- Jay Walden
I once had had a girlfriend who, early into our relationship, called me a "closet redneck." If I remember correctly, this came just after I had loaned her my car for a day. I assume she saw all my camo clothing and turkey calls I kept in the back seat, because it was in the spring. That, and all those Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson CDs in the glove compartment, which she had no business looking into, in the first place. Looking back, I can now understand how she arrived at the term, since she had only seen me in a coat and tie, at work, up until then. At the time, I thought she perhaps meant it as a term as endearment—now, I'm not so sure. That was all a long time ago, so I'm a little foggy on the details on how that relationship finally ended; but more than likely, it probably had something with too many out of town hunting and fishing trips. That's just an assumption on my part; an extrapolation from the way a lot of the others ended, so it's not solely based on fact—all this coming from a guy that once tried to write a love story based on past experiences, that ended up sounding more like a Stephen King novel and had to be scrapped. If the shoe fits, I guess you gotta wear it. Apparently, you can only expect so much from someone that was raised in the Appalachian coal fields. I have a good friend from there that went on to become a Virginia Supreme Court Justice, but I know for a fact that, that girl has eaten squirrel gravy and biscuits on more than one occasion. Anyway, after a long, circuitous career route that led though a lot of America's major cities, I ended up here in Navajo Dam, which isn't a big stretch from where I started out, and it has finally allowed me to drop the "closet" part from that derogatory appellation of years ago. Now, our roads may really suck, but there's great hunting and fishing here, and I'm a stone's throw from one of the world's greatest trout streams that many people have to travel for days or hours to reach. In all things, I feel truly blessed. Enough about me, let's get on to more important and interesting topics. The big news around here is what's happening with the spring flows. As of this past Thursday, the flow on the San Juan was increased from 500 to 1,000 cfs. Despite what I had anticipated, the clarity of the water didn't really decrease; in fact, it may have actually improved just a bit, and perhaps, so did the fishing. Bigger, brighter stuff, like San Juan worms, eggs, red larva, and sparkle worms, teamed up with flashback pheasant tails, big macs, midgemasters, mono midges, and RS2s seem to be the ticket. Don't overlook streamers with trailers of red larva and sparkle worms in size 18, as well. As far as future increases go, here's the story from the BOR—on May 3rd there will be another increase to reach 1,500 cfs. After that, reaching 2,200 cfs on May 4th, 3,200 on May 5th and holding at that level over the weekend, followed by a 400 cfs bump every other day—with weekends being the exception—until 5,000 cfs is reached, where it will remain for approximately 35 days. The release will begin decreasing on Friday, June 23 rd., reaching 500 cfs on July 6th. As far as wading access goes, of course it will diminish somewhat as the water level raises, but there is access even at 3,200 cfs if you use great care where you wade, especially if you know the river well. The San Juan is quite broad in spots, so if you're on foot, target those areas where an increase in flow doesn't equate to a radical rise in the depth of the water. If you are a decent wader, there is still plenty of wadeable water up to 1,500 cfs. At 2,200 cfs, you'd better know the river really well, or fish with someone that does. Use a wading staff and know the depth and speed of the water you plan to wade—the water isn't clear enough yet to see the bottom in most places. Don't risk crossings, no fish is worth dying for. At 3,200 there's still some accessible water as long as you know the river like the back of your hand, if not, hire a guide that does, or better yet, get a boat. All of this applies to the levels once the water begins to drop, as well. If you are planning on being in the area during the peak release of 5,000cfs, bear in mind that it still fishes very well from a boat. The wade access is nonexistent during that time, so if you want to fish, you'll need a guide and I would book it ASAP, since there's only a limited number of boats around and everyone is gonna need one. Other than that, you'll have to wait until the water returns to wade friendly conditions, which can offer some of the best fishing of the year, in my opinion. Hope this all helps—remember you'll need a lot more weight than normal for your nymph rigs and streamers and check and clean your flies often. You can leave the dry flies at home for a while. Be careful out there. If you would like more info or need to book a guide, give us a call at 505-632-2194.