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  • Jay Walden


Ahhh...springtime in the great American West—that time of year when all outdoorsmen desire to cast aside the gray doldrums of winter for the green, warm promise of brighter days to come. The great rebirth or reawakening of all things natural, or as many of us refer to it out here—Mud Season. To be honest, I've come to view spring in the Rockies with guarded optimism. I've been around long enough and had my hopes dashed on many a fishing trip during this time of year to keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, knowing that there's a likelihood that you can possibly see the weather of all four seasons on any given day. Over time you learn to take the best of it when it's offered and just roll with the punches on the rest—which means you could be nursing a sunburn on one day, only to wake up to a foot of snow on the next. In the words of the poet T.S. Eliot, "April is the cruellest month..."

Still, hope springs eternal in the human breast, despite how often our yearnings may be dashed upon the rocks at the dispensation of Mother Nature. Through faith we know that it will come, and the sign of that new single blade of grass, the warble of some unseen songbird, augurs well in our cause. One cannot wish into being, a fact that sometimes can make the waiting all that more brutal and the payoff all that more sweet. As I said, you have to learn to take the good with the bad.

This coming week here at the old 87419 zip code, it looks like we're gonna see some more of that unsettled spring weather, with the earlier part of the week looking a little more like winter and the latter part changing back to more true springtime conditions, with a little bit of that old fisherman's nemesis—the wind—thrown in from day to day for good measure. As far as the fishing conditions go, the water clarity is down to a foot or less; which doesn't bode well for great fishing. There are years when the lake turns over during the winter and tends to clear up considerably by this time of year, and others when it just stays the same old pea soup green until the big spring water release. Unfortunately, I think this year is going to be remembered as— that year when the water stayed murky until the release. Still, if you plan to fish it, you're going to catch some fish, just come with your expectations in check, and don't assume it's going to be as great as it can be when the water is a lot clearer. As far as fly choices go, and this may sound like a broken record, big and bright like red larva and o.j.'s for attractors and midge pupae like ufos and bling midges for droppers. In addition, in light of the recent spur of baetis activity, I would add some rootbeers, fluff baetis, and RS2s to my repertoire, especially in the lower sections of the river. There have been some BWO adults showing up on the overcast, cool afternoons and I actually had two hours of unbridled dry fly nirvana last Tuesday, fishing a size 22 olive comparadun to a bunch of rising fish. I would think that this coming Monday and Tuesday would be your best bet for a repeat on anything like that —providing the wind cooperates enough not to put the fish down. If it happens, it's going to take place around 1:30 or 2:00, so don't get caught taking a nap, or leave the river for lunch—the next hour or two could make your day. Small streamers on a dead drift with a big bright annelid or larva trailer should not be overlooked throughout the day.

I know a lot of folks are looking for information on the dates of the springtime high water release and the best I can offer is that the BOR has a meeting scheduled April 5th and will put forth a forecast of their water release plans. I'll try to post them to our site, once we receive them on the 6th. Bear in mind that it will be a forecast and there have been a few years in the past where I have seen them fluctuate on the lease date, by a week or two because the peak of runoff from Colorado is weather driven. That said, I would expect to see some bumps in the water level in the next two to three weeks, since the lake is now above 86% of capacity and there is still a lot of snow in the high country. The big stuff is likely to follow a short time later—just my 2 cents, we'll know more after Wednesday. Anyway you slice it, the days of the end of wade fishing the Juan for a while are drawing nigh, so you better get here while you can. If you would like more info or would like to book a guide trip, give us a call at 505-632-2194.

Jay's Fishing Reports

Books by
Jay Walden
Can be purchased on Amazon or in our fly shop.

Jay's Fishing Report  

To our faithful fishing report readers, 

Here's a way to get your rainbow trout fix 'til you are able to hit the San Juan again-- available online only

Check each style out--there are a variety of colors, fabrics & sizes to enjoy.

Special thanks to designer & artist, Matt Zudweg 

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As a small aside and attempt at shameless self-promotion, there was an article featured  on Flyfisherman Magazine's website written by yours truly about the 60th anniversary of Abe's Fly Shop that can be accessed through the following link: Abe's Anniversary. Hope you can make it out this week. If you would like more information or would like to book a guided trip, give us a call at 505-632-2194. 

Abe's Fly Shop Turns 60 -

Watercolor by Tim Oliver                                          Photos Courtesy of Abe Chavez


Jay's Past Reports:  

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