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  • Jay Walden


Back many, many years ago when I would make my annual pilgrimage out West to fish, I would invariably pull the trigger too early and wind up battling the elements, cursing myself, cursing because I knew better. I knew better, but the next spring, I’d do it again. Too many months of enduring winter weather back East, looking at weather reports, watching for a day when the thermometer topped 40 degrees in Wyoming, Montana, or Colorado drew me like a moth to a flame, and I’d pack rods and gear and head out. Occasionally I’d get lucky and the weather would hold out; but more often than not, I remember most of those trips involved snow in some varying degree of intensity. On one particular outing, I had just finished up a big plateful of chicken-fried steak and mashed potatoes with gravy at a little diner in Pinedale, Wyoming and was headed out to a series of high mountain lakes in the Wind River Range to pursue the elusive golden trout, that up until that time; and remaining so to this day, is a species of trout that I had never managed to catch. It all started out pretty well, the chicken-fried steak was good, and the weather was cool and overcast but pretty nice for early May, especially for Wyoming. Ten minutes out of the restaurant parking lot an apocalyptic hail storm rolled in and by the time I got to the trailhead and put my backpack on, it started snowing. A quarter-mile in, I was walking in a full-on blizzard and just being able to see the trail was becoming damn near impossible. Halfway to the summit where the first lake was located, I was post holing up past my knees in wet spring snow. Unable to see the trail anymore, I hurriedly pitched my tent, stripped out of my wet clothes and crawled into my sleeping bag. I awoke the next morning to two feet of fresh snow and bushwacked my way to the summit to find the lake with all those beautiful golden trout I been reading about in magazines for months. The lake was there and probably so were the trout—under a layer of ice and two feet of snow. I waded back down to the tent in thigh deep snow, packed up and wrote off golden trout and the Wind River Range for springtime vacation spots I wanted to return to. The point of sharing this little story here is that planning a springtime fishing trip in the West is just like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates—you never know what you're gonna get. That's why I'm thankful to the good Lord above, for my home waters, the San Juan. Yeah, there's still a possibility that you can encounter days here in the spring where you can experience all four seasons and it's a given that the wind is going to blow (the only question is how hard) but for the most part, you can rule out those game-changer conditions like two foot snows and sudden warm spells that trigger sudden runoff in freestones that can turn crystal clear mountain water to chocolate milk in a matter of hours. Anyway, here's what you can expect for the coming week. First of all, the flows are right around 400 cfs and the visibility is good, but not great, at about two to two-and-a half feet. There have been sporadic midge hatches that start around noon and last sometimes until 3:00 pm on some days, but they are not consistent enough to say you're going to see them every day. There have also been some decent BWO hatches in the lower section of the river that have afforded some good dry fly fishing, especially on days when it is overcast and cooler here. You can expect to see these around 2:00 pm and last from anywhere from less than an hour, up to a couple of hours. You'll have to also factor the wind into the equation for your dry fly opportunities, because those afternoon hours are just about the time the wind comes up here and can put the fish down. The more consistent fishing method on the Juan at this time is sticking to the good old tried and true nymph rig with midge larva, pupa, and emerger patterns. If you are fishing anywhere from the Texas Hole and below, you'll want to include some baetis nymph patterns like RS2s, rootbeers, fluff baetis, and foamwings. The best bet on the dries is to be prepared, if and when the opportunities arise with small fore and afts, Griffiths gnats, and BWO patterns like comparaduns and small parachute Adams patterns.

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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