The curtain time of the year, that's how the writer Timothy Egan describes it. Each day I see another subtle, small change signaling the changing of the seasons. Cooler nights and mornings; sunlight, softer now as it comes through my window at the start of each day, the leaves of the giant cottonwoods turning from gold to brown, all harbingers of the inevitability of nature. It's a short season here, fall, but it is; no doubt, one of the most beautiful. I only wish it could last a few months longer. The only recourse, it seems, is to make the most of each of these days we are blessed with, to get out, push all else aside at the expense of immersing ourselves into the macrocosm of the outdoors. Live it, breathe it, feel the cool wind on your face, the warmth of the sun on your back, and hear the sound of water, liquid life, as it passes your wadered legs; hurriedly, toward its final destination. It is yet a moment in time, that cannot be recaptured, unequivocally precious.
If you are looking at making a trip to the San Juan this week as part of your foray into autumn, you are going to be blessed with some beautiful weather. The daytime highs will be in the 70s with lots of clear skies and sunshine. As fall weather goes, you can't beat it. The fishing? Challenging, but good, meaning there are lots of feeding fish out there, but they're not going to just jump into your pocket. First of all, you've got crystal clear water conditions, with flows around 450 cfs. Great for wading just about anywhere you want to go, but also conditions that tend to make the fish a little more wary of brightly colored indicators, and fly lines, and leaders. Bear in mind, too, that these fish have seen more pressure over the past month than probably any other time over the entire year. Therein, lies the challenge. Your presentations will have to be your best, no room for sloppy casts, or poor drifts. Use everything available to you for an advantage—fluorocarbon leaders and tippet, small, white, or muted colored indicators. 6x for nymphs, 7x for dries. No lining fish, keep it across and down.
As far as hatches go, they're not prolific, but they're not non-existent, either. Expect to see midges become active around mid-day, until late afternoon or evening, river wide. There are some BWOs coming off around the same time, with most being concentrated in the lower sections of the river. The intensity varies from day to day and the duration of the hatch doesn't last as long as the midges. For nymph selections, red larva and small midge pupa and emerger patterns in gray and black. Sizes 24 and 26 for the pupa and emergers. The baetis nymphs are becoming more active from Texas Hole downriver, and RS2s, chocolate and gray foam wings, and fluff baetis are working well. If you are seeing heads, it'll be pretty easy to determine if they are rising to midges or baetis, as the BWOs; although small, have that unmistakable profile on the surface. I like fore and afts in gray and black, size 24 and 26 for the midges, and olive Comparaduns or an Adams in size 24 and 22 for the baetis.
The river has been busy over this past month, but the crowds are now starting to taper off, especially during the earlier part of the week. Hope you can make it out while we still are experiencing this wonderful fall weather. Give us a call at 505-632-2194 if you would like more information or would like to book a guided fly fishing trip.