- Jay Walden
I once asked a famous photographer friend of mine to write a foreword for a book I had written. He wrote in there that my obsession for fly fishing; in a certain sense, somehow makes me "not quite right" in the head. I don't know if I should have been offended by that statement, I suppose I should have been, but I was not. I guess I took it as some sort of back-handed compliment in a way because after I thought about it for a while; I realized it was true, and, this guy's always been pretty blunt in his opinions—I should have expected nothing less. This past Tuesday, I spent the day on the water, when it ended, if I had ever had any ambivalence about that statement, it all ended there.
To begin with, I went against my better judgement and my own advice and stayed out past 3:00 when the sun had already dropped behind the mesa where I was fishing. In fact, when I finally looked at my watch as I was headed out the trail to the car, it was 4:00. A quarter of the way out the trail I made the mistake of looking back, downriver, to the flats. The sun, which had been absent all day, was shining on the water there. To top things off, the wind had stopped and the water was as flat as a sheet of glass. Now, I've read the Bible and I know what happened to Lot's wife, and I've fished enough in winter here to know what happens to the temperature once the sun starts to set, but that little bit of sunshine and that glassy water drew me back like a moth to a flame. I turned around and headed back, I couldn't help myself.
Sometimes; well, actually most of the time, when you've had a pretty good day and caught enough fish to satisfy any normal person, and you call it a day—then you should call it a day. If you go against good judgement and try to push it, you risk the chance of spoiling a good experience by being greedy and when that last hour— or hour- and- a- half— doesn't turn out so great— you end up leaving the water focusing on the part that didn't go so well, robbing yourself of the joy in the part that did. Occasionally; but rarely, it goes the other way. Tuesday, it did. Tuesday, I went back and started seeing rise rings on that glassy water and made long casts with big dry flies to fish that ate them with reckless abandon. It made a decent day of fishing, a great day of fishing. When I finally started for the car, it was completely dark. As I skated across ice covered ponds on my cleated boots and the willows whipped and stung my frozen face, I looked up at the snow covered trail to the parking lot and the moon was shining down through the clouds, and I thought about those words of Danny Lyon, that, "I wasn't quite right," and I had to laugh. He was right—I am a little crazy.
If you decide to fish the San Juan this week, you won't have to endure the same scrutiny about your mental state-of-being, should you decide to be the last car in the parking lot, past dark:30. For one thing, it should be at least ten degrees warmer than last week, which should dispel a good amount of those, "What the hell could that guy still be doing out there in the dark," comments from those who drive by and see your car. The temperature alone, should be enough of a reason to extend your normal fishing hours. In addition, the flows have been bumped back up to 375 cfs from 250 cfs opening up more water to get some better drifts. The water is still clear, although we are approaching the typical time when the lake turns over, so I say take advantage of that while it lasts. The midge hatches are still going strong enough to have a good deal of fish up on the feed from around 11:00 till 3:00, although I'm not seeing a lot of large clusters, like a couple weeks ago. Still, you can target a lot of rising fish with small midge dries like Morgan's Midges and Fore and Afts. Believe it or not, I also had a lot of fish eat a smaller version of a Chernobyl ant (size 12), especially in the last few hours before dark. For nymphing— 24 and 26 Bling Midges, Mono Midges, Crystal Flash, and Gray Foamwings. If you're a streamer guy or gal, take heart, some big fish are being taken on dead-drifts and the swing, especially on anything that resembles a small rainbow. It's still 7x for the small dries and 6x for the nymphs, and at least 3x for the streamers. All in all, this should be a great week to fish the Juan, with day time high temperatures near 50 degrees on most days. If you would like more information or need to book a guided trip, give us a call at 505-632-2194.