the thermometer says sixty degrees, my calendar still says February on the page I'm looking at, at least for a few more days. The night-time temperatures are still down into the twenties, and you can bet that the water that is coming from way down from the bottom of the reservoir and makes up the flow of this river, is what most of us would still classify as chilly. If there's any doubt about that, just look at the temperature chart on the USGS page for the San Juan. Those higher water temperatures as the day progresses, help to explain why the fishing is better at mid-day, when the bugs and the fish become more active. Overall, things could still be a lot tougher. We've got decent water clarity, which helps. It's way better than some years, when the water has looked like pea soup all the way up into early May. Just know that it's not going to be no-brainer easy and you're going to have to work a little for your fish for a while longer. If you plan to come out during the earlier part of the week, expect some pleasant temperatures for this time of the year, but you're going to have to deal with some wind through Wednesday. Expect some company on the weekend from all the other folks that are experiencing cabin fever, just like yourself. Other than that, I still think the Juan is one of the best bets you can make for winter fishing and it's worth the trip if you are thinking about making the drive. If you would like more information or need to book a guide, give us a call at 505-632-2194.

Jay's Fishing Reports

Books by
Jay Walden
Can be purchased on Amazon or in our fly shop.

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 -

Watercolor by Tim Oliver                                          Photos Courtesy of Abe Chavez


Jay's Past Reports:  

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