- Jay Walden
Upcoming High Flows
It's coming—the high water—5,000 cfs of it. The latest word from the BOR has the scheduled release date of May 16th at a 30 percent likelihood and the date of May 23rd at 70 percent. There will be a 5 day ramp up to reach 5,000 cfs where it will remain at that level for approximately 31 days with a ramp back down to normal levels over a 12 day period. If you've never fished here during high water, your first question is probably—can you do it? My answer is yes, with a few caveats. First of all, the time during the ramp up and for a few days after it hits the 5,000 mark offer the biggest challenge. As you can imagine, as the volume and the speed of the water starts to rise, it's going to churn up a lot of junk in the water, and I mean a lot. After a few days at 5,000 things start to level out and although the water is much higher, the visibility improves dramatically, along with a decrease in most of the larger detritus like sticks, weeds, leaves, you name it. It also gives the fish a little time to figure out what is going on and find their new holding lanes in this new environment. From a wading standpoint, it's still fishable in some places, the trick is knowing where those places are and unless you are very familiar with this river, you're better off booking a guide to show you around, even if it's only for a half day. Otherwise, if you decide to go it alone and you don't know the water, it's downright dangerous. In my opinion, it's best fished from a boat when it's at 5,000 cfs., and that's best accomplished by an experienced guide that knows how to navigate it at that level and also knows where the fish are going to hold. With that in mind, it can fish really well and there are plenty of places where the fish are stacked up in big numbers. Outside of those two scenarios, once the river hits about 2,000 cfs on the drop it fishes extremely well all the way to, and including when, it reaches it's normal level, although you still need to be careful with your wading. In my opinion, you'd be hard pressed to find better fishing on the Juan than during this time. The fish are fat and healthy form all the increased protein sources in the water and have received less pressure from fishermen over the last month, the water is that gin clear quality that we all love, and the river just looks prettier with all the cobbled bottom without the silt, moss, and didymo we had before high water. Anyway, that's what all the high water thing is about. In the meantime, the river is fishing pretty good right now, with some decent midge hatches, along with some BWOs especially on the overcast days. The present flow is around 400 cfs and the visibility has increased to about 3 to 4 feet. As far as patterns go, midge larva in red, cream, and tan, along with pupa and emerger patterns are still your best bet. Anywhere from the Texas Hole and below, you'll want to have some baetis nymph patterns like RS2s, foam wings, rootbeers, and fluff baetis. There are some dry fly opportunities in the afternoons when the wind isn't bad and my favorites are fore and afts in size 24 and olive comparaduns in size 22, fished on a 7x tippet. If I was a betting man, I'd probably put my money on the 23rd for the start of the ramp up, given the cooler weather we're likely to see over the short term that will most likely hold off the Animas runoff for a bit longer. Stay tuned for updates. If you would like more info or would like to book a guide, give us a call at 505-632-2194.