- Jay Walden
"History doesn't repeat itself but it often rhymes." Mark Twain is often given credit for that tidbit of conventional wisdom, although it's true source is in dispute. Regardless of its origination, there's a lot of accuracy in its meaning. For those who have fished the San Juan for any number of years, there's always that inevitable rhyme each year with the dreaded cyclical phenomenon we refer to as lake turnover— when the end result is murky water in the river. Generally, it varies in intensity and duration at the whim of Mother Nature lasting anywhere from a few weeks to several months, with the visibility falling somewhere on the scale from pea soup to slightly used dishwater. Unfortunately, the end result— depending on the severity— is also directly correlated with the quality experience of the fishing. So far this year we've gone back and forth a few times on the visibility scale from a few feet to our present situation of a few inches. When you're used to fishing it for the larger part of the year in its usual gin-clear state it can often be a bitter pill to have to swallow and the waiting for it to clear part can occasionally feel like a lifetime. Nonetheless, if you gotta fish, you're left with few options outside of driving somewhere north of here and risking frostbite, so you make the most of it. It's about as tough as it gets as far as the fishing seasons go here. That said, you can still catch fish here, just probably not as many of them as you would if the water were clearer. The good news is that it will get better—eventually; although I wouldn't venture to say when, but it always does. In the meantime, here's a few tips I can offer to hopefully make your experience a bit more productive. Go a little bigger and a little brighter with your fly choices. Lead flies like size 18 and 22 Red Lava, OJs, Princess Nymphs, and Desert Storms with midge droppers like size 24 Bling, Zebra, and Crystal Flash are good choices. Dead-drifting Buggers and Leeches (olive, black, and white) under an indicator with one of those above mentioned lead flies as a dropper can also be effective. And then there's the old tried and true method of swinging some real meat down deep like big, articulated, ugly, weighted streamers on a sinking line that can often produce some big fish this time of year. As far as the dry fly fishing goes, there's not a lot of help I can offer in that department right now, as the hatches of both midges and baetis are sparse to nonexistent on most days. That for me is the hardest part of all this to take as a I am partial to the dry fly. I'm not sure when that dynamic will change, but my guess would be it will come about when we see a consistent change to warmer weather. That doesn't look like it will start trending in the right direction until sometime the following week when we are likely to see some back to back days with the highs in the 60s. One can only hope, as my last few weeks looking for rising fish have been about as productive as searching for Bigfoot or the elusive Pink Unicorn. Overall, it is what it is right now and no amount of wishful thinking is going to change the conditions, at least, anytime soon. My advice is that if you want to fish, make the most of it and get out. It may not be epic, but you are going to catch some fish and all things considered—especially where the weather is concerned—you'd still be hard pressed to beat the San Juan versus anywhere else right now. February is almost over and we've made it through the worst part of winter, spring is getting closer and things are only going to get better—there is hope in that. If you would like to book a guided trip or need more information, give us a call at 505-632-2194.