- Jay Walden
Well, it had to happen sooner or later—winter, and no doubt about it, it has arrived. After an unusually warm October and November that extended the fishing season here, it's finally cold. Gone are the days of mid-60s temperatures and along with it, are the crowds, the clamoring early morning masses in the fly shops, the rush of pickups with drift boats in tow headed to the Texas Hole boat ramp, RV lots and motel rooms filled to the brim, replaced now by an occasional tumbleweed rolling down Main Street, Navajo Dam. If you were here during the last two months, you'd swear it was a different town, if you saw it now. It's an amazing transformation that happens every year, but the stark contrast in this place when the weather changes, never ceases to amaze me. One day you're running around like a chicken with your head cut off and the phone is ringing off the hook; and the next, total silence.
The good news about all this, is that if you are able to endure a little cold weather, there's still some great fishing to be had on the San Juan right now, and you'll be able to do it with a good deal of solitude on most parts of the river. The water is still clear and we are beginning to see some better hatches, especially of midges, that have a lot of fish up on the feed during the hours of about 11:00 till 3:00. That's right up my alley—great dry fly fishing, right during the warmest part of the day on sections of the river I can have all to myself. For the larger part of this week, the flow here has been reduced to 250 cfs due to some work being performed downriver. It will most likely return to 350 cfs toward the end of the week, or early next week, once the work is completed. This will make for some skinny water for a few days if you're planning on floating it, but it's still doable and hasn't affected the quality of the fishing any. As far as fly choices, the usual San Juan small midge patterns in dark colors are still working well, along with a mix of baetis nymphs and dries, and smaller egg patterns, as you head downstream. Expect to see some good midge hatches during the mid-day hours, with some clusters forming as the hatch intensifies, giving you an opportunity to fish some bigger Griffith's gnats, sprout midges, and even dead chickens, once the fish start going for the clusters. It will be cold here, especially Wednesday and Thursday, so layer up. There's really no need—unless you are a glutton for punishment—to be on the water at the crack of dawn, during this time of year. Your better fishing is going to be during the warmer mid-day hours and once the sun drops behind the mesa here around 3:00, the thermometer begins to take a dive with it. I'm thinking that with these real cold nights we have on the way this week, the lake turnover can't be far behind as the temperature in the reservoir starts to drop. Once that happens, it's gonna be a whole new ballgame here on the Juan, so if you like fishing the clear stuff, you best make the most out of it now. If you would like to book a guided trip or need more info, give us a call at 505-632-2194.